Frazer Celebrates 70th Anniversary in 2019

In 1954, Ed Sullivan visited the Cerebral Palsy Center as part of a fundraising campaign.

The Frazer Center has evolved over the years, with different names and locations, but the vision has remained the same: to offer research-based education, vocational support, and therapeutic intervention to children and adults with developmental disabilities. Fostering inclusive communities is the heart of Frazer’s mission.

The story begins in 1948 when Anne Lane was searching for a program for her daughter Anita, who had cerebral palsy. Best practices of the day recommended institutionalization. Wanting more opportunity for her daughter, Anne Lane joined forces with her friend and civic leader Rebecca Frazer to create the Cerebral Palsy Center in 1949 in the basement of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church on Peachtree Street. In 1952, the Frazers and Lanes led a community-wide fundraising campaign to acquire the former 39-acre estate of Cator Woolford (founder of the Retail Credit Company, now Equifax), located in the Lake Claire/Druid Hills neighborhood. The estate was put into a trust, and the Cerebral Palsy Center moved into “the big house” that is now home to the Atlanta Hospital Hospitality House.

Actress Yvonne De Carlo (aka “Lily Munster”) was part of the fundraising efforts in the 1950s.

In 1961, the Cerebral Palsy Center moved up the hill into a new building—Frazer’s current location. In 1975, the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (now known as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was passed to ensure that children with disabilities received a free public education. In light of the new law, Frazer shifted its focus to serve children under five and adults over 17. In 1989, a new wing was dedicated for the Adult Program, and in 1994 the children’s program enrolled its first typically developing children. Today Frazer is in partnership with the Adaptive Learning Center to provide an inclusive early education environment where all children have room to flourish.

In 2018, Governor Deal signed into law the Employment First Act, establishing employment as the first and preferred option for all people who want to work, regardless of their disability. It’s a promising step toward a stronger, more inclusive Georgia and should help fortify Frazer’s Supported Employment Program for adults with disabilities.

A speech lesson, circa 1960

As for the community greenspace, Frazer has developed partnerships with Trees Atlanta, Eco-Addendum, and the neighborhood Friends of Frazer Forest to help restore and maintain the old-growth forest. Cator Woolford Gardens was dedicated as Frazer’s social enterprise in 1998, with a redesign by Cooper Sanchez in 2017. It’s a “hidden gem” among engaged couples and photographers looking for an enchanted backdrop, and all proceeds from the rental of the gardens support the programs of the Frazer Center as well as the upkeep of the gardens and forest.

Frazer continues its commitment to fostering inclusive communities for all people and works toward the day when inclusion is the accepted norm in educational, vocational, residential, and social environments. To celebrate its 70th anniversary, Frazer will be unveiling a newly redesigned website and giving a fresh take to the annual spring fundraising gala: Gather in the Gardens. Stay tuned for details.

The Pavilion in Cator Woolford Gardens was once The Shop (circa 1959)