Historic Buildings, People & Things in Atlanta History

April 24, 2014

Atlanta Fire Station No. 19

Atlanta Fire Station 19 in 1925 - Photo Courtesy of Fire Station 19

It represents the Atlanta Fire Department with their commitment to timely duty along with the history of the charming neighborhood it serves. It is the oldest operating fire station in the city of Atlanta, helping the residents of Virginia-Highland since the 1920′s. But now Atlanta Fire Station No. 19 needs our help. Before we talk about the history, let’s talk about the plans to restore and preserve this piece of Atlanta history. The firemen are seeking help through donations. A plan is in place to restore the arched truck bay door, update the living quarters, fix water damage and return the …continue reading

The Shellmont Inn

The Shellmont Inn - The Former Nicolson Family Home on Piedmont Avenue - History Atlanta 2014

One of the first structures built in Midtown Atlanta, started in 1891 and finished in 1892, the Shellmont Inn is old. So old that if someone in the neighborhood north of Ponce and south of Piedmont Park claims their home is older you should raise a skeptical eyebrow. It’s located at 821 Piedmont Avenue, on the southeast corner of the Sixth Street intersection. The story behind this remarkable structure starts with the train smoke of early Atlanta history. The land upon which the Shellmont Inn resides was once owned by Richard Peters, the railroad executive who came to Atlanta before …continue reading

Help Sylvester Cemetery

The Oldest Marker in Sylvester Cemetery in East Atlanta - Elenor R.M. Brown Died 1838 - History Atlanta 2014

Do you love East Atlanta? Have you ever heard of Sylvester Cemetery? Well if you love East Atlanta, then Sylvester Cemetery needs your help. Help clearing the vines that grow so fast it seems they creep when you blink. Help cleaning up piles of debris and trash that appear overnight. Help fixing retaining walls that are crumbling apart. Help raising gravestones that have been knocked over by vandals. You can help Sylvester Cemetery, East Atlanta. Start your quest to volunteer on the Sylvester Cemetery website. The history behind Sylvester Cemetery is the history behind East Atlanta. Flat Shoals Road was …continue reading

The M. Rich Building

The M. Rich Building in 1942 When It Was A Grant's Department Store - Georgia State University Library

Imagine a brick maze of interlocked buildings from before 1907, smack in the middle of downtown Atlanta. In short, that’s the M. Rich Building. It involves five formerly independent structures, interlaced with pathways, doorways, archways and hallways all created by former owners. Some of these interconnected buildings were themselves organic annexes of rooms and storefronts, either torn down or constructed into the current T-shaped complex. It features two addresses, 82-86 Peachtree Street and 111-115 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, along with a rich retail past that spans Atlanta history. The M. Rich Building entrance located at 82-86 Peachtree Street calls …continue reading

Southern Bell Telephone Company Building

Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph Building at 51 Ivy Street (now Peachtree Center) on August 8th, 1961 Before the Tower Addition - Georgia State University Library

From afar it appears to be a giant blank ice cube with a brown toothpick-like tower oddly sticking out of the top. But when you approach the AT&T Communications Building intricate etchings jump out of the limestone in contrast to the modest block form. The historic building is a surprising example of the intricate Art Deco skyscrapers built in American cities in the 1920′s, despite the fact that most of this downtown Atlanta building was built after 1946. According to early Atlanta history and folklore, this historic building resides on an interesting plot of land. Hardy Ivy, considered the first …continue reading

APC Alert: The Phoenix Flies Celebration 2014

Atlanta City Hall in the 1950's - Georgia State University Library

Each year the Atlanta Preservation Center coordinates a series of unique events dedicated to Atlanta history and historic preservation collectively called The Phoenix Flies Celebration. It started in 2003 on the 25th anniversary of the saving of the Fox Theatre (pictured above). The preservation of the Fox Theatre in 1978 is considered a significant early milestone in the local Atlanta preservation movement. This year’s The Phoenix Flies: A Celebration of Atlanta’s Historic Sites will be held from March 8th – 23rd, 2014. It brings together Atlanta house museums, municipal organizations, preservation groups, historical societies, state agencies and more. This group …continue reading

The Murder of John Garris

Met Opera Tenor John Garris in 1949 - University of Washington Libraries Special Collections

“We were down at the station at a little before midnight,” said William Fisher, a chorus member of the New York Metropolitan Opera. “The train [to Memphis] didn’t leave until 4:30. That gave us plenty of time to roam around the downtown Atlanta streets.” Fisher was a member of the prestigious 750-person Met Company departing Atlanta’s Terminal Station in the early morning of April 21st, 1949, continuing their nationwide tour to Memphis after several performances at the Fox Theatre. The late train turned out to be a twist of fate that would claim the life of one of the Met’s …continue reading

Endangered: Memorial Corridor

The Atlanta Dairy Building - History Atlanta 2014

Since the early history of the Gate City, Memorial Drive has been a beating artery of Atlanta, pulsating traffic and people, pushing them out to eastern suburbs, and pulling them into industry and downtown office buildings. Areas such as Cabbagetown, Grant Park, Reynoldstown, Kirkwood and others have benefited from this industry and traffic, many of them owing their genesis to the historic corridor. Traveling on Memorial offers a full range of buildings from Atlanta history, with almost each successive block holding a structure from past time periods. This mixed appetizer plate of historic warehouses, manufacturing plants, automobile stations, schools and …continue reading

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home

Martin Luther King, Jr. Birth Home - U.S. Library of Congress

Pictured is the birth home of Atlanta’s greatest citizen, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was born in an upstairs bedroom on January 15th, 1929. It is located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn District, and was designated a National Historic Site by Congress in 1980. The structure was built in 1895. The King family’s association with the building started in 1909 when Martin Luther King’s grandfather purchased the home. It was his maternal grandfather who made the buy, the Reverend Adam Williams of the Ebenezer Baptist Church located just a block away. In 1926, when Martin Luther …continue reading

Hammonds House Museum

Hammonds House Museum in West End - History Atlanta 2013

Hammonds House Museum touches upon so many categories of Atlanta history, it provides the perfect first story of 2014. It ping pongs down from early West End history through Atlanta Gilded Age history, then hitting AIDS history, LGBT history, African American history and even the histories of kindergartens and children’s literature. In short, a visit to Hammonds House Museum provides a classic Atlanta experience. According to several sources, the home was built in 1857 and is considered one of the three oldest residential buildings in West End. However, there is some debate if the home is truly a pre-Civil War …continue reading