Among the more recognizable features of larger buildings constructed in the early twentieth century were the ornamental design elements that often gave buildings their personalities. The material of choice for these elements was terra cotta clay, primarily because it was relatively inexpensive, lightweight and could be easily molded or sculpted. These eye-catching details often elevated the impact of a building far beyond what it might otherwise have been.
One of Georgia’s most successful terra cotta producers was the Atlanta Terra Cotta Company located in East Point and owned by the son of Prussian immigrants, Victor Kriegshaber. Active in the community, Kriegshaber was one of the founders of the Standard Club, a charter member of the Rotary Club and a former President of the Chamber of Commerce. In 1914, Kriegshaber was part of a committee that pushed forward the Lakewood fair grounds.
It is possible, if you live in or have visited Atlanta, you have been to Victor Kriegshaber’s house. It was located at 292 Moreland Avenue just south of the Little Five Points area and it survives today as an excellent example of one of the many Victorian houses that used to line Atlanta’s major streets. Victor Kriegshaber’s former house is the location of the Wrecking Bar Brewpub.
As for Kriegshaber’s Atlanta Terra Cotta Company, it was responsible for many of the ornamental elements that adorned Atlanta structures. One of the best known of these structures was the Eiseman Building, a haberdashery and clothing store located at #47 Whitehall Street. As with many of Atlanta’s early 20th century buildings, the Eiseman found itself in the way of planned construction and, in 1975, it was demolished. That would have been the end of the Eiseman were it not for the inventive thinking of a group of Atlanta architects who inspired this week’s Stories of Atlanta.