By Maria Saporta
Atlanta has been a city all too willing to tear down its history.
But for several decades, the Atlanta Preservation Center has been working toward changing Atlanta’s reputation.
The Atlanta Preservation Center has just released its 2011 list of Most Endangered Historic Places. The list includes 19 of Atlanta’s most significant buildings, neighborhoods and landscapes that the center believes “are in danger of being demolished, redeveloped or lost due to neglect.”
The Atlanta Preservation Center has been publishing an endangered list since 2001, and it has been successful in helping preserve some of the city’s most important landmarks, such as the Georgian Terrace, King Plow Arts Center, the 1924 Rich’s building and several of the city’s most historic neighborhoods.
The 2011 list includes the following:
1. Atlanta’s Historic Downtown Street Grid
Atlanta’s historic downtown street grid is all that is left of antebellum Atlanta. Persistent efforts by the Atlanta City Council to rename streets threaten to erode this historic evidence despite neighborhood opposition.
Disregarding a 2003 ordinance intending to make street renaming more restrictive, the Council is known to have often waived the laws’ requirements. The proposal to rename Cone St. was altered to include memorial street sign toppers rather than renaming. However, the proposal to rename Harris St. was passed by City Council on May 16th.
The Atlanta Preservation Center is currently in litigation over this issue.
2. Atlanta’s Public Monuments
Atlanta’s public monuments are narrative components of the historic landscapes of the City. They are in jeopardy from ongoing disregard.
An example of this is the Sidney Lanier Monument in Piedmont Park. Having been neglected for decades, the bust for the monument is currently being replicated by the APC for restoration of the monument designed by Carrère & Hastings.
Demolition, removal, vandalism, theft and lack of maintenance are also evident in Atlanta’s oldest public park, Grant Park. In this park the following are known to be missing; 2 cannon, sculptures of an angel and a stag, a marble sundial and a monument to Colonel Grant.
3. Auburn & Edgewood Avenues Commercial District – Sweet Auburn
One of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Atlanta, its historic significance is greatly enhanced by the fact that Dr. King was born, lived and preached here.
Sweet Auburn was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976, and the area is part of the city-designated Martin Luther King, Jr. Landmark District. Despite its historic significance, the district has had multiple demolitions in recent years, from redevelopment, neglect, the expansion of Georgia State University and the tornado in 2008. The proposed Atlanta Streetcar travels on these streets and could have a tremendous impact on the neighborhood.
In 1992 the National Trust for Historic Preservation recognized that it was one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. The Atlanta Preservation Center first placed the district on its Most Endangered Historic Places List in 2005. Following the APC, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation included the area in its 2006 list of Places in Peril. The Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC) was formed to turn the trend around, starting with houses surrounding the birth home of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and working outward.
4. Brookwood Station, 1688 Peachtree St. NE
Brookwood Station, originally Peachtree Southern Railway station, is Atlanta’s only remaining passenger terminal. It was designed by noted architect Neil Reid. The significant Georgian Revival building features Palladian doorways and windows, surmounted by a moulded entablature.
Amtrak, which currently operates the station, has recently submitted plans to relocate their operations to Atlantic Station. The fate of the historic station is unknown.
5. Buckhead Triangle & Buckhead Library, Peachtree Road NE, Paces Ferry Road NE, Roswell Road NE
Buckhead Triangle, the intersection of Peachtree Rd, Paces Ferry Rd and Roswell Rd, is one of the oldest resources in Atlanta. Dating to the 1830s, it is the intersection from which all of modern-day Buckhead gets its name, from a buck’s head mounted at Irby’s Tavern. The intersection developed into a thriving commercial hub in the early 20th century.
Today, many of the historic buildings have been demolished and still others are threatened with demolition due to large scale development proposals. A few historic buildings remain scattered around the area, and one of the few remaining resources is the elaborate Roxy Theater.
A significant modern resource is the Buckhead Library. The library constructed in 1989 won many design awards including the 1993 National American Institute of Architects Award for Excellence. Scogin, Elam, and Bray also designed the Clayton County library headquarters. It was recently under threat of being demolished and replaced with contemporary Buckhead structures consisting of shopping, parking, and high end, multi-story residences. The redevelopment has recently been sold to a new developer, and plans are unknown at this time. This poses a threat to the library.
6. Constitution Building, 143 Alabama Street SW
The Constitution Building, located at the northwest corner of Alabama and Forsyth Streets is also known as the Georgia Power Atlanta Division Building. The site is known as the “Heart of Atlanta” at the location of downtown Atlanta’s historic railroad junction.
This brick masonry building is a rare example of Art Moderne in Atlanta. It was constructed for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper which occupied the building until 1953. Georgia Power completed a remodel and moved into the building in 1955. Many Atlantans paid their electricity bills at this downtown location. The Constitution building has been vacant since 1972.
The building has been repeatedly threatened with demolition. On July 14, 2010, the Georgia Department of Transportation announced its plans to hire a developer to transform the area. Requests for Proposals were distributed in 2010 with the winning developer, Cousins Properties, announced in spring 2011.
7. Craigie House, 1204 Piedmont Avenue NE
The Atlanta Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution received its charter in 1891; the first one in Georgia and the second in the nation.
The DAR’s first home was a Massachusetts state building that was an exact replica of the Craigie House in Cambridge Massachusetts, a boarding house that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow used for years. The building at 1204 Piedmont was built in 1911 as a new headquarters and given the name Craigie House to honor the previous headquarters.
The structure has struggled through problems throughout it life including poor construction techniques, structural damage during the Great Depression and a large magnolia tree in 1986. The property is currently unoccupied and continues to suffering from neglect.
8. Georgia Archives Building, 330 Capitol Avenue SE
The Georgia Archives building was designed by A. Thomas Bradbury, the architect who designed many of the government buildings around the Capitol building.
This Modern building was completed in 1965 to house the permanent records that constitute the state’s recorded history. The building was closed in 2003, when the Georgia Archives relocated its facilities to Morrow, Georgia
According to the State of Georgia, the building suffered structural damage from proximity to Interstates 75/85 and 20. Demolition permit recently issued. Demolition delayed by state budget shortfall.
9. Georgia Institute of Technology Modern Resources, Georgia Tech Campus, North Avenue NW
There was a rapid increase in the student body at Georgia Tech after World War II. Paul M. “P.M.” Heffernan was the chief designer for the expansion plans for the Georgia Tech Campus, including the first Research Building, Smith, Glenn and Tower Dormitories, the Old West Stands of the Grant Field, the Bradley Building, The School of Textile Engineering, the School of Architecture, the Price Gilbert Library, and the State Highway Laboratory.
A number of these University’s older buildings are under current threat of insensitive renovation or demolition to accommodate changing uses and new technology. While the successful rehabilitation of the Hinman Research Building for use by Tech’s College of Architecture is an excellent example of adaptive use of a Modern building, the demolition of the Burge Apartments and the Hightower Textile Building (on APC’s endangered list in 2001) demonstrate the negative aspect of the pressure to modernize campus facilities.
• The following is a representative list of endangered buildings.
• Campus Master Plan (as Bush-Brown, Gailey, Architects, associated with Richard L. Aeck and P. M. Heffernan, Architects) (1944)
• Towers and Glen Dormitories (1947)
• Smith Dormitory (1949)
• (old) Architecture Building (as Bush-Brown, Gailey, Architects, associated with Richard L. Aeck and P. M. Heffernan, Architects) (1952)
Price Gilbert Memorial Library (as Bush-Brown, Gailey, Architects, associated with Richard L. Aeck and P. M. Heffernan, Architects) (1953)
10. Grace Towns Hamilton House, 594 University Place SW
Grace Towns Hamilton was the first African American woman elected to the Georgia General Assembly. She grew up and lived her life near Atlanta University Center, which is where her home is located.
The house, across the street from the historic Herndon Home, is a large 4 square brick building with a full-width front porch. It is currently in a state of significant disrepair and is in need of restoration.
11. Hirsch & Feebeck Halls, 55 Coca Cola Place SE & 96 Armstrong Street SE
Hirsch and Feebeck Halls, both on Grady Hospital’s historic campus, were constructed to support Grady’s nurse training operations.
Hirsch Hall, designed by Eugene Wachendorff, was built between 1920-22 to be a state of the art nurse training facility including labs, classrooms and a library. Its distinctive features include a classical front portico, sun porches on the east side, and a rooftop porch.
Feebeck Hall, designed by Hentz, Adler and Schutz, was constructed during World War II to train nurses as part of the war effort. It is much simpler than Hentz, Reid and Schutz usually designed, due to its construction during wartime, but is ornamented by beautifully design: Georgian Revival door hoods, fine Flemish bond brickwork and double hung 8 over 12 windows.
Both buildings are proposed for demolition by Grady Memorial Hospital.
12. Judge William Wilson House, 501 Fairburn Road SW
The Judge William Wilson House, a two-story Greek Revival, is one of the rare pre-Civil War buildings still standing in Atlanta.
A two-story portico with a second floor porch was removed in the early 1960s when a two-story frame addition was constructed on the foundations of the portico. The kitchen was southwest of the house, but was demolished due to its deterioration in the 1960s.
The Wilson House remained in the family until 1962 when Dr. Thomas N. Guffin, great grandson of the builder, sold the property to the Holy Family Hospital so that it could be used as nurses’ quarters. Most recently it was used as a community center by Southwest Community Hospital.
The property is currently not in use and is not open to the public. It is in a state of advanced deterioration and when APC last visited it, the roof was collapsing and the stone walls had significant cracks.
13. Medical Arts Building, 384 Peachtree Street NE
At nearly 89,000 square feet, the Medical Arts Building was deemed among the most modern and well-equipped medical facilities when it opened. The building once featured a cafeteria, drugstore and telegraph office. It was also amongst the first in Atlanta to contain a covered parking garage. Today it is highly visible from the Downtown Connector.
The 12-story brick and limestone building by architect G. Lloyd Preacher, who also designed Atlanta’s City Hall, has been vacant since a four-alarm fire in 1995. Redevelopment plans have not come to fruition.
Years of vacancy have taken their toll on the structure. Most windows are currently damaged and the building continues to deteriorate.
14. Citizens & Southern National Bank, Moreland Avenue,1289 Moreland Avenue SE
The Moreland Avenue branch of Citizens & Southern National Bank (C&S) was the last of a series of projects designed by architect Kenneth Johnson that were commissioned by Mills Lane Jr. These projects included remodeling of a bank at Little Five Points (now known as the Star Bar), a cabin for a corporate retreat, and a branch bank on Roswell Road.
This building’s remarkable design is a response to its site located immediately to the west of Moreland Avenue and adjacent to a shopping center at 25 feet below street level. It is conceived as a curving set of six levels of spaces spiraling up around a central open court connecting the two levels of the site. The building’s inward focus emphasizes views of the plantings and fountain of the central court, avoiding the visual cacophony of Moreland Avenue.
Published in the August 1969 issue of Interior Design magazine the design is described as “…making the work spaces come alive with movement and creating a kind of ‘sculpture in motion.’” Johnson partnered with the Atlanta-based interior designer, William Trapnell, on many projects, including the C&S commissions.
Vacant for years, the future of the site is unsure at this time. An application for a demolition permit was filed with the city in late 2010. At the same time, a grassroots effort to raise awareness of the building and seek an alternative to demolition was growing.
15. Morris Brown College Campus, 643 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive NW
Morris Brown College was founded in 1881 by the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The oldest individual campus in the Atlanta University complex has belonged to Morris Brown College since 1932. All of these structures were built in the 19th century:
Fountain Hall is one of the few remaining buildings designed by Atlanta architect Gottfried L. Norrman. Opened in 1892, the Romanesque Revival building served as an administration building. It is designated a National Historic Landmark and an Atlanta Landmark Building.
Furber Cottage, a neo-Georgian two-story structure, was built in 1899 as a model home for economics classes. It is a contributing structure in the Atlanta University Center District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Gaines Hall is the oldest university building on the Atlanta campus. “Constructed in 1869, the Italianate building was designed by William H. Parkins, the first architect to practice after the Civil War. It is a contributing structure in the Atlanta University Center District listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Financial and accreditation problems continue to threaten the campus.
16. Peachtree Heights West, Peachtree Battle Avenue NW, Habersham Road NW
The illustrious New York firm of Carrère & Hastings did the landscape design and laid out the neighborhood. Peachtree Battle Avenue, graced with Peachtree Battle Parkway, and Habersham Road were designed as the main streets. An area once hardwood forest, became a huge landscaped residential park.
Approximately 400 homes on large lots make up Peachtree Heights. Styles tend to classical and traditional, with more recent in-fill construction on subdivided lots.
Prominent residences on sprawling, lush grounds showcase the work of some of Atlanta’s greatest architects, including Neel Reid, Philip Shutze and Buck Crook.
The neighborhood is currently threatened with teardown infill construction. Grand homes that once fronted Peachtree Road from Peachtree Battle Parkway north to West Paces Ferry Road have been demolished for construction of high-rises and commercial development.
17. Pickrick Cafeteria – Ajax Building, 881 Hemphill Street NW
In 1947, Lester Maddox and his wife opened the Pickrick Cafeteria at the Georgia Tech campus. The Pickrick Cafeteria is one of the sites of the struggle for civil rights in Atlanta.
The building became central to the fight for desegregation and helped launch the political career of the later Governor Lester Maddox. Maddox refused to comply with the Civil Rights act of 1964 and filed a lawsuit to continue his segregationist policies, stating he would rather close the restaurant than serve black people.
The one-story structure, which Georgia Tech purchased in 1965, is currently used as an overflow space for the campus police department. Georgia Tech has imminent plans to demolish the building to create urban green space.
18. Rufus M. Rose House, Peachtree Street NE
This home is the oldest remaining house on Peachtree Street. Designed by Atlanta architect Emil Charles Seitz Sr., the Queen Anne style house was built for Rufus M. Rose, who operated a distillery, R.M. Rose Co., and several shops selling his liquor, fine cigars and cigarette products. The business was forced to move to Tennessee in 1907 when Georgia became a “dry” state. For more than 50 years (1945-1998), it was the home of the Atlanta Museum, which displayed the eclectic collection of James H. Elliott, Sr., including furniture belonging to Margaret Mitchell and a Japanese Zero war plane. It was the headquarters of the Atlanta Preservation Center from 1999 through 2001. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is designated as an Atlanta Landmark Building.
The roofing has been removed, exposing it to elements. The house has been foreclosed on and needs preventive maintenance. It is currently listed for sale for $339,000.
19. Sherwood Forest, Robinhood Road NE, Frair Tuck Road NE
Sherwood Forest is a mid-century development, built on the estate of the Collier family, sometimes known called “Collier Woods”. Among the earliest settlers in the area, Meredith Collier and his family settled on approximately 2,000 acres of land alongside an old Creek Indian trail (Peachtree Street) which later became part of Sherwood Forest.
By 1906 Meredith Collier’s sons began selling parcels of their land trust. The first tract sold became Ansley Park and Ansley Golf Club. The last tract sold was Collier Woods, purchased by the developer Haas & Dodd.
Collier Woods was promoted as Sherwood Forest, Atlanta’s most posh post-World War II subdivision. It contains many high style Ranch houses. It is laid out in the automobile oriented fashion popular in the period. The Collier home was saved and continues to remain as part of the development.
The neighborhood is threatened by multiple demolitions and rapid infill construction.