Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Little Background on a Few of Atlanta's Abandoned Buildings

Curbed Atlanta is running a piece on Atlanta's "most annoyingly vacant" buildings, many of which are historic. Here is a little more background on a few of those...

The Atlanta Life Insurance Buildings

Adjoining empty buildings at 142 Auburn Ave. downtown. Courtesy of Curbed Atlanta
The core of the building on the right was originally built sometime prior to 1892; the neoclassical facade added in 1927. Originally a residence, this structure housed the Atlanta Life Insurance Company from 1920-1980. The annex, the building on the left, was built in 1936. Alonzo Herndon, founder of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company was a former slave who became one of the richest African-Americans of the time.

Undated postcard courtesy of the Atlanta Time Machine

The Medical Arts Building

Medical Arts Building: 384 Peachtree St. Courtesy of Curbed Atlanta.
The Medical Arts Building was built in 1927 by Lloyd Preacher, the same architect behind Atlanta's City Hall. At the time of construction, it was the most advanced medical facility in the country. After a fire in 1995, the building has sat vacant. Efforts to save the building by the Atlanta Preservation Center, Atlanta Downtown Neighborhood Association, and Keep Atlanta Beautiful  have failed.

Atlanta City Hall, Built 1930 by Lloyd Preacher.
The Atlanta Constitution Building

This architecturally significant building at the corner of Alabama and Forsyth streets has long been abandoned. Courtesy of Curbed Atlanta.
The Art Moderne Atlanta Constitution Building was constructed in 1947 and designed by Robert and Company. The building housed the headquarters of the Atlanta Constitution newspaper until its consolidation with the Atlanta Journal. The newspaper subsequently outgrew its building and moved in 1953. Georgia Power moved into the building in 1955 until 1960. The Atlanta Constitution Building has been vacant since 1972. It is currently owned by the Georgia Department of Transportation and is slated for rehabilitation after two decades of uncertainty over its structural integrity.

Atlanta Constitution Building, 1947
The Ivy-Walnut Building

Faded paint proclaiming a Mexican restaurant, 25 Auburn Ave. Courtesy of Curbed Atlanta.
In 1920, Southern Bell opened a new building at 25 Auburn Avenue. The building was initially referred to as the Ivy-Walnut Building. Around 1968, Trust Company Bank made an agreement with Southern Bell to purchase the land at this site in exchange for the property at the corner of Courtland Street and Auburn Avenue. Southern Bell then leased the 25 Auburn Avenue property back from Trust Company, with the intention of moving out of the building. Southern Bell stayed in the building for about 10 more years and the building has sat vacant since. - http://www.atlantatelephonehistory.info/offices_atlanta.html

The Rufus M. Rose House

This very old house: 537 Peachtree St. Courtesy of Curbed Atlanta.

The Queen Anne Style Rufus M. Rose House, built by a liquor purveyor in 1901, is now one of Peachtree Street’s last remaining private homes. For many years it was home to the eclectic (and now defunct) Atlanta Museum. It has been vacant since 2001, when the Atlanta Preservation Center moved out.

There are countless more vacant and abandoned historic buildings in Atlanta. There are also, we can be quite sure, interesting histories behind nearly every one of the buildings and sites listed in the Curbed Atlanta article. For sure, this has been an exercise in armchair advocacy, and so we don't have the story behind the Sophie Mae Candy Company Building on North Avenue, or the dozen or so other vacant buildings on Auburn, Broad, and Peachtree. There are, however, two more vacant and abandoned buildings we'd like to add to this list:

The Craigie House/ DAR Headquarters

The Craigie House, which sits across the street from Piedmont Park, was built in 1911 as a headquarters for Georgia’s first chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The building was used by the DAR until 1985 when it was damaged by a fallen tree. Inman Park Properties (the notorious 'developer' and ruiner of many of Atlanta's historic properties, and who we have mentioned before) purchased the property in 2001 and subsequently went bankrupt. The building has sat vacant since.

Pratt-Pullman Yard

The Pratt Engineering/Pullman Company property is a historic industrial complex located in the Kirkwood neighborhood of Atlanta. Construction of the first buildings began in 1904, followed by a second building campaign when the Pullman Company bought the property in 1926. The site is currently owned by the state of Georgia and has been abandoned since 1996.

Perhaps, the lesson to be learned from these stories, is that a city needs to identify its historic resources long before they become threatened. Owning a historic building then becomes an honor and a responsibility, but not one the building owners must bear on their own (because that, of course, would cause many to shy away from owning a historic building). Training, assistance with a long-term management and dispossession plan, and public funds for maintenance and disaster response should be earmarked for these cultural resources. And, when it comes to abandonment within the city limits, there should be a process by which the city can confiscate the property and auction it off to a willing and able public, with covenant protections for its continued conservation.

Know of another vacant and abandoned historic property in Atlanta? Tell us about it here in the comments and then head over to Curbed Atlanta and do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Surely the mansion and grounds of Briarcliff, the once palatial estate of Asa G. (Buddy) Candler, Jr., has plummeted to the level of dereliction required for designation of a "most annoying vacant building" in Atlanta for inclusion in the list for Rag and Bone. The condition of the grounds with its cluttered array of machinery and equipment just inside the walls of the property at the corner of Briarcliff Road and University Avenue is an eyesore in the historic Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta. As this property is listed as part of the Emory Campus is appears that to leave the property abandoned and unkempt seems quite disrespectful toward the memory of the family who so well endowed Emory University. Such similar fate once attended Callenwolde, another of the Candler family estates, which was reclaimed from near ruin to become the lovely cultural center just south of this estate on Briarcliff Road.