Landmarks are not created by architects… The essential feature of a landmark is not its design, but the place it holds in a city’s memory.
National Trust For Historic Preservation Names Georgia’s Sweet Auburn Historic District to its 2012 List of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places®
Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Sweet Auburn Historic District in Atlanta, Ga., to its 2012 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. This annual list spotlights important examples of the nation’s architectural, cultural and natural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage. More than 230 sites have been on the list over its 25-year history, and in that time, only a handful of listed sites have been lost.
Despite its rich historical and cultural significance, the historic commercial district dominated by Auburn Avenue, once known as “the richest Negro street in the world,” spiraled into decline in the 1980s. The National Trust first named Sweet Auburn to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1992. Despite the remarkable turnaround of the residential portion of the Sweet Auburn Historic District — thanks largely to the efforts of the Historic District Development Corporation, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Atlanta Preservation Center — the commercial area concentrated on Auburn Avenue has not fared as well. Two decades after the National Trust first helped bring national attention to the area’s plight, Sweet Auburn continues to be in need of a preservation-focused commercial revitalization plan to avert deterioration and inappropriate development that will gravely impact its historic character.
“The rich history of Sweet Auburn and its inspiring preservation efforts should be celebrated,” said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Since the National Trust first named the neighborhood to our endangered list in 1992, local preservationists have been successful in revitalizing the residential portion of Sweet Auburn. Now, we must work together and match that success by transforming the commercial areas of the neighborhood, thereby ensuring that Sweet Auburn fully returns to its former glory as a thriving community.”
Members of the public are invited to learn more about what they can do to support these 11 historic places and hundreds of other endangered sites at www.PreservationNation.org/places
COMMERCIAL ROW PROJECT
Look what we discovered under the carpet at the AHC’s Commerical Row! The floors are most likely from the 1930s when the building was used as a Drug Store. We’ll post more pics after they’ve been restored!
Margaret Mitchell House Through the Years
The home where Margaret Mitchell penned the epic novel Gone With the Wind has a rich and storied past. Pictured in the background, the house was originally built as a single-family residence in 1899 in one of Atlanta’s most fashionable neighborhoods. However, commercial development quickly overtook the neighborhood and in 1907 the original family moved to Druid Hills. The house changed hands several times until the winter of 1913-1914 when the house was moved onto a new basement story constructed at the rear of the lot. Given a Crescent Avenue address, the building was remodeled in 1919 and converted into a ten-unit apartment building known as the Crescent Apartments.
Unfortunately, the owner became over-extended, and the building was sold at auction in 1926. The next owner, too, was driven to bankruptcy when the stock market crashed in 1929. Maintenance declined, contributing to Mitchell’s characterization of her apartment as “the Dump.” By the fall of 1931, there were only two occupied apartments in the building, one of which belonged to Mitchell, but she, too, moved to a larger apartment a few blocks away in the spring of 1932.
In 1946 the porches were removed from the Crescent Avenue side of the building. (The original front porches were lost when the building was moved in 1913). By the 1950s, the building was mostly vacant and overdue for rehabilitation. In 1977, the last tenants were evicted and the building boarded up by a new owner who intended to redevelop the area. By the time his company went bankrupt in the late 1980s, their only accomplishment was the construction of a new office building at Tenth and W. Peachtree, and the razing of dozens of historic buildings in the area. Later, the house was set aflame by arsonists, causing much damage to the structure.
With the corporate support of Daimler-Benz, restoration began in 1995 under the direction of the Atlanta architectural firm of Surber, Barber, Choate, and Hertlein. Because the commercial buildings on Peachtree that once blocked the house were gone, the original Tudor Revival facade of the house was again visible and it was decided to restore that facade to its appearance before the house was moved in 1914. At the same time, the original Crescent Avenue facade of the Crescent Apartments would be restored so that visitors could experience the apartment building that Mitchell knew. The project was to be completed in time for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.
In May 1996, days before it was slated to open as the Margaret Mitchell House Museum, arsonists struck again. The building was gutted by fire. Ironically, through the series of fires, Apartment #1, Mitchell’s apartment, escaped with only minor damage.
After the fire, with the corporate support of Daimler-Benz, restoration began anew.
The restored house finally opened to the public in 1997. The Margaret Mitchell House is now owned and operated by the Atlanta History Center, and is included on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, visitors who come to the Margaret Mitchell House enter through the Crescent Avenue entrance - the same entrance Margaret used when she lived in the historic structure.
To learn more about the Margaret Mitchell House, click here.
The Dixon-King “shotgun” house was built around 1890 and was originally located in the Atlanta University Center neighborhood. The original 40ft. x 100ft. lot was purchased for $75 by Seaborn Thomas in 1886. In 1893 he leased the house to Andrew Williams, a deliveryman for Kelley Bros. & Bullard Co., wholesale grocers. Sometime between 1897 and 1899, a carpenter named Asbury Dixon purchased the house. It remained in Dixon family until 1993 when it was acquired by the AHC. Abandoned since 1986, the house was disassembled and reconstructed at the AHC. Today the house appears much as it would have in the late 1800s - early 1900s.
To see the house in person, visit Metropolitan Frontiers at the Atlanta History Center.
Rhodes Mansion, Atlanta Swan House, Atlanta
Have you ever driven down West Paces Ferry and passed the Rhodes Mansion? Did you notice how similar it is to Swan House? If you did, you’re not alone. People often comment on how similar the mansions are, and ask who designed them, who lived in them, and which one was built first.
Scuola dei Tiraoro e Battiloro, Rome Rhodes Mansion, Atlanta
Lets begin with the Rhodes Mansion (locally known as the Pink Palace). Completed in 1926, the house was designed by Atlanta architects Neel Reid and Philip Shutze. Built for the Joseph D. Rhodes family (of Rhodes Furniture), the six-bedroom mansion was styled after a small building in Venice, Italy, named the Scuola dei Tiraoro e Battiloro (pictured above, left).
Fountains at Villa Corsini, Rome Fountains at Swan House, Atlanta
Swan House, completed in 1928, was also designed by Atlanta architect Philip Shutze. Built for the Edward H. Inman family (heirs to a cotton brokerage fortune), the mansion was styled after historic Italian structures Shutze studied while overseas, including the fountains at Villa Corsini in Rome.
So next time you see these grand Atlanta mansions, remember that while they are just a few miles apart, and are very similar, they have much more in common with buildings 5,000 miles away!
For more information about Swan House, click here.