A Look Back
Dec. 2, 1933: The new $3 million United States Post Office building opened at Forsyth, Hunter (now, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and Spring streets. Architect A. Ten Eyck Brown with associates Alfredo Barili and J. Wharton Humphreys designed the art deco icon, placed on the National Register in 1974. It served as a post office until acquired by the United States General Service Administration (GSA) in 1983. In 1988, it was the first federal building to bear the name of the famous civil rights leader. It has housed several federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Currently, the building serves as a regional headquarters for GSA. In November 2011, Central Atlanta Progress presented an Atlanta Downtown Design Excellence Award-Office Category to the Beck Group/Lord Aeck & Sargent for its extensive $47 million interior rehabilitation of this 78 year old historic building, rededicated this past January.
Dec. 11, 1927: Construction of the Crum & Forster building was under way on the corner of Spring Street and Armistead Place, south of the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel. The building was for the prominent insurance company’s new southern headquarters. In 2007, the Georgia Tech Foundation bought the building for $11 million. In 2008, the foundation sought a demolition permit, which the Atlanta Urban Design Commission denied. Officials of the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Midtown building on its “2009 Places in Peril” list. By August, the Atlanta City Council unanimously supported designating the Crum & Forster as an Atlanta landmark historic site, backed by Mayor Shirley Franklin’s signing the official document. The foundation appealed the decision but lost. As of November 2011, the unused Crum & Forster building remains standing and its future is still uncertain.
Dec. 11, 1911: The Southern Poultry Show, branded as the largest and greatest ever seen south of the Mason and Dixon line, opened at the Atlanta Auditorium-Armory on Courtland Street. The main hall resembled a barnyard with all numerous coops housing 4,000 birds. The Federal Department of Animal Industry presented lectures and demonstrations and was well-attended by editors of the industry magazines. From Jan. 24 to Jan. 26, 2012 the International Poultry and International Feed Expo sponsored by the US Poultry and Egg Association and American Feed Industry Association will return to Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center.
Dec. 13, 1920: The doors of the Howard Theatre at 163 Peachtree Street opened to the public. Hailed as the south’s palatial picture show palace, it was the city’s first million dollar theater built by two prominent Atlantans – international cotton mogul George Troup Howard and Stephen A. Lynch of Southern Theatrical Enterprise. Always Audacious was the main feature, a melodrama starring Wallace Reid. Two years after Howard’s death in August 1929, new owners Paramount-Publix changed the theater’s name to Paramount. The old Paramount is where Elvis Presley fans wowed Atlanta audiences in 10 shows over three days in 1956. In 1960, the building was razed. It once stood north of today’s Georgia Pacific Center.
Dec. 31, 1999: The blue neon sign carrying the message “Jesus Saves” on the 200-foot steeple of Big Bethel’s African Methodist Episcopal Church it lit once again. In 1994, due to neglect, rust and pigeons, the sign burned out. The sign first graced the church in 1922.