A Look Back: This month in Intown history

Plaza TheatreBy Ann Taylor Boutwell

Aug. 4, 1897: U.S. President William McKinley appointed Atlanta resident Henry Rucker (1855-1931) as collector of internal revenue for Georgia. Rucker was the first African American to serve this post.

Aug. 6, 1928: Atlanta City Council voted to rename a section of Jackson Street from Ponce de Leon to 10th Street as Parkway Drive. In 1895, at the time of the Cotton States Exposition, the Sanborn Map noted Jackson Street as stretching all the way from the Fourth Ward to the 10th Street Piedmont Park entrance. By the 1960s, that same section of Parkway Drive was changed to Charles Allen Drive.

Aug. 12, 1968: Department store Saks Fifth Avenue opened its 28th location at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.

Aug. 18, 1940: Rev. Edward Randolph Carter of Friendship Baptist Church invited the public to hear his famous choir. Established in 1862 and independently organized in 1866, Friendship was Atlanta’s first Black Baptist autonomous congregation. Located in Vine City, the church recently agreed to sell its property to make way for the new Falcon’s stadium.

Aug. 19, 1916: Georgia’s first compulsory school attendance law was signed by Gov. Nathaniel Harris. The legislation required children aged 8-14 to attend school for at least four months each year. However, a long list of exemptions seriously weakened the law. For example, school attendance was not required of children who had completed the fourth grade, who needed to work to help support their family, whose parents could not afford to buy books and clothing, or who lived over three miles from school. Additionally, local boards of education could excuse children from attending school “for other good reasons.”

Aug. 25, 1983: The historic Plaza Theatre (pictured above) at 1049 Ponce de Leon Avenue, originally designed by Atlanta architect George H. Bond, had its grand reopening. Guest donated $15 each to the Atlanta Zoological Society (now Zoo Atlanta) to view the movie The Women, which also played at the first opening in 1939. The Plaza is now a nonprofit theater showing first-run indies and classic films. For current listings, check out the Plaza at plazaatlanta.com.

Aug. 30, 2005: Dr. Charles Livingstone Allen (1913-2005) died in Houston, TX age 92. For 12 years he was pastor at Grace United Methodist Church at 458 Ponce de Leon Avenue. During that time, his congregation became one of the largest Methodist churches in the Southeast. In 1949, he wrote daily columns for the Atlanta Constitution and initiated a radio broadcast on WAGA. After the 1954 Brown versus Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools, Allen and 79 other pastors created, signed and published the Ministers Manifesto, which called for moderation, communication between the races, racial amity, and obedience to the law. After he moved to Houston in 1960, the section of Parkway Drive from North Ponce de Leon to 10th Street was renamed Charles Allen Drive.

Ann BoutwellAnn Taylor Boutwell is an Atlanta historian, tour guide and docent at the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum. Email her at annboutwell@bellsouth.net

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