Goodbye Masquerade / Old Excelsior Mill

Curbed Atlanta issued Breaking News on Friday…

A Demolition Permit has been Issued for Excelsior Mill.

The ca. 1890 Georgia granite, wood and steel industrial building may be the finest example extant of an 19th c. Atlanta industrial building– especially due to it’s extensive original hand wrought iron machinery still intact.

The loss of the music venue, itself, is notable for many, a crime for some, but as we saw on Peachtree St a decade ago, loud music clubs don’t seem to “mix” well with residential neighbors. Even if they are landmark-level Atlanta favorites. Sad, crazy, but true.

However, let’s get real, the industrial look is super hot right now (even more so– and it has been hot for many years). As well as anything that is authentic. We are all wanting authenticity, whether you are a millennial or not. Well, there could be nothing more authentic than North Avenue’s Excelsior Mill.


Sure, to some, it is a dump. It is ugly. But before the upstairs was painted black (above) it looked a bit better. And, with some restoration, new windows and adaptive reuse, you’d be surprised how cool looking this building could be. In San Francisco or New York, it would be worth many more millions. It could be here, too.

Place a glass box on top of it! A great example of adaptive reuse.

Previous Mayor of Atlanta Maynard Jackson called this (below) “a hunk of junk”, wanting it razed immediately:

The Castle on Peachtree at 15th St was falling down for decades– and it was a dump! Now take a look. Does it add anything to the neighborhood?

The old mill would make several great rustic contemporary restaurants…

TECH, law firm, architects’ or investment bankers’ offices…

Awesome sexy gym, amazing boutique hotel…

or new Atlanta Museum of Industrial Design.

Great, thick, natural stone walls, on the building and landscape walls. Huge, thick timbers.
Cool sculptures, ready for a new, cleaner platform.
Nice real masonry arched windows– nothing fake here. Grand staircase, may or may not be useful. Nice views, interesting hilly terrain. Actually looks like it maybe from Provence or Tuscany.
Atlanta History Center likes it, so would you, after it is reimagined.
More stonework, more hand-wrought iron… all sculptures ready for new life– right where it has been for 125 years…
Cool space, but good architects could make it as pristine as the new use needs.

ex mill

Really, do we need anymore dull, mediocre-designed apartment buildings in the trendy O4W neighborhood?

Take a look at some of these in the area: (Granted, there are some others that are good designs)

“montage, they meant, paste-up”
“ok, I get it, you were going for low-rent NYC, great.”
“What? Please?”, “well, the cars are colorful”

These don’t look good now, and they are brand-spankin’ new. How do you think they will look in 125 years? I’m sure they will be gone– let’s hope so.

I wonder what the developer did to these architects to design such banal buildings? S&M, I can be sure.

Will the new developers guarantee a design that is cutting edge and more interesting than the old Excelsior Mill?

“Great cities are made of layers upon layers of human constructions.”

And, no matter what you say, Atlanta will be that way one day, too. It has already begun. Why delay the building of layers of new cutting edge buildings alongside old oddities next door?

Atlanta has it with this building. Will the NPU work to save this richly textured edifice?

For instance, below are a series of pictures of changes on one block off MLK, nearby, at the Capitol, over several years:

1. The oldest picture, maybe 5-10 years ago.
2) Then, a few years later. Ok, some buildings vanished, but, hey, surely they will save this sculptural construction and adapt it for today…
3) The recent pic. The transformation is complete. Everything is new. Isn’t it beautiful? This IS what you wanted, right?

Recommendations to NPU and anyone interested: save this building.

To the developer: Hire a great architect (you have Smith-Dalia, don’t you???); let them get creative!

They will make your money back many times over.

And you will appear to be much cooler in the process. After a few times of this, dear developer, you may actually BE cool, as well as rich.


6 thoughts on “Goodbye Masquerade / Old Excelsior Mill

  1. You would think with PCM across the street it’s connected bridge to the or with finally more modern housing although overly expensive thoughout O4w back to Edgewood Ave. you would see some smart adaptive reuse incorporating the Mill. Good choice with Smith-Dalia they obviously have some ideas being so close all this time. Btw, I’ve been thinking about, looking for someone adventurous to take the top off a old bldg., small apt. and add a variation of a glass box for decades.


  2. This kind of thing kills me – I’m so sorry to see that building go. You make wonderful points here, Wayne. (I don’t know if you would remember me – I was Jaina’s friend, but lost touch with her years ago. I heard the news – would like to talk to you sometime. Lynn


  3. Hello ! I’ve enjoyed reading your posts and appreciate the time and effort that has obviously gone into it. One suggestion – it would be a good idea to acknowledge the source of the images that appear throughout your blog. Dozens of the images, including 5 on this page alone, were taken from my blog Return To Atlanta, my aviation website Sunshine Skies, my Flickr account and my contributions to the Atlanta Time Machine. I’m always happy to share but attribution or links to the original pages would be appreciated.

    David Henderson


    1. David, You are so right. I haven’t allocated enough time and effort to make sure the beautiful photography is well enough credited. Most are from Google searches. I sincerely apologize if I have not accredited your images properly. I will make certain to do better in the future.


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