ATLANTA’S JAZZ-AGE ART DECO ARCHITECTURE

A global high point of 1925,

was the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts, held in Paris. Art Nouveau was a style popular in Europe for a few years before the Expo, but afterwards, the style became popular all over the world– anywhere people wanted to exhibit optimism and luxurious style. Thus the style of Art Deco was born.

The style fit Atlanta’s exuberant and aspirational nature perfectly, so it was quite popular here from 1925 to 1940.

As a center for commerce, we will first take a look at Atlanta’s Art Deco commercial architecture.

In 1928, construction began on the Southern Bell Telephone & Telegraph building, now the AT&T Communications Building. First designed to be 25 floors, the Depression delayed it to several construction periods to bring it  up to its final 14 floors. The building’s limestone and stepped forms are reminiscent of New York skyscrapers of the period.

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Around 1961, courtesy Georgia State Library
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Originally on Ivy Street, the name of one of Atlanta’s first settlers, it is now on Peachtree Center Ave. Note the bronze lanterns and detailed carving.

 

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This fine photo, from History Atlanta, shows the carved limestone details.
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The Rhodes Haverty Building
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Rhodes Haverty interior by Architecture Tourist

Regenstein’s was a ladies fine fashions department store. The building remains on the corner of Peachtree and Andrew Young International Blvd., downtown.

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A good view of its limestone details, courtesy of Places To Go

Further south along Peachtree, at Five Points, The William-Oliver Building was built in 1930 by architect Francis Palmer Smith.

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Photo by Places To Go

 

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Originally an office building, it now houses apartments.

 

 

 

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William-Oliver bronze canopy.

 

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William-Olver Art deco window details ( photo by Places To Go)

 

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Limestone 33 Park Place is soon to be renovated, pic by Wendy Darling

 

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The old Atlanta Constitution building, in the Art Moderne or Streamlined style, just barely hangs on today, at the Gulch.

 

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One of Atlanta’s Art Deco Kress Stores (the other at 10th and Peachtree, Midtown) still stands on South Peachtree, waiting to be restored. Photo by Wayne Anderson

 

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The Art Deco Lerner Shop awaits renovation, perhaps soon, by the new Underground Atlanta Developer/owner.

 

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The striking atrium of the elegant twin towers of the Healy Building.

 

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The elegant Nabisco Building still exists, I believe, south of Downtown along I-75.

 

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The Troy-Peerless building, houses lofts.

 

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The White Provisions Building is now a successful upscale retail center, on Midtown’s Westside. by Wiebkefesch

 

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The Olympia Building has just been completely restored, at Five Points.

 

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This mountain of a beautiful building was never constructed.

 

Many of Atlanta’s civic and government buildings were constructed in Art Deco’s various styles. The most monumental of them all is the Atlanta City Hall.

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Art deco entrance of City Hall. Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Art deco entrance of Atlanta City Hall, with bronze doors and terra-cotta details.

 

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This is the current Georgia Supreme Court– which will get a new $110 million home soon. This 1930’s building is likely to remain, though repurposed.

 

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Built as the Central Post Office, this Georgia granite Deco structure has been reborn as the MLK, Jr. Federal Office Building.

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Art Deco Municipal Auditorium is now part of Georgia State University. Atlanta Founder Joel Hurt Fountain is being restored.

 

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Sparks Hall, a GSU Georgia granite deco building.

 

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The third, and growing, Atlanta Airport of 1940.

 

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The Annex to the Carnegie Library was a pared-down Art Deco structure built from Georgia granite.
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Beautiful sculpture were an integral part of the granite Deco government buildings of south Downtown

 

 

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Some residential buildings were built in the Art Deco styles, and some were quite amazing– like this home on Peachtree Battle Drive.

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A Deco apartment building on Briarcliff (pic by Craig Bromley)

 

 

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Buckhead mansion by Reid & Schutze, Atlanta architects.

Perhaps the most extravagant Art Deco buildings were the film palaces, and Atlanta had more than it’s share of them.

Most were clustered at the old theatre district, where Margaret Mitchell Square and Peachtree Center are today. They are almost all gone, including the Lowe’s Grand Theatre, where Gone With The Wind premiered in 1939. The Lowe’s Grand Theatre was originally the DeGive’s Opera House. Also lost were the Erlanger Theatre, Paramount Theatre, Palace Theatre, Bijou Theatre, and Roxy Theatre.

But, thanks to the work of many 1970 Atlantans, the

Fabulous Fox Theatre

still thrives today.

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The proscenium, looking toward the audience, starry skies and canopies above.
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The Fox, prior to restoration.

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Also, the Buckhead Theatre, and Plaza Theatre

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The Buckhead Teatre on Loudermilk Square, Buckhead Village
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Plaza Theatre on Ponce de Leon

And, of course , the Art Deco Diners:

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The Varsity is the most famous and still serving.

 

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Leb’s is long gone…

 

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The Majestic still survives, right next door to the Plaza Theatre, still showing films.

 

In the 1980’s through today, Atlanta has experienced a resurgence of buildings that have some of the qualities of, or could be considered as, neo-Art Deco, and are exceptionally notable:

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First came, The Buckhead Diner

 

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Richard Meier’s late modernist masterpiece, the High Museum of Art, has references to the Streamlined or Art Moderne styles, arguably.

 

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The Promenade or AT&T Building seems to reference Art Deco aspirationalism.

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The Four Seasons Atlanta, references NewYork’s art deco skyscrapers.
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The lobby of The Four Seasons could have sported Flapper girls doing The Charleston.
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I’m not sure how to categorize the Grady Hospital Addition, but it looks vaguely Deco to me….
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A recent office design for Alston & Byrd Law in Midtown.
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The Livingston Restaurant at The Georgian Terrace inspires Art Deco jazz-age feelings.
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Even the modern design of the Lowe’s Hotel Midtown…
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And, most definitely, Robert Stern’s Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, Midtown.

 

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Finally, Roche & Dinkeloo’s Bank of America Plaza captures the uplifting, soaring spirit of the Empire State Building for the capital of the South.

 

 

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