April 17th, 2010 by admin Categories: Atlanta Destinations Featured No Responses

For over thirty years I have loved Atlanta. In return, Atlanta has loved me. For the past six years this is where I live. Embracing my ideal of a southern lifestyle, I jokingly refer to myself as a New Yorker in a self imposed exile, who just happens to reside happily in Atlanta…while living an adventure in reverse migration. Albeit this adventure is a circa twenty first century sojourn.

My acquaintance with Atlanta extends back to my childhood, when I enjoyed the occasional vacation in Atlanta, with my family. My father belonged to a national professional organization and during the 1970s the local Atlanta chapter would periodically host the annual convention. As a child, I knew very little about Civil Rights struggles, movements or memorials, beyond the whispered angst and vague details surrounding the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., eavesdropped from adult conversations. In hindsight, I realize that my parents, who were second generation northern born Southerners, fastidiously protected their children from the hostile realities of segregation, discrimination and Jim Crow legislation. Consequently, my memories of traveling south were limited yet warm and to Atlanta specifically, my recollections of the landscape and character of the people were both vivid and fond.

Therefore as we toured the twenty first century built environment of monuments, memorials and structures which significantly inform Atlanta’s place within the Civil Rights Movement, it soon became apparent that our exploration of the nuances of representation would prove to be a comprehensive journey indeed. After I reviewed my photographs for day one, I realized that my taste in building styles was surprisingly influenced by fondness for historic structures. Additionally, the photograph inventory confirmed my affinity for cornerstones, signage and any tableau that attractively displays the written word.

These images were captured when I participated in the Society of Architectural Historian Study Tour Fellowship.  The SAH Study Tour Fellowship provided me the opportunity to enhance my understanding of the significance of architectural structures and commemorative monuments within the context of the American Civil Rights Movement. These memorials appear in abundance across the southern landscape, depicting a plethora of activity marking the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. As we began our journey I was not sure of what to expect, however I remember that my enthusiasm and excitement grew with every step that we took on our ambulatory review through history.

Above and below, are cornerstones for the Wheat Street Baptist Church, located at 365 Auburn Avenue.


There is nothing really historically significant about this sign I just liked the name “Soul Food Museum”.   Summer 2010: the historically significant  “Soul Food Museum” collection is on exhibition in the Alcove Gallery at the Auburn Avenue Research Library,  contact the AARL for details.



First Congregational Church cornerstone, as you can tell by the 1867 founding date this is one of the oldest church communities in Atlanta.  Down thread is an image of the church building.

Partial sign identifying Thornton Dial as the sculpture of that designed “The Bridge”.




We topped off the day at “The Bridge” memorial, designed by Thorton Dial to commemorate John Lewis’ participation in the Selma to Montgomery March, Bloody Sunday and his activism, political influence and service in the Freedom Parkway controversy. We were met by Robert M. Craig, Architectural Historian from Georgia Institute of Technology, he graciously discussed the details of citizen resistance to urban renewal, and ensuing debates surrounding the construction of Freedom Parkway.



The Bridge, located in John Lewis Plaza at the junction of Freedom Parkway and Ponce de Leon Avenue, is a massive structure that is difficult image to capture in its entirety.  This works to our advantage because it means that two images can be shown.



The First Congregational Church, 105 Courtland Street.



Oh my! This image is where you have caught me resting my feet and sitting in a window well in front of the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Fondly known as the AARL, this is decidedly one of my most favorite places in all of Atlanta! The archives has several processed collections that document regional African American influences second to none in the U.S. South. As is quite apparent by the look on my face, I was all tuckered out and attempting to rest up for at least another two hours of exploration. Regardless of how tired I was, we all had a blast.  

These ruins of the original Atlanta Life Insurance building are still very architecturally appealing.


The main structure of the Odd Fellows Building was completed in 1912 and the auditorium partially visible on the left side was completed two years later in 1914.



Architectural Historian, Dell Upton (low left corner) shares information and insights with the group about the architectural design and features of the Odd Fellows Building, (circa 1912 – 1914) located at 250 Auburn Avenue.


The Prince Hall Masonic Hall, 332 -34 Auburn Avenue, (circa 1937 – 1941) boasts arched window frames visible on the lower level. Masonic medallions and signage date stamp are displayed in the masonry between the upper floors of the facade and near the roofline on the parapet.


At the end of a long and hot day in Atlanta, the alley housing restoration team is seated in the shade on the porch and glimpses of the downtown Atlanta skyline, are visible on the left, in the near distant background.


The alley houses adjacent to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birth home were undergoing restoration at the time that these photograph was taken. We were advised that the garage in the foreground is an original structure that would also be renovated after the restoration of the alley houses is completed.


The rear view of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birth home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue (circa 1895).

A portion of our group as we listen to the National Park Service Ranger in the rear yard, as the tour of the Dr. Martin L. King Jr. birth home comes to an end.

Tours of Atlanta and Excursions in the South.

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