We need someone with a big vision and deep, deep pockets to help SE ATL save a crazy-unique mid-century modern classic commercial building. We simply cannot allow this structure to be destroyed. (See Call-to-Action below.)
This essay is about a property in on Moreland in Southeast Atlanta, south of I-20, on what is known as the South Moreland Corridor. (For those who know me, you know that I’m involved in my community, But I’m launching this initiative is purely as a resident interested in historic preservation.)
Until Sunday, I knew nothing about the history of this building, besides it was a very odd, fascinating structure. I’ve been driving past this property for over three years, wondering about its story.
So on Friday, I snapped a shot of it, and over the weekend, I posted a shot of a property and sent it to the surrounding neighborhoods’ listservs with this question: This structure has intrigued me since I moved here. What the heck is it and what is its history? It’s located on Moreland, just south of the IGA on the western side of Moreland. So what’s the scoop, folks?
Turns out it long-time residents couldn’t wait to share:
The structure was a Citizens & Southern (C&S) Bank , which was the Atlanta bank back in the day and intimately tied to Atlanta’s economic progress. (Unfortunately, C&S was also involved in the construction of the original Fulton County Stadium ’60s, which resulted in the destruction of the largely middle-class African American neighborhoods of Summerhill, Mechanicsville, Peoplestown, which are now making a comeback.)
In any case, C&S was the largest bank in the South in the ‘70s. C&S also seemed to have a thing for round/circular buildings: its headquarters in upper Downtown was round, and so was the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium it was so involved in developing.)
Interestingly, the building we want to save – this odd climbing helix structure – is also circular.
Please look at all of the photos Ormewood Park resident Tim Flanagan found online (two are included in this post). Unfortunately, while I’d love to credit the amazing photog, ”The Man Who Can’t Sit Still,” I can’t get in touch with him through that website.
Check out his photos: what an amazing structure! I can’t believe it’s still that intact. Check out the stilts; its courtyard and surrounding nature is visible from every angle.
And it’s for sale, too, at the bargain price of $750K… are they kidding? This isn’t Inman Park or even East Atlanta.
It was great hearing from long-time residents who remember the structure when it was still a bank:
Ormewood Park resident Brent Corcoran remembers: built in the late 70′s, very modern for its time an “O” design. solid wall on the outer ring, glass on the inner ring overlooking a court yard. the turret looking thing on the left, tagged with graffiti, was the vault. The metal awning to the right of the structure.. was an elevated walk way.
Another long-time Ormewood Park resident Ken Boff recalls: (When it was a C&S Bank), the teller stations all faced the glassed-in center core, and there was an evergreen tree growing out there (in the center courtyard). The big problem was that it wasn’t all on the same level. Every so often there was a step down, like that Escher drawing where the stairs go down forever, which made it impossible from a wheelchair access standpoint. But that was during the ’70′s when architects loved to put stairs everywhere. It’s a cool building, in its own strange way.
We’ve heard that this property is slated for demolition. We simply cannot allow this building to be demolished!
Everyone in Atlanta, on Facebook, across the country — members of the Mills Bee Lane Memorial Foundation, the Urban Design Commission, the Atlanta Preservation Center — anyone and everyone who is interested in historical preservation — who love crazy-wacky mid-century modern commercial properties, look at these photographs.
We need to create a coalition, backed, of course, by our generous architectural, community angels/backers with big visions and deep-pockets — of these groups:
- All of our SE ATL neighborhoods;
- ALL of Atlanta;
- Every single online and intown historic preservationist — especially those who love crazy-wild mid-century modern structures featuring a climbing helix design… (And what’s not to love about that?)
Then we must all get together behind this rescue mission, pool our contacts – especially any financially generous, architectural “angels” with a particular affection for wacky-climbing-helix-mid-century-modern-former-banks – and work together and save this crazy-unique property!
Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could save, rehab, renovate and bring this one-of-a-kind architectural jewel up to code so that it could be used as a community center, a for community meetings… including appropriate branding for aforementioned architectural angels, of course.
Southeast Atlanta has so few public architectural treasures.