A win for historical preservation in Atlanta?

by Peter Thomas Ricci


Atlanta has received criticism in the past for its lacking preservation standards, but it seems the local preservation community can take some pride in a recent victory.

As Curbed Atlanta detailed, when the Engineer’s Bookstore – a brick structure near Georgia Tech that was originally built in 1930 as a five-and-ten-cent store – was threatened with demolition for a new gas station, local preservationists rallied support behind the old building. And now, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission has nominated Means Street (which includes the bookstore) as a landmark district.

Landmark status would protect the building, but interestingly, it may not even be necessary – the owners of the bookstore have now indicated that they will not demolish the building, and will instead work with the community to repurpose it.

Meanwhile, preservationists have launched a new landmarking campaign for the former Trust Company Bank branch on Monroe Drive.

The precarious state of preservation

Despite the recent success of the Engineer’s Bookstore, preservationists have their work cut out for them. Not only is the list of endangered historical buildings long, but the rumor mill is also vibrant with new demolition plans.

The most recent is the Grand Park School, which was constructed in 1930 and is now facing demolition for new construction, according to the Atlanta Preservation Alliance. The school, which is currently part of the Atlanta Art Exchange, would be cleared to make way for an Urban Realty Partners development with townhomes, condos and apartments.

As Curbed Atlanta explained it, the school is located near the future Beltline trail at Bill Kennedy Parkway, and as such the underlying land is quite valuable. Yet, Alice Lovelace, the president of the board of directors of Arts Exchange, has said the building “will not be demolished.” It will be interesting to see if the preservation community receives another lucky break with its next initiative.

Photo Credit: John Phelan, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unportedhttps://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Engineer%27s_Bookstore,_Georgia_Tech,_Atlanta_GA.jpg

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