Atlanta has more than earned its reputation as a city too focused on the future to preserve its past. Just 42 years ago, we nearly allowed our premier architectural gem, the Fox Theatre, to be torn down and turned into a parking lot. Aghast citizens successfully petitioned to save it, but here lie six great buildings that weren’t so lucky.
This elegant Beaux Arts train station (designed by the same firm that created the Fox) was topped with a red tile roof and twin minarets. It was once Atlanta’s transportation hub, where well-heeled travelers like FDR, commuters, and soldiers would hop on the Crescent route to ride to New York and New Orleans. Its demolition—to make way for the Richard B. Russell Federal Building—is considered by many to be the city’s single greatest architectural loss.
Kimball House Hotel
Occupying nearly an entire block, the 357-room hotel was actually Kimball House No. 2, replacing its smaller predecessor, which burned down in 1883. Considered at one time to be the finest hotel in the South, it was demolished during 1950s urban renewal in favor of a parking deck (still standing in Five Points).
The city once had several gilded “movie palaces.” Many know the Loew’s Grand (demolished in 1978), which hosted the 1939 Gone with the Wind premiere. But the adjacent Italian Renaissance Paramount Theater (the Howard Theater until 1929) was just as lavish. The site is now a plaza by the Georgia-Pacific building downtown.
Greyhound Bus Terminal
Like most midcentury Greyhound stations across the country, the two-story structure echoed the Streamline Moderne style of the company’s buses with a blue-and-white facade and rounded corners. It eventually fell victim to John Portman’s expanding AmericasMart.
Atlanta Cabana Motel
Built by the casino mogul who later developed Caesars Palace, Atlanta’s first “motor hotel” was a slice of Miami Beach kitsch on Peachtree Street, with acres of tile work and mirrors, rococo statues, and a Rat Pack-y vibe. It had devolved to budget hotel status when it was finally torn down for the Spire condos.
Hightower Textile Engineering Building
Architects still mourn the loss of this Georgia Tech classroom building, one of the city’s finest examples of the Bauhaus-influenced International style that did away with ornamentation in favor of functionalism and utility. Tech razed it for a new building and greenspace.