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St. Mark United Methodist ChurchDesignated: Landmark Building Exterior
October 23, 1989

781 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Fronting 210' on the east side of Peachtree St. at the southeast corner of the intersection of Fifth and Peachtree Streets
District 14, Land Lot 49
Fulton County, City of Atlanta
Existing Zoning C-4


Constructed: Church (1902-1903)
Chapel Addition (1947)
Education Building (1957)
Architect: Willis F. Denny, (chapel additions: Francis P. Smith)

St. Mark United Methodist Church is a rectangular-shaped granite building with Gothic detailing located on the southeast corner of Peachtree and Fifth Streets. The church, chapel, and education buildings form a U-shape with a courtyard in the center that serves as a playground for the dayschool children. A paved parking lot occupies the east side of the church property.

St. Mark is significant for its architecture, fine stained glass windows, and history.

THE CHURCH COMPLEX

St. Mark is constructed of Stone Mountain granite. The main facade that fronts on Peachtree Street has a triple entrance portal beneath a large lancet-arched window and front gable. The heavy wood doors are original to the building. The left corner of the facade is dominated by a tall bell tower with lancet-arched windows and openings, wall buttresses, and steeple. The right corner of the main facade has a narrow, polygonal-shaped tower and spire. The north and south facades have a cross gable with rose window, six lancet-arched windows, and wall buttresses. The northeast corner of the rear of the building has a polygonal tower with spire.

The church is one of three extant churches designed by noted Atlanta architect Willis F. Denny (1874-1905). The other two churches, also constructed with Stone Mountain granite, are Inman Park Methodist (1897) and First Methodist (1903). Mr. Denny designed several residences in Inman Park and was associated with Morgan and Dillon in the design of the Healey Building.

The Chapel and its connecting corridor were added to the church in 1947. It was designed by Atlanta architect Francis P. Smith and is also constructed of Stone Mountain granite.

Francis Palmer Smith (1886-1971) was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Architecture in 1907. From 1910-1922, he was a professor and head of the Architecture School at Georgia Tech. From 1922 until 1934, he was associated with the firm of Pringle & Smith and from 1934 worked as Francis P. Smith. Other structures by Smith include the W. W. Orr Doctors' Building and the Mikel Chapel at the Cathedral of St. Philip.

THE WINDOWS

The four rose windows in the sanctuary, two windows in the cloak room under the northwest tower, and the three lancet-arched stained-glass windows above sets of double doors between the narthex and the sanctuary are representative works of American opalescent glass. The twelve pictorial stained-glass windows on the north and south walls were installed between 1909 and 1959. The windows were designed and made by Franz Mayer and Company of Munich, Germany. The windows were made with the pot-metal glass technique that was used during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. This technique allows for greater luminosity and clarity of colors, as well as complexity of shapes and sizes of glass pieces and detail in the leadwork. Four windows were installed in 1909, one in 1928, and one in 1932. The remaining six windows were made in Germany and were installed in 1956, 1957, and 1959. The themes of the windows are based on the life of Christ.

HISTORY

According to the official history of the church,

The history of St. Mark United Methodist Church parallels in many respects the modern history of the City of Atlanta, and the story of the church's growth is intertwined with that of the city's expansion.

In 1872 the First Methodist Church, located at Walton and Forsyth, opened a mission in a house located on the east side of Peachtree Street just north of what is now Eighth Street. This area, beyond the city limits, was called "Tight Squeeze." Notorious since the Civil War as a haven for cutthroats and thieves, the stretch of Peachtree between present-day Eighth and Twelfth Streets originally looped around a thirty-foot ravine that ran east from present-day Crescent Avenue down toward Piedmont Avenue. It got its name from the saying that it was a "tight squeeze getting through there with your life."

This first mission was called "Peachtree Street Mission" or the "City Mission." A frame church was erected and the mission relocated to Merritts Avenue, which runs between Peachtree and Courtland Streets. Several dates have been given for the move, but 1875 seems to be widely accepted. The new church was called the Sixth Methodist Church (1875-86) and later renamed the Merritts Avenue Methodist Church (1886-98).

The area chosen for the mission was sparsely populated and hard to reach. The membership declined and it was eventually decided that the church should move back into the city.

The site chosen for the new church was located on Peachtree Street in the midst of fine residences. The cornerstone for the present building was laid on 22 October 1902. Bishop Warren Candler spoke at the ceremony. The church was renamed St. Mark.

The city grew to, and beyond, St. Mark. Today the church is surrounded by high rises, hotels, and apartment buildings; but the church remains to serve the intown communities.

REFERENCES

Frahan, Mani. "Historic Property Information Form St. Mark United Methodist Church." 1985.

Wiggins, Robert S. The History of St. Mark (1872-1986), 1986.

chtree Street, Atlanta. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1962.

CRITERIA
(criteria descriptions)

Group I (1) (2) (3)
Group II (1) (3) (6) (7) (9) (10) (11)
Group III (1) (2) (3)

FINDINGS

The proposed nomination of St. Mark United Methodist Church meets the above-referenced criteria for a Landmark Building or Site as set out in Section 16-20.004 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta.

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Contact Info
City of Atlanta
Atlanta Urban Design Commission
(AUDC)
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 3400
Atlanta, Georgia 30335-0331

Tel: 404.330.6200
Fax: 404.658.6734

Doug Young
dyoung@atlantaga.gov

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Last updated: 6/11/2013 1:00:56 PM