Designated: Landmark Building Exterior
68 Mitchell Street, S. W.
Atlanta City Hall is located in the government center area of Atlanta. The site is adjacent to the Georgia State Capitol and state government offices on the east and to the Fulton County Government Complex and Courthouse on the west. An article written in 1929 called the "towering structure" a "symbol of Atlanta's growth as a Metropolitan center." Its tower is visible from the south expressways and from the financial and business districts to the north.
Atlanta City Hall was erected between September 1928 and February 1930. An $8 million bond issue was approved by voters in 1926, $1 million of which was for the new city hall, the fourth in the city's history. In February of 1930, the City of Atlanta moved its records and offices to the new City Hall. (This structure served as Atlanta's City Hall until March of 1989 when the new 55 Trinity building opened and the 1930 building was closed for a major renovation.) The Office of Mayor, Council Chambers, and many other city departments and agencies have occupied this building and many historic events have taken place there: Mayor William B. Hartsfield championed the open-school policy and called upon the legislature to allow Atlanta to desegregate its schools without state intervention; Mayor Ivan Allen, Jr. launched the "Forward Atlanta" program upon his election in 1961; and Maynard Jackson became the first black mayor of any southern city since Reconstruction.
Atlanta has had three City Halls prior to the current one. The first City Hall was located directly across the street from the present site (1855-1882), on the current site of the Georgia State Capitol. The land was part of the extensive holdings of early developer Richard Peters, and the site was part of "Peter's Reserve", later known as "City Hall Lot". The first building, a two-story, wood frame, Federalist-styled structure topped by a two-story cupola, was designed by Columbus Hughes and served as combination City Hall and County Courthouse. The second City Hall was at Pryor St. and M.L. King, Jr. Drive in a building owned and occupied by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce (1882-1911). This building also served as a Masonic Lodge meeting hall. The third City Hall was located in the "old" Post Office and Custom House at Marietta and Forsyth Streets (1911-1930).
The land on which the current City Hall stands originally belonged to John S. Neal, a wealthy planter-merchant who moved to Atlanta from Zebulon, Ga. in December, 1859 and bought the land from Richard F. Lyon for $2,000. During the Civil War, shortly before the Atlanta campaign, Neal sold the property back to Lyon and moved back to Zebulon. Lyon could not take immediate possession so Neal rented the house to a Girl's Seminary. General William T. Sherman used this house as his headquarters while he occupied Atlanta, and surprisingly spared the house and furnishings from destruction. After the War, Neal repurchased the house but never again occupied it. It became home to Oglethorpe College for a year (1871-1872), then Girls High School for some fifty years. Boys High School was also briefly housed in this structure. The house was vacant from 1925 to 1928, when it was demolished to make way for the new City Hall.
Atlanta City Hall was designed by G. Lloyd Preacher, a prominent local architect, who moved to Atlanta from Augusta in 1922 to head a large firm with offices in Atlanta and Florida. He designed many buildings in Atlanta and throughout the southeast. Among the buildings he designed in Atlanta are the Winecoff Hotel, the Wynne-Claughton (Carnegie) Building, the Pershing Point Apartments/Hotel, the Medical Arts Building, and the McGlawn-Bowan (Standard) Building.
Atlanta City Hall is an office tower of eleven stories above a three story rectangular base. Embodying the principle of setback architecture, the shaft of the tower tapers upward to an observatory from the broad base. A shallow pyramid roof is hidden by tracery, which is positioned like battlements on the various other levels of the building. A porch and cathedral-like entranceway of Gothic arches and tracery beckons visitors inside. Whenever possible, materials made in Georgia were used in the construction. Cream colored terra cotta tiles cover the entire building with the exception of the vertical piers above the windows where an olive green terra cotta in an ornate design creates an interesting contrast. The windows are metal framed, multi-paned casement windows. White Georgia marble is used on the balustrade and entrance on the Mitchell Street side. Plans outlined by architect G. Lloyd Preacher called for "reinforced concrete construction with a granite base and terra cotta superstructure".
The City Hall Annex which faces Trinity Avenue was completed in March of 1989. The architects, Paul Muldawer and Jova/Daniels/Busby, have created a contemporary structure that is compatible with the historic City Hall building. Materials and detailing reflect the earlier structure as well as the massing and scale.
Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine. 9/4/27, p. 11; 6/23/29, p. 4.
Atlanta Journal. 7/15/28, p. 2; 10/15/31, p. 6; 5/4/30, p. 2; 4/5/23.
Atlanta Constitution. 5/16/1896, p.11.
The City Builder. Mar. 1930, p. 8(cover); Dec. 1930, p. 3; Mar. 1928, p. 3; Apr. 1929, p. 25.
Southern Architect. Vol. 57, #3, 1930, p. 10; Vol. 54, #7, 1928, p. 60; Vol. 56, #11, 1930, p. 27.
Garrett, Franklin. Atlanta and Environs, vol. II, p. 873.
Tupper, Atlanta, p. 155.
Group I (1) (3)
FINDINGSThe proposed nomination of Atlanta City Hall 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.