Candler Building

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Candler BuildingDesignated: Landmark Building Exterior
October 23, 1989

127 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Fronting 140.9' on the east side of Peachtree St. at the southeast corner of the intersection of Houston and Peachtree Streets
District 14, Land Lot 78
Fulton County, City of Atlanta
Existing Zoning SPI-1

Constructed: 1904-1906
Architects: George Murphy and George Stewart ; Sculptor: F.B. Miles

The Candler Building's location on a high elevation of the Peachtree ridge contributes to the building's importance as a prominent landmark. Peachtree swings west, giving the Candler Building a center spot on the Peachtree axis in all views looking south from Peachtree Center. In addition, the creation of Woodruff Park in the 1970s increased the visibility of the building from the south. The site is bounded on the west by Peachtree Street, on the east by Park Place, and on the north by Houston Street. The building overlooks Woodruff Park to the south. Built on property originally owned by the First Methodist Church, the site of the Candler Building was once the location of Atlanta's old Wesley Chapel, "a primitive structure of roughly hewn logs," the first public house of worship erected in the city. At the turn of the century, the lot was acquired by the Candler Investment Company.

An excellent example of the early twentieth century approach to developing a "building as a monument," the Candler Building is significant in the field of architecture for its sense of completeness as a business structure, and in the field of art and sculpture for its elaborateness of detail. The structure and its detailing reflect the ideas of its developer, Asa G. Candler, the prominent Atlanta businessman and philanthropist who founded the Coca-Cola empire.

THE CANDLER BUILDING

Standing 17 stories high, the Candler Building, sheathed in snow-white Amicolola marble from north Georgia, was one of Atlanta's most luxurious high rise buildings. Its luxuriousness is well-exhibited on the exterior of the building, which in a manner typical of the era in which it was built, is divided into three distinct parts: a two-story base, a twelve-story shaft, and a three-story capital with large overhanging cornice.

The base of the Candler Building contains three entrances, one on each of the streets which defines the building site. The original entrance on the Houston Street side was the largest and most elaborate of the three entryways and was designed to give access to the "Central Bank and Trust Corporation" which occupied a large room on the north front of the structure. This entrance was initially built as a portico of two stories, achieved by placing a pair of Corinthian columns in antis between two broad, ornate pilasters that were flush with the facade of the building, and recessing the two-story wall containing the doors to the banking hall so as to create a sheltered area; the side walls were canted in to connect the pilasters to the entrance wall. Bronzed store-front doors were later used to enclose this space and were set in a glass wall placed just behind the two Corinthian columns; there is no longer any recess in the facade at this point. The frieze above the columns once contained the name of the bank, but at present, the name has been removed, due to a change in bank name. Less classical in approach, but definitely more ornate, is the Peachtree Street entrance. Here a full arch resting on two caryatid-supported brackets are set between two ornate pilasters. Decorative sculpture abounds on this building and the Peachtree Street entrance is no less typical: the keystone of the arch contains a bust of an unknown person while the spaces to the side of the arch are infilled with two reclining female figures; facing Peachtree and at right angles to the Herms can also be found two lions' heads, each placed approximately at the center of the flanking pilasters.

On the facade of the Candler Building, between the first and second floors of the base, can be found numerous carved panels which illustrate the liberal arts and sciences. Beginning at the southeast corner of the building, on Pryor Street, and moving north toward Houston Street, these panels represent: Architecture, posed by H.C. Hunt of New York; Sculpture, copied from a bust by Michelangelo; Art, copied from a bust by Raphael; Literature and Drama, represented by Shakespeare; Music, represented by a bust of Wagner; and ornate panels representing Natural History and Agriculture. The panel on the Houston Street corner represents "Military Glory" and was posed by Admiral Dewey, the hero of Manilla Bay. On the Houston Street facade there are only two panels and these represent the pioneer life of the early settlers. From one panel peers the face of Father Marquette, the priest-explorer, and from the other, the well-known "Buffalo Bill" Cody. On the Peachtree facade, beginning at Houston Street, are represented Statesmanship and Philosophy, copied from a bust of Benjamin Franklin; the "Power of Steam," represented by Ericsson; Agriculture, represented by a bust of Cyrus McCormick, inventor of the self-binding reaper; Music, represented by Beethoven; Art, copied from a bust of Abby; Literature, copied from a bust of Scott; Sculpture, represented by a bust of Ward; and Astronomy, from a bust of Hirschel.

The shaft of the Candler Building is divided into three parts, in a very subtle way, and in comparison to the base and capital is much less ornate. A string-course separates the fourth and fifth floors and the thirteenth and fourteenth floors; the latter string-course is less pronounced than the first, and the reason for this separation of floors is not immediately obvious. All of the windows on the shaft and elsewhere (with the exception of the storefront windows on the base) are of the 1/1 variety. Within the shaft, the windows are almost always set in pairs with nine bays on the Peachtree facade, nine bays plus a row of 1/1 windows on the Park Place facade. The Houston Street facade, however, has a slightly different arrangement: a row of paired 1/1 windows run through the fourteenth floor at each of the corners of the building while in between in a slightly projected facade-break, are three windows: one 1/1 single window at each edge of the break and in the center a much wider 1/1 window. Each of these three center windows has a decoratively carved panel beneath its sill. On the Peachtree and Park Place facades, these decorative panels are found only under the windows on the second, third, fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth bays, starting with the first bay on the corner of Pryor and Houston.

The capital of the Candler Building consists of the three uppermost stories and the highly elaborate cornice, which crowns the building. The windows on the fifteenth and sixteenth floors are of the same 1/1 variety of double hung wood frame windows as used throughout other portions of the building. The seventeenth (top) floor windows, however, are all round-arch on the top and all of the windows in this upper third of the building follow the same spacing within bays as the floors below them. The cornice is heavy but proportional to the height of the building and is supported on elaborately carved brackets. According to an early photograph published at the time of the opening of the building, the cornice also had acroterians, and set back on the roof was a tall flagstaff.

Construction of the magnificent Candler Building began on January 26, 1904 when the contract for foundation excavation was closed. Soon, however, the foundation work proved to be more difficult than first imagined. Shortly after the work was begun, it was discovered that the site was underlaid with solid granite, requiring nearly six months to remove.

The construction of the Candler building is unique in that the construction work was not let by general contract. As an example, in awarding the contract for the structural steel and ironwork for the building, no detailed plans were prepared by the architect for the bidders. Instead, each hopeful contractor was furnished only with a general layout of the building and was required to submit his own plans for the work, along with his bid, to the architect, Murphy. The American Bridge Company of New York was the successful bidder for the steel and iron contract and, after having their plans approved, began the erection of the Candler Building's mammoth steel skeleton on July 1, 1904. By mid-January 1905, over 3,000 tons of structural steel and iron, said to be twice the quantity used in almost any other building in the southeastern United States, had been put into place, with all of it resting on a solid granite foundation embedded in concrete. Even for the day, many of the structural elements used in the erection of the Candler Building were considerable. To illustrate this, one needs only to to look over the Houston Street entrance to the banking rooms where there can be found two immense plate girders, each weighing approximately 17 tons.

Marble, selected from the quarries of the Atlanta Marble Company, at Ball Ground, in Cherokee County, Georgia, was selected for use in the Candler Building personally by both Asa Candler and architect George Murphy. The first shipment of this material, which was used in both the interior and the exterior of the building, left the quarries on July 5, 1904, and on December 20, 1905 the cornerstone of the snow-white building was laid. Within the cornerstone was placed "a Bible, copies of the regular issues of several of Atlanta's daily newspapers and other appropriate souvenirs," including a portrait of Asa Candler and a bottle of Coca-Cola. By January 4, 1906, the building was sufficiently complete to permit the opening of the Peachtree Street entrance to the public.

Great care was taken in the design of the seventeen-story Candler Building and even the smallest details were given much thought before being approved; this building was to be as much a monument to a man, Asa G. Candler, as it was to be a commercial structure and, as such, no expense was spared in making it the most luxurious high rise building in the area. The white marble edifice featured special floors designed for use by doctors, dentists, and surgeons; a banking hall; six passenger elevators which were "at all times under the charge of a thoroughly competent engineer;" a barbershop; and what were said to be the "finest baths in America," located in the first basement of the building. Duplicate air-cooling and electric systems were installed to reduce the chance of a total systems failure, and a building-wide "vacuum air-cleaning device" was installed by the American Cleaning Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Undoubtedly one of the finest high rise structures in the Central Business District of Atlanta, the Candler Building is an outstanding example of the art of early twentieth century architecture. The deliberate monumentality, which even impressed observers during its construction in 1905, was incorporated into this building not solely for making this structure an architectural work of art, but to create a testament to Asa Candler, "which would be a monument that would last for centuries." The size and prominent location of the building, the magnificent sculpture executed by craftsmen under the direction of F.B. Miles, and a total, well-conceived design all add to the significance of this building. Without a doubt, it can be placed high on the list of outstanding buildings in terms of its fulfillment of function and practicality, and must be considered one of the most functionally complete high rise buildings extant.

GEORGE E. MURPHY

George E. Murphy, architect and builder, was born in Oxford County, Maine, in 1850. He came to Atlanta where he worked as a superintendent of construction. In 1887, he moved to Rome, Georgia, but returned to Atlanta in 1895. For many years he worked exclusively for Asa. G. Candler. His work includes the Candler home in Druid Hills. Mr. Murphy died in 1926 and is buried at Westview Cemetery.

ASA GRIGGS CANDLER, SR.

Originally from Carroll County, Georgia, Asa G. Candler came to Atlanta in 1873. His work as a wholesale druggist led to his acquaintance with the original developer of the Coca-Cola formula, Dr. Pemberton, and the druggists who sold the drink. In 1888, Candler, Woolford Walker, and Dr. Joseph Jacobs organized a corporation to take over Coca-Cola. Over a three year period Candler bought out the other interests for a total cash outlay of $2,300. His solid merchandizing ability made Coke a successful product. The Candler family sold the Coca-Cola Company in 1919.

His Coca-Cola-based fortune enabled Candler to pursue interests in real estate, banking, politics, and the Methodist Church. Asa Candler originally lived in Inman Park where, in 1898, he donated land to the Inman Park Methodist Church. In 1908, he participated in the Syndicate that bought the holdings of the Kirkwood Land Company. At the time, it was said to be the largest real estate transaction ever made in the southern states. The purchased land included the subdivision of Druid Hills, where Candler moved in 1916, the year he became mayor of Atlanta.

In 1906, Candler organized a bank to occupy the lobby floor of his new skyscraper. The Central Bank and Trust Company was in operation sixteen years before merging with the C& S Bank in 1922. His bank was involved in cotton ventures that led in 1915 to the construction of the Candler Warehouse.

With his younger brother, Bishop Warren Candler, Asa Candler founded the Wesley Memorial Enterprises. This organization was instrumental in establishing Wesley Memorial Church, the Wesley Memorial Hospital (later Emory), and Emory University in Atlanta. It is conservatively estimated that by his death in 1929, Candler had transferred to the University assets worth over six million dollars. Asa G. Candler, Sr. died in 1929 and was buried in Westview Cemetery.

REFERENCES

Dunagan, H. Lee, National Register of Historic Places Inventory Information Form, 1977.

Lyon, Elizabeth. Business Buildings in Atlanta 1865-1930: A Study in Urban Growth and Form, Emory University, 1970.

CRITERIA
(criteria descriptions)

Group I (1) (2)
Group II (1) (2) (3) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11)
Group III (1) (2) (3)

FINDINGS

The proposed nomination of the Candler Building 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.

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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