Georgia Hall (Original Grady Hospital)

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Georgia Hall (Original Grady Hospital)Designated: Landmark Building Exterior
October 23, 1989

36 Butler Street, S.E.
Fronting approx. 50' on the east side of Butler Street at the southeast corner of the intersection of Butler Street and Coca-Cola Place
District 14, Land Lot 52
Fulton County, City of Atlanta
Existing Zoning SP1-1

Constructed: 1890-92
Architects: Gardner, Pyne and Gardner

The original Grady Memorial Hospital was located in an area that contained, for the most part, residential structures. A primary consideration for the selection of the site was undoubtedly the close proximity of the Atlanta Medical College.

The Medical College, established by Dr. J. G. Westmoreland, was chartered by the legislature on February 14, 1854 and the first lectures were held in City Hall. However, by June 21, 1855, a large brick building had been constructed on the northwest corner of Butler and Armstrong Streets. Maps from 1871 show the structure surrounded by residences and undeveloped land.

By 1892, the Grady Hospital building appears on a birdseye map. To the west and to the north, along Edgewood Avenue, a few commercial structures have appeared. In later years both the medical facilities and commercial structures expanded. Hospital records reflect the purchase by the city of the remaining residences on the block in 1912.

Patients were transported to the hospital by a rubber wheeled, horse drawn ambulance. It was in 1911 that the hospital purchased its first motorized ambulance from the White Motor Company. The development of the Edgewood Street Railway by Joel Hurt made the hospital more accessible to patients and visitors as did the much later development of the adjacent expressway system. Many patients walked to the clinics from the neighborhoods located in the Old Fourth Ward to the north.


It is difficult to conceive of a time when Atlanta had only one private hospital of any substantial size (St. Joseph's Infirmary, founded 1880), no municipal hospital, and no adequate facility that would treat the city's indigent citizens. Henry Woodfin Grady, the great spokesman for the "New South," had long advocated the establishment of a municipal hospital.

The establishment of the hospital partially resulted from a movement that began when the Atlanta Benevolent Home was turned over to a board of trustees in 1881. Shortly thereafter, the board met to decide its dissolution in order to secure "a wider field for doing good." Any new facility was to remain free of religious affiliation. In 1884 the board met to prepare for the sale of the home and to join the movement for a city supported hospital. A lawsuit later arose over closing the home, which in 1887 lacked funds to even open. By early 1890, all parties agreed to deed the Atlanta Benevolent Home property to the city so that it could be sold to support the hospital effort.

Following Henry Grady's death in December of 1889, Councilman Joseph Hirsch introduced a resolution to the Atlanta City Council providing for the establishment of a hospital in commemoration of Grady. The Council appropriated $30,000 and appointed Mr. Hirsch to head a committee to secure the rest of the funds. By mid-September of 1890, a lot on Butler Street was bought and graded. The approximately four acre lot was purchased from Col. L. P. Grant, who had previously given the city the 100 acres of land for Grant Park in 1882. The price was $13,500, but upon hearing the purpose for the purchase, Col. Grant returned $1,000 as a contribution to the new hospital.

On December 23, 1890, the cornerstone was laid with "impressive" Masonic ceremonies, a Zouave band, and an address by Mayor John T. Glenn. The Board of Trustees headed by Joseph Hirsch and the Building Committee chaired by Capt. J. W. English had selected Gardner, Pyne and Gardner as the architects. On May 25, 1892, the building was dedicated and on June 1, 1892, the first patients arrived.

Once established, Grady Hospital continually expanded. By 1912, when the second Grady Hospital (Butler Hall) was constructed, the hospital owned all of the block except a small parcel facing Armstrong Street. Two wards for male and female white patients, two wards for male and female black patients, a children's ward, a maternity ward, a laundry and kitchen had been constructed. All were connected by a series of extended corridors. A small morgue and a nurses' home were also located on the property.

The first Grady Hospital maintained separate black and white wards, but with the advent of Jim Crow laws after the turn of the century, separate hospital structures were built. At the time that the second Grady Hospital was constructed in 1912, a separate black hospital was established on the site of the old Atlanta Medical College at Armstrong and Butler. That first black hospital, an imposing brick edifice, has unfortunately been demolished.

There were four distinct periods in the administration and funding of Grady Hospital. The institution was under the authority of a lay Board of Trustees from 1892 to 1921. During this period, the hospital was funded by the city and relied heavily on private fundraising and bequests from concerned citizens for its expansion programs. Between 1921 and 1931, the facility was under a politically appointed Council committee, whose members were subject to annual replacement. Local revenues remained the only source of official funding for the facility during this era. The third period of administration was marked by the re-establishment of a citizens' Board of Trustees in 1931. Federal funds were available to the hospital for the first time during this period. In 1945 the Fulton/DeKalb Hospital Authority assumed the active management of all municipal hospital facilities. The counties now using the facilities have assumed a portion of the expense for running Grady.

An important highlight in the history of the hospital was the establishment of the Grady Hospital Training School for Nurses. Chartered on March 25, 1898, the school was the first of its kind in the state. Grady has also been for years the principle teaching hospital of the Emory University School of Medicine. More recently, it has also become the teaching hospital for the Morehouse School of Medicine. Medical progress at Grady was marked by the introduction of new technology and therapeutics soon after their acceptance by the American medical community. Among the innovations adopted by Grady were the x-ray machine, diet therapy following discoveries in nutrition research, safe blood transfusions after the perfecting of blood typing, sulfa drugs, and the establishment of a blood bank.


Henry Grady, a native of Athens, Georgia, moved to Atlanta in 1872 from Rome where he was editor of the Rome Daily newspaper. He became the editor and part owner (with Alexander St. Clair-Abrams and Robert A. Alston) of the Atlanta Daily Herald. This paper, the rival of the Atlanta Constitution, lasted for four years. It was in a March 14, 1874 editorial in the Herald that Grady first used the term "New South".

A charming and perceptive man, as well as a great orator, Grady went on to become the legendary editor of the Atlanta Constitution (1879-1889). He was an outstanding reporter who promoted harmony between the North and South and encouraged industrialization and economic independence for the South. He was a great sports fan who did more than anyone else in the region to establish Southern baseball on a popular basis. He established the philosophy and direction that the City of Atlanta has followed since the days of Reconstruction. Grady died at the age of 39 on December 23, 1889, over one hundred years ago.


When Grady Hospital was built in 1890-92, it was a connected series of buildings. The pavilion plan of hospital architecture was utilized with subsequent additions of separate wards of wood frame construction being connected to the rear of the main building by enclosed corridors. This type of plan was first utilized in 1860 for the design of Philadelphia's Presbyterian Hospital and was in use until the 1920s, when large, multi-storied medical centers became the accepted model. Although described by the architect as being in the "Italianate Style," the design shows the influence of the Romanesque style. The original brick and frame wards, out-buildings and the one-eighth mile of connecting corridors were demolished (c. 1959) to make way for a parking lot. The main building, however, is still in use, and except for two major changes, the exterior remains intact. Grady Hospital (Georgia Hall) is significant as a good local example of the Richardson Romanesque style. The hallmarks of this style, as seen in this building, include its massive scale, the round arches over the windows, doors, and porches, and the straightforward use of stone and brick as building materials. Another important detail is the treatment of the corners, which are made of the construction material and not applied to the surface. A further important element is the frieze on the front or entrance portico, which has "The Grady Hospital" in a floral motif and appears inspired by the architect, Louis Sullivan.

Built of brick in the stretcher-bond pattern, the three-story building rests on a basement of solid granite, which rises five feet above ground. Its details of granite and brickwork, the variation of rectangular and arched openings, the recession of second and third-floor windows above the first-floor extended portico, and the five-story tower add architectural interest to what could have been a plain, functional building.

The main facade, facing west onto Butler Street, has a one-story portico flanked by a set of paired windows and a set of tiered windows; each set divided by oak, engaged columns with Georgian Ionic cusps. The original transom windows have been replaced by double-hung windows with large lights of glass without muntin bars; the window pattern is repeated on the second floor.

Above the portico are the recessed center windows of the second and third floors. Granite brackets above the second floor bring the third-floor balcony of open brickwork flush with the facade. The third floor has four continuous round arch windows on either side of the large arched balcony, which was screened in around 1959.

Top lintels of all the windows are of brick, and the sills are granite. The granite sill of the second- floor windows continues as a string course around the parameter of the building.

The granite-faced large round arch of the entry portico is detailed with an egg and art molding and carved keystone. An ornately carved frieze with the name of the hospital in front, runs around the three sides of the portico, and is topped by a concrete balustrade, which repeats the design of the third-floor balcony. The design of this entry minus the granite frieze was repeated in the ambulance porte-cochere (now gone) on the south side of the building.

The removal of the porte-cochere (c. 1913-14) to make way for a new six-story hospital building, was the second major structural change. To connect the two buildings, an enclosed corridor entered the old building at the site of the west windows in the small emergency room wing. Two balusters on the southwest and the southeast corners of this wing and the arched-doorway (now blocked up) remain from the original building.

The first major structural change occurred (c. 1903-04) with the addition of a new operating room attached to the original operating room at the northeast corner of the building. The scars resulting from the alterations to accommodate this addition, as well as those showing the attachment of the original corridors, can be seen on the east facade. On the north side of the building, facing onto Coco-Cola Place, is the tower, which repeats the rounded arches of the third-floor front facade. Pragmatic, as well as of architectural interest, the enclosed fourth level houses an emergency water tank, which remains. The open fifth level with its balustraded, arched openings housed the emergency bell. The bell was replaced (c. 1900) by chimes, the console of which is now in an attic storage place. The balustrade was later removed (c. 1932).

The first-floor bow window on the north side marks the location of the original operating room. The glass roof has been replaced. The windows cut into the basement level were done during a renovation project (c. 1958-9).

The pyramidal hipped roof, marked by a large double window dormer in the center of the main facade and four tall ornate brick chimneys, was originally surfaced with slate. Hip and valley flashings were of metal. Ridge cap flashings were also of metal in an ornate saw-tooth pattern that ended in a volute or scroll over each hip. The roof underwent extensive repair between 1932 and 1938, which culminated in the removal of the original tower cornice and balustrade. The original cornice remained on the main building but was covered with plywood. In 1976 the cornice again required extensive repair and a restoration program was undertaken. A research program was also undertaken, and it was decided that the cornice should be replaced with one of the original design. Many of the wooden false beams used in this replacement are original.

The landscaping consists of a level lawn with foundation plantings. Mature trees at either side of the front walk are the result of deliberate landscaping efforts.


Georgia Hall has architectural significance as the only known Georgia building designed by Eugene C. Gardner (1836-1915) of Springfield, Massachusetts. Having settled in Springfield after the Civil War, Gardner was an independent architect for twenty-five years. Then, in 1889, he took his son, George C., and George Pyne into partnership. It was under the name of Gardner, Pyne and Gardner that they were operating when Eugene Gardner came to Atlanta for his health and was thus solicited to design this hospital. He appears in the Atlanta City Directories only for 1889- 1891, inclusive.

Gardner is described as "Springfield's best known and most influential architect during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries" and "one of the last of the important pattern book authors." He published eight books, five of which dealt with domestic architecture--Homes and How to Make Them (1874), Illustrated Homes (1875), Home Interiors (1878), The House That Jill Built (1882), Homes and All About Them (1885); and three on specified structures--Common Sense in Church Building (1880), Farm Architecture, Houses and Barns (1882), and Town and Country School Buildings (1888). He also contributed to several publications for the betterment of Springfield: Springfield Art Association: Practical Reasons for Its Existence (n.d.) and Springfield Present and Prospective (1905).

Gardner's career began as a school teacher and as a mason. His earliest domestic structures were noted for their masonry ornamented brick and stonework, all of which he used in Grady Hospital. He was also involved in the creation of subdivisions. He varied his work, being noted both for a cemetery, chapel and a knitting company mill, as well as the Springfield Hospital in 1889. It was said that by the 1890s, he had designed buildings in nearly every state. Gardner's early career showed the influence of John Ruskin, a mid-nineteenth century English critic and theorist who promoted medieval art. But Gardner showed he was not limited by any style. as his works include Richardsonian Romanesque, Queen Anne, Shingle, Venetian Gothic, and Victorian Eclectic styles, all prevalent during his career. He was a firm believer that residential architecture should be tailormade or custom-designed to the specific needs and wants of the owner and always encouraged design freedom and experimentation.


Atlanta Journal and Constitution Magazine, March 8, 1914, pg. 7.

Birds Eye View of Atlanta, 1892.

Birds Eye View of Atlanta, 1871.

City Builder, Vol 9, #2, April. 1924, pg. 30.

Garrett, Franklin. Atlanta and Environs, 1954.

The Grady News, January 1967, Special Edition honoring the 75th Anniversary. Grady Hospital, Mss. 429, Atlanta Historical Society.

Granberry, Allen C. "Grady Memorial Hospital: The First Fifty Years, 1892-1942." M.A. Thesis, Georgia State University, 1989.

Grinnell, David A. and Renny Price. Draft National Register Nomination and additional research.

Handlin, David P. The American Home. 1979.

Hopkins, C. M. "City Atlas of Atlanta, Georgia," 1878.

The Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia, Vol. 29. no. 3. "Early Medical History of Georgia and Savannah Hospitals." March 1940.

Sanborn Maps, Atlanta Historical Society

(criteria descriptions)

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


The proposed nomination of Georgia 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.

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City of Atlanta
Atlanta Urban Design Commission
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 3400
Atlanta, Georgia 30335-0331

Tel: 404.330.6200
Fax: 404.658.6734

Doug Young


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