Designated: Historic Building Exterior
355 Peachtree Street, N.E.
Constructed: 1910-191 1
National Register listed: 1981
The Imperial Hotel is located at the intersection of three busy thoroughfares, Peachtree Street, Peachtree Center Boulevard (formerly Ivy Street) and Ralph McGill Boulevard (formerly Forrest Avenue), with the hotel facing Peachtree Street. At the turn of the century though, this location was considered to be the outermost limits of the city. By 1910, when construction of the hotel first began, the northern expansion of the city was taking place along the major corridor of Peachtree Street, first residentially and then commercially. Aided by the trolley, but more significantly by the automobile, the Imperial's location was convenient to the shopping, theatre, and business districts. The Imperial Hotel and the Farlinger Apartments (constructed 1898, demolished 1988) were among the first commercial endeavors in the area.
The Imperial Hotel was conceived and built as a moderately-priced hotel for businessmen, conventioneers, and tourists with rates starting at $1.50 for a single and $5.00 for a double. The Official Guide to Atlanta (c. 1926) indicated that 56 of the 119 rooms had private baths. During the 1920s and 1930s, the Imperial Hotel was considered a leading Atlanta Hotel according to the City Builder. In the 1940s, the Imperial Hotel first provided accommodations for the road crew of the Metropolitan Opera, and continued to do so for the next forty years.
Following a renovation of the basement level and the Peachtree facade in the 1950s, the hotel became the site of Joe Dale's Cellar Restaurant, which remains one of Atlanta's most popular restaurants, although it has subsequently moved to various other locations. In the early 1960s, the Imperial's Domino Lounge first appeared in the the City Directory. The lounge, housed in a two story concrete block addition at the street level of the north facade, featured such acts as Little Richard and Fats Domino.
The design of the Imperial Hotel never included the ballrooms and suites of the city's grand hotels, such as the Biltmore and the Georgian Terrace. The other Atlanta hotels, similar to the Imperial in concept, the Piedmont, the Ansley and the Henry Grady, have been demolished.
THE IMPERIAL HOTEL
On July 13, 1910, the Imperial Hotel Company was issued permit number 2487 for an eight-story fireproof hotel to be located at what was then 339 Peachtree Street and to be built at an approximate cost of $100,000. The same construction and stylistic techniques being utilized by the architects of Atlanta's downtown skyscrapers were used by the architect for the project, Edward E. Dougherty. Steel studs rather than wood constituted the internal skeletal frame. Concrete was also used for the framing system and represents an early and innovative use of this material, which made its first appearance in the construction industry during the first decade of the twentieth century. In addition, the hotel is noteworthy as a good early example of fireproof construction, which also began to appear in Atlanta hotels at the turn of the century. The fireproof quality was made possible by the extensive use of concrete, brick, terra cotta, stone, tile and plaster. Elevators provided an additional modern convenience to the hotel's patrons. The Otis elevators are original to the building.
Stylistically, the Imperial Hotel represents a variation on the Chicago style, which was being used during the first era of skyscraper construction in Atlanta. This style is reflected in the hotel's slender profile and bay windows. The hotel's tall and narrow front facade is divided into a tri- partite vertical composition consisting of a projecting first floor for the base, which was originally an arcade, a simply-detailed shaft, and a more elaborate crown. The crown includes the eighth floor, which is decorated with brickwork in geometric and herringbone patterns and inlaid with terra cotta. A corbelled brick cornice and parapet is also ornamented with terra cotta. Both side facades are articulated with bay windows composed of wood sash and sheet metal bays. These bay windows, which extend as continuous projections from the second to the eighth floors, alternate with regular flush windows to create a visually interesting effect on the north and south facades. Small iron balconies at the third and eighth floor windows decorate the Peachtree facade. Despite the changes to the building over the years, the Imperial Hotel remains as one of the few remaining tall buildings designed as a variation of the Chicago style during the initial phase of skyscraper construction in Atlanta.
Edward Emmett Dougherty was born in Atlanta in 1876. After graduating from the University of Georgia in 1895, Mr. Dougherty went on to Cornell University and the Ecole de Beaux Arts. Mr. Dougherty's commissions included buildings in Atlanta, Nashville and other southern cities and he was particularly noted as a designer of churches. In 1918 Mr. Dougherty moved his office to Nashville and practiced under the firm names of Dougherty and Gardner as well as Dougherty, Wallace and Clemmons. Mr. Dougherty died in 1943.
The Official Guide to Atlanta (circa 1926).
City Builder, various issues. 1925-1929.
Building Permit #2487, City of Atlanta.
Imperial Hotel National Register of Historic Places Property Information Form, 1982.
E.E. Dougherty biographical information on file at Atlanta Urban Design Commission.
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 D. "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.
Group I (1) (2) (3)
The proposed nomination of the Imperial Hotel meets the above-referenced criteria for an Historic Building or Site as set out in Section 16-20.004 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta.