Monday, February 27, 2012

19th Century Industrial, 21st Century Sports

After taking photos around Cabbagetown on a beautiful January day in 1990, I spotted this interesting old warehouse at the intersection of Connally Street and MLK and snapped this photo through the windshield while at the stop sign. This was directly across MLK from what is now the City Limit Cafe and diagonally across the intersection from the now demolished Capitol Homes housing project.

Coincidentally, flickr photographer Amber Rhea took this photo from the same spot over 15 years later in October 2005. The warehouse had been demolished but the water tower, smokestack, and adjacent Atlanta Paper Company building were all still standing. It looked like this building might eventually be converted into lofts, but...

When I returned in February 2012 I was greeted by one of the most spectacularly dreadful street views I've seen yet, seemingly custom made for one of James Kunstler's many anti-Atlanta rants. Who comes up with this stuff?

What is over, beyond, and behind the wall? Well, if you just happen to be riding in a crane or helicopter you'll find this surreal scene. The former warehouse and industrial site is now the Georgia State University practice field. This photo and many others of the new sports complex can be found in this AJC gallery.

What was here in the 1800s? The smokestack and portion of the warehouse that bordered the railroad are shown on the 1892 birds eye view of Atlanta. Interestingly, Connally Street ended one block south of where it ends today.

Here's the 1919 view:

In this 1961 photo, courtesy of the Atlanta History Center, the area was dominated by the Capitol Homes public housing project. I-20 is under construction in the foreground. The old cylindrical water tower can be seen at the top right corner of the projects, below Grady Hospital.

The old warehouses that occupied the site of the Georgia State University practice field are at the very bottom of this 1963 view.

A cool birds eye view from Bing Maps, probably from around 2008-2009. At top left, Capitol Homes have been demolished and cleared.

And finally, circa 2010, the end is nigh!

Directions to this spot:

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  1. For a few months between demolition of most of the structure and installation of the field, the site was home to a (makeshift?) skate park. It looked like something from a movie about urban youth: half pipes and rubble nestled in among ragged brick walls. The football field is nice too, though.

  2. There was a film shoot for a week or two inside the building just before the GSU takeover. I never found out what movie it was, but with any luck there are cool interior shots.

    Can anyone tell me what the Corey building/stack functioned as? It's one piece of trivia I have yet to uncover.

  3. It should be noted the Georgia State went to significant lengths to renovate the existing building in front of the warehouse that they now use as their locker rooms, meeting rooms, etc. The original beams and brickwork can still be seen both on the interior and exterior.

    It's a whole lot better than what was there before. Letting old buildings fall part just for the sake of keeping them is ignorant.

  4. As a GSU grad and Football season ticket holder, I may be impartial. But, I have to agree with Anonymous. Letting places go to rubble is not the way to go. I've been able to tour the facility and it is one of the coolest blends of old and new. The exposed brick and beams are still there. The physical therapy room looks almost untouched with just work tables spread across the floor with the backdrop of the old buildign surrounding. GSU did a great job with it. This is a great article too. Looks like you put a ton of background work into the chronical of the site. Nice work and THANKS!

  5. I've not seen the interior, so I'll take the positive comments at face value. However, Georgia State did a horrible job with that wall at the sidewalk, and the facade of the building was in good shape before they covered it. I don't know if the stack could have been saved -- it was torn down by the prior owner, I think -- but it too was in good shape.

  6. I am just now seeing this post. Thanks for using my photo! Yours looks slightly different, although it is obviously the same building... is it just the slightly different angle? It looks like the building has metal siding which I didn't see, and in my photo had windows where yours didn't? I really miss that building... I am working on my Master's in historic preservation at GSU and hate to see Atlanta demolish historic buildings that could be reused!

    1. Never mind, I just re-read your post and see the clarification! Makes sense now.

  7. Earlier Anonymous - the Corey stack (not Corey anymore) was part of an old Georgia Power plant.