Despite demolition threats and preservation disputes in recent years, the beloved circa 1901 Excelsior Mill / Masquerade still stands on North Avenue across the street from the old Sears building.
|Top photo: January 1989 Bottom photo: January 2012|
In January 1989 it was still known as the Excelsior Mill Restaurant & Bar. They served really good pizza and had a small movie theater there. In the late '80s it morphed into a night club with live music. ( The bands on the marquee are Mary My Hope, Rumble Circus, and the Shadow Puppets.) I took this photo after hearing rumors they might be closing. Sure enough, they were soon out of business and within months reopened as The Masquerade, a tri-level club showcasing punk, metal, and goth bands. In 2004, the property was sold to a developer who soon announced his intention to demolish the old mill and replace it with just what we need... MORE CONDOS! After months of neighborhood protests and a campaign by the Atlanta Preservation Center to raise awareness of the historic value of the site, a deal was reached and the building was saved. The vantage point of these two photos is now a sidewalk in the new Historic Fourth Ward Park. The menacing gothic atmosphere has certainly been neutered by the surrounding sod, bike racks, and cutesy bushes.
The Masquerade complex was originally the Du Pree (or Dupre) Manufacturing Company and produced excelsior, wood shavings that were essentially the late 19th century equivalent of modern foam packing peanuts. I've never found an accurate construction date. Various articles in the AJC have mentioned 1905, 1892 and 1890 while the Atlanta Preservation Center pins the date circa 1901. The site appears vacant on the 1892 Birdseye View of Atlanta illustration but the complex is shown on this 1911 Sanborn Insurance map.
It's probably obvious to anyone who has read more than one of my posts that I find these nearly century old "Birdseye View Of Atlanta" maps endlessly fascinating. In this 1919 view, the mill can be seen at right. Following the railroad to the left from the mill, you'll find the Ford factory, the bridge over Ponce, and the Atlanta Crackers baseball park.
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