Saturday, January 28, 2012

Before Historic Fourth Ward Park : Kelly's Seed & Feed Theatre

Top photo: January 1989 
Bottom photo: January 2012

In the 1980s I was intrigued by this forlorn industrial building with the Hee-Haw feed store paint job and psychedelic lettering. It seemed destined for demolition so I took this photo on a dreary January day in 1989. Amazingly, the building stood for almost another 20 years until it was demolished to make way for the new Historic Fourth Ward Park. The site of the park, adjacent to the old Southern Railway "Decatur Belt", had primarily served as an industrial area since the late 1800s. Most of the industries had moved out by the 1970s and a few of the properties were converted into restaurants, night clubs, and live theaters. This particular building was located on North Angier Ave. between Dallas and Morgan Streets just south of the Sears Building and Excelsior Mill / Masquerade. It was once a bottling plant for May's Beverages and in the late 1970's became the home of Kelly's Seed & Feed Theatre, which presented live stage shows. The theatre closed in the mid 1980s and, judging from the sign, subsequently saw use as a body shop. It was abandoned when I took the photo in 1989.

Here are a couple of photos of the Seed & Feed Theatre from the Georgia State University Library Digital Collections . The title of this first one reads "Steve Lindsley, Tom Cullen, and John Wittemore on the roof of Kelly's Seed & Feed Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia, 1979?"

The caption for this one is "Three Magi, from "The Play of Herod", Kelly's Seed & Feed Theatre, Atlanta, November 1983."

This is the view facing north on N. Angiers on beautiful autumn day in 1997. The May's Beverages sign was still clearly visible decades after the bottling plant closed. The same view in January 2012: the industrial area has been replaced by the Historic Fourth Ward Park. Ironically, when I returned on a strangely warm 70° January day, the place was more lifeless and deserted than ever.

I found this interesting history about May's Beverages over at May's Beverages-Atlanta May's Bottling Company, 544 North Angier Avenue N. E. Atlanta, was a division of American Associated Companies Incorporated. May's originally was a bottler of Mil-Kay, Bireley's & Topp Cola in Atlanta, and was in business from around 1932 to 1972. In 1962/3 decision was made to change name to May's Beverages-Atlanta, May's Bottling Company, at which time they switched to primary bottling of "May's chocolate flavored drink", the bottling division was discontinued in 1972. They had a United States Patent for the unique way of pasteurization they used in the bottling of their chocolate drink. 

Google Map of this spot:

View Larger Map


  1. I love the grungy side of Atlanta, and I agree with your comment about the warehouse scene having more life than the park scene. Ultimately, I think more park space will go a long way toward turning Atlanta back into the city I know it can be.

  2. I agree that Atlanta is moving in the right direction although the rust-belt funkiness of the 80s and 90s was a lot of fun to explore. I was shocked to find the new park completely empty. When I took these photos last week, I was the only person there.

  3. In the late 1990's that space was used for an after hours club...with no A?C, it didn't last sure was an interesting place.

  4. I moved to Atlanta in 1975, and saw many changes before I left in 1993, Looking at that Google map reminds me of my old stomping grounds, but I'm not sure I could navigate there anymore.

  5. Seems to me it was more "historic" when it was the Seed and Feed than yet another soul-less park! Interestingly enough, Steve Lindsley, pictured in the 1979 photo, is the person who hired me when I worked at the High Museum in 1989. One of the people I worked with was Kelly Morris, he being the "Kelly" of the Seed and Feed. I think the band still exists.

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  7. When the location was used as a bottling works, the returnable bottles were brought in and sorted in a building on the left-hand side of the street (facing south). From there they were put in cases and travelled on the bridge across the street to the building on the right-hand side to be washed and filled. In my mind's eye I can still see the cases of Bireley's bottles moving across the bridge! Bruce Reed, Seattle