Rita Hayworth, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall… they were all big stars in 1946, the year the Peachtree Art Theatre opened in Atlanta. However, it was three years later when another star, Atlanta’s most popular resident, would be killed while crossing the street to watch a movie at the theater.
On Thursday, August 11, 1949, Margaret Mitchell and her husband were on their way to see A Canterbury Tale when she was struck by a speeding motorist. Her injuries included a fractured skull “from the top of her head to the top of the spine,” and two pelvis fractures. The famed Gone with the Wind author would not regained consciousness and died the five days later at Grady Hospital.
Hugh Gravitt, an off-duty taxi driver, was charged with drunken driving, speeding and driving on the wrong side of the street. Although Gravitt denied he was intoxicated, he would go on to be convicted of involuntary manslaughter and serve 10 years in prison for the death of the Pulitzer Prize winning author.
The Peachtree Art Theatre closed its doors in 1971.
The building at 1037 Peachtree Street would continue to house movie theaters and other business for the 15 or so years until it was razed to make room for Campanile Plaza. The 20-story office building was completed in 1987.