The Farlinger/Frances Hotel (343 Peachtree Street)

I have passed SunTrust Plaza many times on my walks to and from Downtown Atlanta. The 60-story building is Atlanta’s second tallest, so it tends to demand your attention.

When walking I overlook verticals and focus on the horizon, like most people, to avoid stumbling into traffic or crashing into my fellow pedestrians. SunTrust Plaza doesn’t disappoint from the the ground either. The greenspace and courtyard sculptures at 343 Peachtree Street are a welcomed break in the concrete jungle as you’re leaving downtown.

Ground broke on the office building, greenery, statues, and fountains at SunTrust Plaza in 1989 and was completed in 1992. However, in order to make way for the new, Atlanta lost a building that was only a decade away from celebrating its centennial. That building was the Farlinger.

Built in 1898, the building gets its name from the original owner, Alex W. Farlinger. As Atlanta’s first large scale retail grocer, Farlinger envisioned “the model grocery store in the United States” for the lower level of the Farlinger. Above the grocery would be three floors of “French flats”, each with its own bath.

Alex W. Farlinger (c. 1900)

The architect, George W. Laine, would create Atlanta’s first apartment house in the Farlinger. Built at a cost of $42,000, the building would also become the first multi-use building in the city. In addition to the grocery store on the lower level, the first floor included a reception room for the wealthy female patrons. Inside the reception area, ladies could write letters, play the grand piano, or sip a cup of tea while clerks filled their orders. The Farlinger also included a fancy fourth-floor restaurant and an elaborate rooftop garden.

postcard image of Frances Hotel (c. 1950s)

The building was sold for $125,000 in 1910 and remained apartment for about the next 20 years. By 1931, the Farlinger was converted to the Frances Hotel. The 51-room hotel thrived for decades, but as time moved on, so did the upscale patrons. The once thriving central business district saw residents and customers flocking to the suburbs.

view of Frances Hotel along Peachtree Street (1978)

By the late-70s, strip clubs and peep shows became prominent on the block. Prostitution and homelessness became commonplace in the area. The Frances Hotel now catered to extended stay guests with rooms going for $9.72 per night and $55 per week in 1984.

Intersection of Peachtree Street and Peachtree Center Avenue (1985)

Atlanta preservationists fought to keep the Farlinger from demolition by adding the building to the National Register of Historic Places. Even so, the addition of the building to the prestigious list did not guarantee safety from the wrecking ball.

traveling south of Peachtree Street (1985)

By the mid 80s, the Farlinger had become an abandoned building and “a haven for the homeless”. With a non-working sprinkler system, a 1988 fire sealed the fate of the four-story icon and the building was razed the same year.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Peachtree Art Theatre (1137 Peachtree Street)

Peachtree Art Theatre (1948)

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.

Roma Lounge, Cine Showcase, unknown florist (1981)

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.

Campanile Plaza

Sources: Cinema Treasures, New York Times, Tulsa World. Photos from Georgia State University and Viracon.