By Ann Boutwell

March 2, 1908: The Palmer House apartments fronting Peachtree Place are placed on the rental market by B. M. Grant & Co. In May 1907, owner Sidney H. Phelan commissioned the architectural firm of Norrman & Faulkner to design a five-story twin tower luxury apartment building. The Southern Ferro-Concrete Company constructed the site advertised as the “the only fireproof apartment house in the city.” Phelan named the building after his late wife, Palmer Graham Phelan. The Palmer House was designated as an Atlanta Landmark by the city in 1992.

March 8, 1978: National Women’s History Month roots began in Sonoma, California with a single week celebration. The event focused on teaching women’s history in the school curriculums. In February 1980, President Jimmy Carter officially declared March 8-15 as National Women’s History Week in the United States. His presidential message encouraged the recognition of women’s historic accomplishments. The celebration expanded in 1987 to the full month of March. nwhp.org

March 9, 1854: Oakland Cemetery’s first sexton, Green A. Pilgrim, placed an advertisement in the Atlanta Intelligencer newspaper saying that he could be found at all times on Mrs. Ogilsby lot, located on the corner of Hunter (now Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive) and Pryor streets. The South Carolina native born in 1804 came to Atlanta in 1843. During his 19 years of continuous service, he is said to have buried 30,000 people. He was a member of St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church and a member of the Atlanta Pioneer Society. Pilgrim died at his daughter’s home on Boulevard in the Fourth Ward. He is buried at Oakland Cemetery.

March 12, 1928: The Wofford Oil Company of Georgia opened its newest Woco-Pep service station on the corner of 12th and Peachtree streets. Car owners living on Atlanta’s northside –Peachtree Road and Ansley Park – found the location very convenient. President Wiley Moore said that in the company’s network of 56 stations this one was the first to be lighted at night with floodlights. Last year, the Loews Atlanta Hotel opened on the site.

March 14, 1940: Margaret Mitchell returned a gracious thank you, but no thank you to David O. Selznick’s for offering her his Oscar for producing the film Gone With the Wind. Mitchell received a telegram from Selznick that read: “Without your great book there would have been no award and I shall take the liberty of forwarding to you the award for the production Gone With the Wind as soon as I get it properly inscribed.” Mitchell replied: “You are amazingly generous in offer to send me the trophy, but I could not think of accepting it. The award was not for the novel writing but for movie-making, so the trophy’s proper place is with you.”

March 22, 1996: Georgia State University welcomed the public to a tour of its remodeled $14 million, 833-seat Rialto Center for the Performing Arts, located in the Fairlie-Poplar District in Downtown. The following evening, Maureen McGovern with the Rialto Pops Orchestra conducted by Charles Sayre officially opened GSU’s new performing arts center. The site’s footprints date to an earlier structure called the Piedmont Theater, which opened April 3, 1916. By December 1916, Piedmont’s management had introduced vaudeville and renamed the theater the Rialto. In July 1928, Warner Brothers’ Lights of New York, the first all-talking picture opened at a midnight matinee. The old Rialto was demolished in 1962. Atlanta architectural firm Finch, Alexander, Barnes, Rothschild and Paschal designed a new structure on the old site with 1,200 seats, it opened as the new Rialto with the film Bye Bye Birdie in 1963. It declined over the next two decades and closed February 1989. In 1991, Director of GSU’s School of Music, Dr. Richard Koehler, saw the theater’s potential as an urban magnet for both the university and Atlanta. He initiated a fund raising in the fall of 1994 and the Rialto is now one of the city’s premiere venues for concerts, art and more. rialtocenter.org

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.