ZAHNERBy Ann Boutwell

May 1, 1935: The Zahner Building at the northwest corner of Peachtree and 10th streets (now the site of the Federal Reserve Bank) was the site of the Play-Guild’s first theatrical production – three, one-act plays. The theater company had a performance space on the third floor, but the red brick also became home to Richards & Smith grocery and drug store and a quirky mix of tenants: answering services, architects, artists, ballet/dance schools, broadcasting school, cemetery sales, dentists, dressmakers, financial consultants, home repairs, insurance agents, law school, manufacturing agents, real estate agents,  tax services, and theatrical ticket agents. The popular Vietnamese Cha Gio restaurant was one of the Zahner’s last ground floor tenants as shown in the image. The building was torn down in 1987.

May 6, 1912: Eugene Muse Mitchell applied to the city for a permit to build a two-story frame residential dwelling at 1149 Peachtree St. (later, 1401), just north of 17th Street. Estimated cost of the 12-room structure was $9,162, to be constructed by Winkle & McHugh of East Point.  The family – Eugene, May Belle, Stephens, and Margaret – moved in September 14, 1912.  The 1401 Office Building is the current site of the old Mitchell home, demolished in 1953. A plaque outside mark’s the spot as the childhood home of the Gone With the Wind author.

May 6, 2003: The Coca-Cola sign returned to Peachtree Street after 23 years. Gov. Sonny Perdue and Coca-Cola Company Chairman and Chief Executive Doug Daft unveiled the new Coke sign near Five Points in Downtown. Because of rainy weather the event moved inside the City Grill in the historic Hurt Building. When the weather cleared the sign atop the Olympia called the “Neon Spectacular” was lit. About 200 people, including Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, attended the ceremony.

May 12, 1866: Atlanta’s first official competitive baseball game began promptly at 2 p.m., west of Oakland Cemetery on old Hunter Street (Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive). Most people walked to the ballpark, but wealthier, more fashionable folks drove out in carriages. The contest was between the Atlanta Baseball Club, organized by Wall Street Ice House owner Captain Tom Burnett, and the Gate City Nine team headed up by Captain Robert Dohme, later a well known grocer. The final score was 127 to 29, an overwhelming victory for the Gate City Nine. J.A. Taylor’s drug store displayed the trophy in his storefront window at Peachtree and Decatur streets.

May 18, 1986: Singer and actress Lena Horne received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Spelman College at a ceremony at the Atlanta Civic Center. She urged the 298 graduates to use their education and energy to change the system. Two months later Ms. Horne’s 48-year-old daughter Gail Lumet Buckley published The Hornes, An American Family, noting the family’s Atlanta connections. Horne’s Grandmother Cora C. Calhoun received her diploma from Atlanta University in 1881 and once lived on Decatur Street. Her cousins, the Antoine Graves, family once lived at 522 Auburn Ave., now in the Martin Luther King, Jr. Historic District. Horne died May 9, 2010 at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center at age 92.

May 22, 1917: The day following Atlanta’s Great Fire of 1917, Southern Bell Telephone Company set up an emergency telephone hotline: “Just tell the central operator ‘Red Cross’ and she will connect you,” noted the Atlanta Constitution.  The general clearinghouse was Atlanta’s Municipal Auditorium on Courtland Street, opened by the Red Cross. The disaster caused $5 million in damage and left 10,000 homeless. It wiped out 1,938 dwellings and apartments; 42 businesses; 351 garages and outhouses; 8 miscellaneous occupancies, including churches, and warehouses. Although one woman from fright died of a heart attack, remarkably no one perished in the flames.

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.