Herb Bridges
Herb Bridges

By Ann Taylor Boutwell

Nov. 1, 1926: Paramount’s now lost, silent film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby opened at Atlanta’s old Rialto Theater, originally called the Piedmont. Directed by Herbert Brenon, the 80-minute film starred Warren Baxter as Gatsby and Neil Hamilton as Nick Caraway. Gatsby recently received a reboot with Leonardo DeCaprio as the star, while the Rialto continues to thrive as a performing arts center owned by Georgia State University.

Nov. 15, 1893: Booker T. Washington, president of Alabama’s Tuskegee Institute, spoke at the DeGive opera house at Marietta and Forsyth streets in Downtown during the International Christian Workers Convention. Later in his 1901 autobiography Up From Slavery, Washington wrote: “My invitation to speak in Atlanta stipulated that I was to confine my address to five minutes. The question, then, was whether or not I could put enough into a five–minute address to make it worthwhile for me to make such a trip.” He realized it was a great opportunity to talk about Tuskegee and race relations before an Atlanta audience of Southern and Northern whites, so made a long trip by train to Atlanta between speaking engagements in Boston.

Sumner building in Midtown

Nov. 15, 1999: Gone With the Wind aficionado and memorabilia collection Herb Bridges, pictured at left, signed his latest book, Gone With the Wind: the Three Day Movie Premiere in Atlanta, at the Margaret Mitchell House in Midtown. On Sept. 24, 2013, Bridges, 83, passed away. The late lifelong Sharpsburg resident studied history at the University of Georgia, served in the Army in Korea, taught school in Warm Springs and Thomaston and become a rural mail carrier in Coweta County. But Bridges was known the world over as the man with the largest GWTW memorabilia collection, not to mention the most knowledge about the book and film.

Nov. 18, 1909: The Sumner, a new three-story, twelve-unit apartment building at 106-108 Juniper Street opened for occupancy. The site, owned by Lillian Pauline Spalding Lewis, was directly behind the family residence at 647 Peachtree St., south of St. Mark’s Methodist Church. She named the building for her late husband, Thomas Sumner Lewis, a Massachusetts native who had established a well-known wholesale cracker manufacturer company in Downtown. She hired the architectural firm of Edwards & Walter to design the luxury abode. When completed, Lillian and her daughter, Margaret, settled into #11 on the third floor. The Sumner Condo building stands today at 754 Juniper Street in the center of a landscaped courtyard with trees, flowers, grass, shrubbery and fountain.

Nov. 29, 1912: On the Friday after Thanksgiving, the headline in the McClure Ten-Cent Company’s display ads read Old Santa Has Arrived At McClure’s. Illinois native Charles Wylie McClure opened Atlanta’s first dime store in September 1896 at 73 Whitehall Street. By 1902, it relocated to 63 Whitehall on the Hunter Street corner. In 1910, when the Five and Ten Cent merchants gathered in Cincinnati to organization an association, McClure was elected as the first president.

Ann Taylor Boutwell is an Atlanta historian, tour guide and docent at the Margaret Mitchell House & Museum. Email her at annboutwell@bellsouth.net.

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.