Big Bethel AMC
Big Bethel AME

By Ann Taylor Boutwell

Aug. 9, 1986: Henry James Furlow, also known as “Satan” from 1933 to 1983 in Auburn Avenue’s Big Bethel AME Church’s allegory Heaven Bound, died at Hughes Spalding Medical Center. He was 85. The Atlanta University graduate was a former teacher of social science at the Old Fourth Ward’s David T. Howard High School. Florine Dyer Furlow, his devoted wife, said, “He’s smiling with the other saints of Heaven Bound.” Heaven Bound, the classic story of erring human beings struggling to reach the Pearly Gates, is still performed today. Performance dates for 2014 production are Nov. 7 – 8.

Aug. 12, 1883: The Kimball House Hotel on Pryor Street in Downtown was destroyed by fire. The 13-story, six-story hotel was considered one of the finest in the South. A night watchman spotted flames emerging from an elevator shaft and the fire spread quickly. Guests in the 317 rooms were evacuated, but Robert H. Richards, president of the Kennesaw Mill Company and director of the Atlanta National Bank, insisted on rescuing his personal belongings. While the fire raged around him in his second-story suite, he tossed furniture, clothing and other valuables through the windows to the sidewalk below, where his wife and spectators moved them to safety. He barely escaped the flames. The fire’s cause was from a cigar carelessly tossed in the hotel basement.

Aug. 17, 1908: Second Ward Councilman L. Preston “Press” Huddleston introduced an ordinance concerning the closing of gates at Oakland Cemetery. The ordinance came about after a recent unearthing of an 1876 law requiring all cemetery gates but one be closed. Huddleston’s ordinance to repeal the old law was referred to the cemetery commission, but in the meantime the 1876 law went into effect. In 1908, Oakland had five gates, but only the main gate at Hunter Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Drive) was left open. Atlanta’s wives and mothers were indignant over the closure of the gates and threatened to band together and tear them down. The 1876 ordinance was repealed and the gates reopened.

Original poster for The Wizard of Oz, 1939

Aug. 18, 1939: The first Atlanta screening of The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland and directed by Victor Fleming was at 11 a.m. in the Loew’s Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street. Four months later, Fleming’s Gone With the Wind would premiere at Lowe’s on Dec. 15.

Aug. 23, 1965: The Atlanta Crackers played their last game in the Atlanta Fulton County Stadium before the Braves franchise arrived from Milwaukee.

Aug. 28, 1963: Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington by 250,000 civil rights’ supporters.

Aug. 30 1987: At 11:15 a.m. hundreds of onlookers watched helicopter pilot Larry Pravecek position the 19-foot high, 7,800-pound, gold-leafed steeple on top of the IBM Tower (now known as One Atlantic Center) at 1201 West Peachtree Street in Midtown. The 50-story, neo-Gothic tower designed by New York architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee was then the tallest building in Atlanta from 1987 to 1992, when Bank of America Plaza took the crown.

Historian Ann Taylor Boutwell is a docent at the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. Contact 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.