A Look Back: This month in history

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Farlinger Apartments

June 2, 1879: When Mermaid, a two-year-old registered Jersey cow arrived in Atlanta, her owner, Henry Seltzer, had a grazing issue. Since 1867, the German crockery dealer had a reputation for financial discretion. He constructed a three-story brick building, at 16 North Broad Street, located between Marietta and Walton streets. It served as shop, storage and family residence, but no greenspace for the cow. Buying four acres of Richard Peters’ land was the solution. It encompassed today’s Peachtree, Sixth, Seventh and Juniper streets. Locals later labeled it Seltzer’s block, usually mocking the owner’s paying $2,500 just to graze a cow. Seltzer reacted with a knowing grin, based on the conviction that both cow and pasture were sound investments. Mermaid died about 1884, and in June, 1885, Seltzer’s unexpected death followed. In 1889, Leak & Lyle auctioneers sold the old Seltzer block at $81,000. Located in today’s Midtown, the site is now home to the Viewpoint and rising 100 6th Street buildings.

June 14, 1928: Atlanta Shriners, their families, and dignitaries gathered on the northwest corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce DeLeon Avenue for the laying of the cornerstone for the Yaarab Temple of the Mystic Shrine. It was the most important new structure to be built in 1928-1929. Designed by Marye, Alger and Vinour architectural firm and built by C.A.D. Bayley Construction Company. In January, the New York Times announced that The Fox Corporation had inked a $3 million, 21-year lease arrangement with Atlanta’s Yaarab Temple. The Fox Theater opened 18 months later on Christmas Day, 1929.

June 15, 1989: Refurbished Underground Atlanta officially opened with a $142 million new look.

June 17, 1951: Josephine Baker canceled her June 30th appearance at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, after three white Atlanta hotels refused her accommodations. She had agreed to come under the stipulation that she would not appear before a segregated audience and that she and her troupe, made up of both black and white performers, must have accommodations in one of the city’s leading hotels. The City of Atlanta quietly agreed not to insist on segregation in the rented Municipal Auditorium. At that time, any white hotel that granted accommodations to blacks was liable to revocation of its innkeeper’s license.

June 24, 1898:
Hundreds turned out to view the new luxury Farlinger Apartments (pictured above)  at 325-327 Peachtree Street, adjacent to Sacred Heart’s Catholic Church. In the lower-level gourmet grocery, strains of Wurm’s popular orchestra echoed as host Alexander W. Farlinger enticed his guests to sample a connoisseur’s assortment of teas, coffees, and desserts. The four-story red brick building, trimmed in granite, was designed by architect George W Laine. In 1910, William H. McKenzie, president of the Atlanta Fertilizer Works, bought the building for $125,000  and renamed the apartments The Frances, after his wife. By 1931, the building had been transformed into a small hotel.  In 1982, city preservationists were urging a National Register of Historic Places designation, but a fire in 1988 eliminated that possibility. The Atlanta Fire Department reports showed that the vacant building had become a homeless haven and the sprinkler system had been turned off for years. Today, Elbert Weinberg’s sculpture, Rites of Spring, stands on the site of the building in front of what is now Sun Trust Plaza.

June 30, 1913: Over 400 attended the opening of the Ansley Hotel. Seated at the elaborate dinner in the banquet hall were Governor and Mrs. John Marshall Slaton and retiring Former Governor and Mrs. Joseph Mackey Brown. The hotel was named for Edwin P. Ansley, developer of Ansley Park.

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