A Look Back: This month in Atlanta history

seal1By Ann Taylor Boutwell

March 1, 1990: Atlanta’s Harwell Road Elementary School, located in Collier Heights, changed its name at the beginning of the 1989-90-session to Usher Middle School. It honored one of Atlanta’s and Georgia’s most respected female educators – Bazoline Estelle Usher (1885-1992).  During her 50 years as a professional educator, she rose through the ranks of the public school system to be supervisor of black education initiating seven new elementary schools. Once when asked she said that training teachers was what she liked best. At the age of 106, she passed Feb. 8, 1992. Her interment was at Southview Cemetery. On March 13, 2014, Usher will be inducted at the 23rd annual ceremony at Macon’s Wesleyan College as a Georgia Woman of Achievement.

March 3, 1854: Mayor William M. Butt commissioned jeweler Er Lawshe to create Atlanta’s first official city seal (pictured at right). Depicting a steam railway locomotive within a circle, it appeared on the title page of Atlanta’s first city directory published in 1859.

Olivia de Havilland as Melanie in Gone With the Wind.
Olivia de Havilland as Melanie in Gone With the Wind.

March 3, 1943: Mary Large Moore completed a three-day institute on radio broadcasting and public speaking as part of the Atlanta Junior League’s  educational program.  The Atlanta native, a Vassar College graduate, was known for her professionalism. She was the first voice for Southern Bell’s telephone time and temperature service. In 1939, she was the local broadcast announcer for the Gone With the Wind movie premiere. During World War II, she read local newspapers over the radio because paper was scarce and there weren’t enough to newspapers to go around.  By 1950, Mary had her own television show called “The Mary Moore Show.” That year she was also the League’s president. Moore’s community accomplishments focused on the Atlanta Speech School and a docent program at the Atlanta Historical Society’s Swan House. At her death in November 1996, her family requested that the Atlanta Speech School be the recipient of donations.

March 9, 1961: The Georgia Civil War Centennial Commission commemorated the conflict with a costume ball at the Atlanta Biltmore Hotel. Georgia Gov. Samuel Ernest Vandiver was the official host and grand marshal.  Actresses Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland attended the anniversary premiere celebration of Gone With the Wind the following evening at the Loew’s Grand Theater on Peachtree Street.

March 12, 1925: Davison-Paxon merged with R.H. Macy and Company of New York. On March 21, 1927, the new store opened on Peachtree in the handsome $6 million building designed by Starrett and Van Vleck of New York and Hentz, Reid, and Adler of Atlanta. The landmark site next door to the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel is now an events and office facility.

March 15, 1911: The Atlanta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution met at the Carnegie Library on Forsyth Street. An important item on the agenda was the opening reception at the Atlanta Chapter’s new Cragie House at 1240 Piedmont in May. For 74 years, it served the Atlanta Chapter until 1985 when it suffered tree-fall damage. The Georgia Trust placed it on its 2011 list of Places in Peril. On Feb. 12, 2014, part of the house collapsed during the ice storm. The current owner, Bert Sanders, hopes to save the front Piedmont Avenue façade in his new home.

March 22, 1934: The first Masters Golf Tournament was held in Augusta. Beginning in 1940, the tournament’s schedule changed to the first week of April. Horton Smith won that first tournament.

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

 

1 Comment
  1. I didn’t know that Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland attended that function at the Biltmore in 1961! Fascinating–thank you, Ann!

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