Sunday, December 23, 2012

"Gone With the Wind" Burned Here

The Della-Manta Apartments (now the One South Prado condominiums) in Atlanta's historic Ansley Park neighborhood were designed by celebrated Atlanta architect Neel Reed and constructed in 1920.  This vintage apartment house was the home of "Gone With The Wind" author Margaret Mitchell from 1939 until her death in 1949. 

There are two buildings, the main building and an annex, and several entrances.  The Della-Manta or One South Prado contains 22 apartments, most 2 bedroom, 2 bath, but some larger.

The building is stately and traditional with few decorations.

This is the entrance on the Piedmont Avenue side of the building.

The building's original name remains visible above the entrance.

A realtor who was leaving the building as I shot these pictures told me this first floor 3-bedroom unit is the apartment Margaret Mitchell lived in.  I wonder if every unit that comes up for sale is marketed with the line "Margaret Mitchell lived here."

The apartment the realtor pointed out to me wraps around the building with multiple exposures.

Whether that really is the apartment where Mitchell lived, there's no question she made her home in this historic building for ten years.  A plaque on the building tells the story.  Her secretary and the building custodian burned the manuscript for "Gone With The Wind" in the boiler room after a car hit and killed Mitchell on Peachtree Street in 1939.  She and her husband were on the way to a movie.

This entrance on the South Prado side leads to the annex building which originally contained servants' quarters. 

Elsewhere in the building, many styles of windows enhance the appearance of this classic apartment house.

Atlanta's hilly topography is on full display here.  The building is perched on a ridge above the road.  Be prepared to walk up a flight of stairs, no matter which entrance you choose.

The building is located in midtown Atlanta within walking distance of many interesting places.

The Atlanta Botanical Gardens and Piedmont Park are right across Piedmont Avenue.

Architect Neel Reid was considered Atlanta's premier residential architect for many years; there was (and is) prestige in owning a Reid-designed home.  He died at the young age of 41, but left a legacy with memorable homes and buildings such as the Della-Manta Apartments.

The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An Art Moderne Exception

I call this apartment house an exception because an Art Moderne building in a neighborhood packed with Mediterranean Revivals is exactly that.  2951 Lydia Street is also very striking.  This type of architecture was common in the 1930s and '40s. My guess is that this eight apartment building at the corner of Lydia Street and Willow Branch Avenue in Jacksonville's historic Riverside dates to the 1940s.

Many of the common elements of Art Moderne buildings show up here.  Glass blocks frame the entrance doors.

Glass block can be found elsewhere on the facade along with horizontal grooves, another hallmark of the style.

The round port-hole windows on the Lydia Street side of the building are absent on the Willow Branch Avenue elevation. 

Another Art Moderne feature: windows that wrap around the corners.  The originals were almost certainly metal casement windows, which have a cleaner, crisper appearance.  However, the replacement windows are an indication that the building is well cared for. 

The Willow Branch Avenue side of the apartment house is asymmetrical, and, as noted above, does not feature the round windows. 

It does have this, tucked away in the corner...

A rounded balcony and planter sets off the right angle turn in the building.

A wrought-iron railing follows the curve of the balcony.  You can see the door with jalousie windows that leads to one of the apartments.  These windows were popular in Florida in the 1940s and '50s.

I found some interior shots of the building in a recent on-line advertisement for apartments for rent.  It appears the kitchens have the original cabinetry.  The eight apartments are two-bedroom units.

In this view of a bathroom you can see the porthole window.
I found it difficult to get a picture that shows the entire building to its full advantage on the corner of Lydia and Willow Branch Avenue.  A big oak tree puts most of the side on the right in shadows.  A more skilled photographer could figure this out.  But you get the idea.

The building is in a nice location.  Willow Branch Park is across the street.  The King Street shopping district is just a few blocks away and the St. Johns River is an easy walk.

There are a few Art Moderne buildings in the Riverside and Avondale historic districts, but they are vastly outnumbered by the more common Mediterranean Revivals and more traditional turn of the century buildings.  They stand out for this reason, and by their own virtues.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Charron

Here's a nice building that makes me happy enough to go around the block to take another look.  It's the Charron, a Mediterranean Revival style building that likely dates from the 1920's.

The name is visible over the entrance as you approach the building in the historic Riverside neighborhood.   The Charron, 2016-18 Herschel Street, Jacksonville, Florida.

This little building has simple, but elegant features...

...and an eye-catching lion's head centered over its name.

There are four one-bedroom apartments, each 900 square feet.  The building was renovated in 2003.  According to the owner, the apartments feature vintage elements such as original hardwood floors and unique built-in banquettes in the kitchen with under seat storage.  Here's a peak inside the front door.

The building is not heavily decorated.  There is brick trim around the windows...

Up top, a shaped parapet sets off the front of the building.

Here's another vintage feature that is seen in many similar buildings in the neighborhood-- window boxes.  As you can see from the Poinsettias, the building was decorated for Christmas when I took this picture last year.

Each of the units has a garage in the back of the building.  There is also a garage apartment.

Some of the simplest buildings are the most pleasing.  This one definitely works for me.

The Charron is just around the corner from the center of the 5-Points shopping district and may stores and restaurants.  Memorial Park and the St. Johns River are a pleasant two-block walk away.

Friday, September 28, 2012

The John Gorrie: Homes from School

They don't build schools like this anymore...or homes either, for that matter, which is what the historic John Gorrie Junior High School has become.

John Gorrie Junior High School on College Avenue at the corner of Stockton Street in Jacksonville's historic Riverside neighborhood opened in 1923 and educated students until 1997.  The Mediterranean Revival building was the work of the Jacksonville team of Roy A. Benjamin and Mellen Greeley.  The men worked together for six years.  Kirby Smith Junior High in Springfield is a duplicate of John Gorrie. 

Cast stone columns, brackets and shields provide elaborate showcasing around the school's entrance.  The beautiful detailing may not made it fun to go to school, but surely it made the kids feel like they were entering a place of importance! 

Huge windows and high ceilings let in plenty of light and ventilation, and now provide condominium owners with sun-filled interiors. 

The transformation from school to condominiums began in 2009 when the (then) owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Wayne and Delores Weaver, bought the property. The Weavers live in the neighborhood and became intrigued by the vintage building while taking walks. They spent 13 million dollars renovating and reconfiguring the building into 68 condos.

Many original features and details of the school were preserved. 

Roy Benjamin and Mellen Greeley collaborated on a number of Jacksonville buildings including several noteworthy homes in Riverside and Avondale.  Benjamin also designed more than two hundred movie houses including downtown's Florida Theatre.

The school was named after Dr. John Gorrie who helped pave the way for modern Florida by inventing the first device that mechanically cooled air. In Apalachicola, Gorrie was looking for ways to treat patients with yellow fever and believed cool air would be beneficial. Refrigeration and air conditioning have their beginnings in his machine that was patented in 1851.

The Weavers have made a difference by re-purposing this historic school.  Who knows what might have become of it had they not stepped in.  They have transformed the building, improved the neighborhood, and provided reasonably priced homes in an historic setting.

The John Gorrie condominiums are located within easy walking distance of restaurants, stores, and the St. Johns River waterfront.