Baltimore Row

If you're ever on West Peachtree where the interstates come in just south of North Ave there's a short little street with a guard house called Baltimore Pl. Now there's only a couple of buildings but here's how the WPA guide to Atlanta described it in 1942:

Baltimore Place between West Peachtree and Spring Sts., is a row of brick houses which, occupied as residences by fashionable society during the eighties and nineties, has recently become a miniature Greenwich Village for Atlanta artists and writers. The three-story dwellings were erected in 1885 by a Baltimore investment corporation known variously as the Baltimore Land Company and the Atlanta Land and Annuity Company. According to the old Baltimore real estate system, the land was leased from its original owner for 99 years and houses sold for the duration of the lease. Construction followed the Baltimore pattern of joining separate units in one continuous front set flush with the sidewalk.

Although the carved white cornice extending across the joined facades gives the impression of a single building, the dwellings are actually separate, with 18 inches of air space between the brick walls. The uniformity of the stoops and deeply recessed entrances is relieved somewhat by minor variations: some of the stoops have stone steps and others have brick steps with iron railings; some of the glass transom lights above the doors are rectangular, while others are fan-shaped. Grilles protect some of the basement windows, and the ironwork is repeated in a second-floor balcony that runs the width of several of the middle houses.

Early in the 1880's commerce had broken into the formerly desirable residential sections around Capitol Square, causing many of Atlanta's leading families to move farther north to Peachtree and its side streets. Some of them, attracted by the trim, compact dwellings of a type so new to the city, established themselves on Baltimore Block and made it a fashionable neighborhood.

Each house was occupied by only one family; the first floor was taken up by a dining room and a large and a small living room, while the second and third floors each had two large bedrooms, adjoining dressing rooms, and a large apartment used either for storage or by the seamstress on her biennial visits to deck out the ladies of the household. Following the plan of English town houses, the kitchen was in the basement, with back stairs leading up to the dining room. A system of central heating, one of the first in the city, was effected by placing a Baltimore heater in each fireplace on the lower floor with vents running to the rooms above. The plan for each house was identical except for "pairing off" by opposite arrangements of hallways and fireplaces.

Into the new century this row remained the habitat of the leisurely and elegant generation which had made it popular. Every afternoon of pleasant weather smart carriages clattered over the stone blocks of this street, for it had one of the first cobblestone pavements in the town. So arresting was this line of Georgian facades that Atlanta showed it to visitors as one of the leading sights.

But, as the twentieth century advanced, new commercial buildings closed rapidly about Baltimore Block and drove its residents still farther northward. Asa Candler, the affluent and public-spirited Coca-Cola king, attempted to buy the entire block for the establishment of a medical center, but this project failed because one owner refused to sell. In the years immediately following, the units were rented for various purposes to short-term tenants, but quality continued to decline until some of the houses stood vacant, their gaping doors inviting only vagrants to the shelter of the cobwebbed rooms.

During the depression a group of artists, in search of inexpensive quarters, rented space here and opened studios. Rent was low and remodeling had to be done at the tenant's own expense; some made only minor necessary changes, while others decorated with gay colors, painting the fronts white and the doors deep blue or Chinese red. Window boxes and trellised morning glories further enlivened the shops, photographers' studios, landscape architects' establishments, and the workrooms or living quarters of artists. A tearoom, patronized periodically by most of the occupants, became a factor of fusion for the community spirit.

Since four of the houses at the Spring Street corner were razed to make way for an oil company, only ten dwellings now remain in the block, and only one of the original families still owns the property here. But Baltimore Block has again become a leading sight of Atlanta, both because its architectural style is unique in the city and because it is the home of persons prominent in Atlanta's artistic life.

Now it looks like there's only 4 building's left all on the north side of the street. The oil company they mention is Wofford Oil Co Filling Station. There were more than fifty around town and their tagline:

Asa Candler did get his medical center just up the street -- Crawford Long. It looks like many early residents were affiliated with Georgia Tech.