Actual Factual Georgia: Concordia Hall stands out on Hotel Row

Q: There’s a gorgeous old building on the corner of Mitchell and Forsyth streets. It was a magnificent building in its day. Can you find out something about it?

—Sperry Wilder, Roswell

A: You’re one of many Atlantans who admire Concordia Hall, a three-story brick building that was built in 1892 and spared from a 1908 fire that decimated the surrounding area.

The name came from the Concordia Association, a group of prominent Jewish leaders which met there for years.

And while many of Concordia Hall’s original architectural features – including a dome turret – are gone, it’s revered for its surviving details.

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Those include the doorway leading to Forsyth Street that features a circular window “encased in a short Italianate arch,” the Atlanta Urban Design Commission states. A lyre, which was the symbol of the Concordia Association, is the centerpiece of the pediment.

“This is a top-notch example of what was common in Atlanta at this time,” said Stephanie Cherry-Farmer, national register coordinator for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Historic Preservation Division. “This is a window back into what this area would have looked like at this time.”

Concordia Hall anchors a group of buildings known as Hotel Row that stretches along Mitchell Street.

Thousands of train passengers headed to Atlanta in those days, and many of them disembarked at nearby Terminal Station, which was located where the Richard B. Russell Federal Building now stands.

They needed places to stay, so developers built nearby hotels.

Hotel Row also includes the Gordon, the Scoville and the Sylvan hotels, and another commercial building, but since Concordia Hall survived the fire, it’s the “most unique building on the row,” Cherry-Farmer said.

Hotel Row is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated a Landmark District by the city.

That protects the buildings from “unsympathetic alternations, additions, and ultimately, demolition,” said Doug Young, the assistant director of historic preservation and executive director of the Atlanta Urban Design Commission.

“The key consideration for Hotel Row is it’s an example of Atlanta’s railroad history through commercialization,” he added. “There would have been other commercial businesses around at that time, but that hotel connection is a reminder and emblematic that railroad history is a key to Atlanta’s development. … Even though we don’t have a downtown station anymore, this is a key way of knowing something about that history.”

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