Michael Page, a lecturer at Emory University, prepares to photograph a wall at Manuel’s Tavern using the GigaPan system. Page, along with Ruth Dusseault of Georgia State University and other scholars and volunteers, are documenting the interior of Manuel’s Tavern before it goes through a major renovation. BOB ANDRES / BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres
Photo: Bob Andres

Documenting Manuel’s Tavern: the high art of a dive bar

The walls of Manuel’s Tavern, the legendary Poncey-Highland watering hole, are covered with photographs, mementos, beer signs, scandalous paintings — the kind of debris that accumulates in a man cave after 60 years of serving beer and conversation.

But to the patrons of Manuel’s, these artifacts are sacred. Just ask owner Brian Maloof, the youngest son of the founder.

Maloof tried moving a small painting of a World War II air battle, apparently depicting the daylight bombing of Berlin. No sooner was it off the wall than Maloof heard from the widow of an American airman who was killed in that fight.

“I could tell it was almost like I had disturbed the final resting place of her husband,” Maloof said. “I put it back up.”

This kind of scriptural obsession is one reason so many Manuel’s regulars are stressed about plans to close the tavern Dec. 27 for three months of renovations. 

Click here to read the rest of the story about the preservation efforts going on at Manuel's Tavern, and take an interactive look at one of the bar's walls.

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