Atlanta firefighters are battling a blaze at an abandoned building at Morris Brown College.
Photo: Isaac Green / Special to the AJC
Photo: Isaac Green / Special to the AJC

Firefighters battle blaze at former Morris Brown building

A former Morris Brown College building now owned by Invest Atlanta was engulfed in fire Thursday evening.

Flames shot up and a cloud of dense smoke billowed from the three-story structure which was purchased by the city’s economic development agency.

The building - Gaines Hall - was once an honors dormitory on the campus. The former dorm was named for Rev. Wesley John Gaines, an early supporter of the college, according to the Georgia Encyclopedia.

The building was sold to Invest Atlanta as part of bankruptcy proceedings, said Morris Brown spokesman Audraine Jackson in an email.

Around 9 p.m., Atlanta firefighters were still checking the smoldering building for hot spots after responding to the 2-alarm fire just before 8 p.m. Fire officials said they would remain on site into the night.

The size of the blaze and the smoke pouring from the building drew heavy attention on social media with users posting photos of the plumes in the distance. The fire department had urged people to avoid the area around Martin Luther King near Vine Street.

The college sought bankruptcy protection in August 2012. Earlier this year, the college emerged from bankruptcy and as part of the proceedings, agreed to sell 26 acres of property and buildings to Invest Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church for $14.7 million. The college retained ownership of the school’s administration building, Griffin Hightower Classroom building and Fountain Hall.

— Reporter Janel Davis contributed to this article. Check back for updates at

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