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Rest easy: Old Midtown Atlanta funeral home granted landmark status

A 90-year-old mortuary in Midtown Atlanta has been marked safe from future development, allowing concerned preservationists to rest easy. 

After months of discussions, the city of Atlanta recently granted H.M. Patterson & Son with historical landmark status, Midtown Alliance announced Wednesday. The mortuary — which was listed as one of Atlanta’s most endangered historic places by the Atlanta Preservation Center — is owned by Houston-based Service Corporation International.

Known as Spring Hill Chapel, the business opened in 1928 — well before that area was populated by skyscrapers or MARTA. Today the white structure sits on a hill with a sprawling lawn and gardens on the bustling corner of Spring and 10th streets. It’s flanked by the Downtown Connector to the west and, where a Checkers used to be, a new apartment complex called Hanover West Peachtree to the east.

Hanover West Peachtree on April 11, 2018. (BECCA J. G. GODWIN)

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H.M. Patterson & Son on April 11, 2018. BECCA J. G. GODWIN

The Spring Hill location was designed by the late architect Philip T. Shutze, who is famed for his many works including Swan House and Rhodes House. Spring Hill has held funerals for notable figures such as former mayors Ivan Allen Jr. and William B. Hartsfield, Hartsfield’s widow and Margaret Mitchell. 

The agreement with the property owner includes protection for the main building, the front lawn and the north garden, Midtown Alliance says. The historical designation protects it against future development and ensures the front of the building and garden can be seen from Spring Street. The building’s interior is excluded from protection.

The effort to save the building was not new. In 2000, the executive director of the city's Urban Design Commission at the time said the funeral home did merit the historic designation of a landmark — but the commission had been too short-staffed to get to it. 

The site gained historical landmark status in August.

H.M. Patterson & Son on April 11, 2018.  (BECCA J. G. GODWIN)

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