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Two in Atlanta, GA

July 21, 2017

There are two prominent anniversary celebrations this year: 1) the centennial of the Russian Revolution, and 2) the sesqui-centennial of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth. Frankly, the second has greater meaning for me. But there is another centennial that just came to my attention — the Great Atlanta Fire of May 21st, 1917.

Every major urban area has had a fire of some significance. Chicago in 1871; Boston (1872); Seattle (1889); Jacksonville (1901); Baltimore (1904); San Francisco (1906, following the earthquake); these are just the fires in the U.S. The Atlanta fire consumed 300 acres or seventy-three blocks. For a study such as this, these were double-edged swords: the swept relatively early examples of A-A churches, and they provided a clean slate for the construction of new ones.

This combination postcard illustrates two Atlanta churches, each interesting in its own right: Jackson Hill Baptist church, a fine example of the Richardsonian Romanesque, and Temple Baptist church, a remarkable heap of stone looking more like a mosque or synagogue than a place of Christian worship. The first of these was lost in the 1917 conflagration; I’m uncertain about the second.

Views of Jackson Hill and Temple Baptist Churches Atlanta, GA

Besides the buildings themselves, two other things are worth noting:

  • Other images of either building are simply not available from a quick search;
  • Likewise, information on their design and construction, the name of their architect, even the date of construction have so far eluded me.

Jackson Hill is a fairly orthodox design from the years of H. H. Richardson’s influence, but Temple Baptist is an altogether different matter. How could this be the sole photographic representation available? And how can such a substantial structure have evaded treatment in social or architectural histories?

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