Georgian Terrace has played host to statesmen and stars

This story was first published in 2011, on the 100th anniversary of the Georgian Terrace.

It's been called the grande dame of Atlanta hotels and one of the jewels of Peachtree Street.

The Georgian Terrace hotel, which has played host to presidents, rock stars and the premiere gala for "Gone With the Wind, " officially turns 100 this year, with a number of celebrations planned.

"When it opened, it was offered up as the most luxurious hotel in the Southeast, " said Vickie Sutherland, director of sales and marketing. "It was very elegant."

The Georgian Terrace also represented hope for the South, which was still rebuilding from the Civil War, even though the conflict had ended decades earlier, Sutherland said.

Atlanta's 'Paris hotel'

Constructed by New York architect W.L. Stoddart for $500,000, the butter-colored 10-story brick building was built in the French Renaissance style, with turreted corners, story-tall Palladian windows, white marble columns, elliptical staircases and Italian-tiled floors.

The hotel, which sits across the street from another Atlanta icon, the Fox Theatre, would later be hailed by some as the city's "Paris hotel."

That glamour would be associated with the building for decades. It's the place where author Margaret Mitchell handed over her manuscript for "Gone With the Wind." It was where the stars of the movie based on her book gathered after its world premiere at downtown's Loew's Grand. And it was the place to be in the 1970s to see Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and the Pretenders, who played at the hotel's Electric Ballroom.

Back from decline

Over the years, the Georgian Terrace declined until in the 1980s it was abandoned and run-down. The homeless sought refuge in the interiors that once held glamorous parties. Plans called for it to be demolished and replaced by an office building.

But in 1991, Frank Howington restored the building for use as apartments. He also constructed a connecting 20-story tower to offer more housing.

Then, in 1997 a group of investors bought the Georgian Terrace in an attempt to return it to its former glory.

Its previous renovation into apartments allowed the newly revived hotel to have larger rooms with full-size kitchens, dens and washers and dryers.

Character with age

"What the Georgian Terrace has that no other hotel in Atlanta has is the character and the ambience that comes with a 100-year-old building, " said Mark Woodworth, president of Colliers PKF Hospitality Research.

To mark its 100th birthday, the hotel's operators will hold ballroom dance parties every Thursday beginning this week; a reception for the premiere of Georgia Public Broadcasting's documentary on Mitchell in June; and they are putting together a private all-star tribute to rock music impresario Alex Cooley in July.

Other events include a gathering at the hotel of Arthur Murray dancers from throughout the United States Aug. 4-6; a reading of the memoir of Joseph Gatins, whose family owned the building for decades; and a black-tie gala in October, which will include 100 of Atlanta's most influential business and civic leaders.

Georgian Terrace: A timeline

Date opened: Oct. 2, 1911

Original cost of construction: $500,000

Famous guests: Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Leslie Howard, Tallulah Bankhead, President Calvin Coolidge, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Enrico Caruso, and more recently Betty White, George Clooney, Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Paul Walker and Paul Wesley

Number of rooms: 288 suites, 32 standard rooms, six penthouse suites

Architect: W.L. Stoddart (1869-1940). The 1991 addition was designed by Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart and Associates.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places: 1986

Square footage: 500,000 total --- 150,000 original; 350,000 addition

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