Sunday, April 6, 2014

Touring Atlanta: The Wonderful Georgian Terrace Hotel Part Two

If you missed Part One of my post on the Georgian Terrace Hotel please click the link HERE. When I ended Part One we were in the swing of things, with the hotel at the height of its popularity at the beginning of the 1940s. Gone With the Wind had just premiered at Loews Grand Atlanta with the cast enjoying their stay, reception at the hotel.

You might even be asking yourself, "What more needs to be said about this hotel after the GWTW premier?" Well, let me tell you.

Seven years after GWTW had its premier where the streets were blocked off for the throws of fans hoping to get a glimpse of Gable, Leigh and de Havilland, Atlanta would roll out the carpet once again for Walt Disney.  It was 1946 and Walt would return for the long waited but controversial premier of Song of the South. This time the Fox Theater, directly across the street from the Georgian Terrace would host the event. And once again, Walt would stay at the grand hotel, enjoying its world class amenities.  

Walt Disney arrives in Atlanta to throngs of fans.

Just a year before, the Georgian Terrace had been transformed into residential hotel, installing air conditioning and full kitchens into each unit. Now the upper class could stay long term, enjoying first class service 365 days a year. 

Perhaps Walt admired the wrap around balconies as he entered the front lobby, lit by their ornate Italian bronze and crystal chandeliers. 

Perhaps he enjoyed a meal or two in the hotel restaurant as we did during our stay.

We were celebrating a trip to Atlanta and getting to tour the Fox Theater after hours but I wonder if Walt was also celebrating his long awaited release of Song of the South?

Hopefully, Walt enjoyed some time on one of the tiled wrap balconies while there.

Of course, Walt and the cast of GWTW  weren't the only notable guests throughout the years. Elvis Presley, Tallulah Bankhead, Rudolph Valentino, Helen Keller, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Charles Lindbergh not to mention presidents, Calvin Coolidge and Warren Harding enjoyed stays at the hotel. 

Yes, the 20s throughout the 40s were a majestic time for the towering hotel in the center of downtown Atlanta. But like most things, affected by economic downturns and war, the hotel would find itself going through changes and not for the better as the 50s approached.

Long gone was the ladies carriage entrance on the Ponce de Leon side of the hotel, along with the vivid green awnings that protected guests from the blazing Atlanta sun. No, it was a new era with the public staying at home and entertaining themselves in front of the television or radio. Welcome technology which transported everyone to another place, still grandiose and wonderful.

With Atlanta enjoying all that the 50s offered, there was a need to utilize areas of the hotel, not only to make some money but to draw new guests and visitors to the hotel. That opportunity presented itself when WAKE-AM radio, formerly radio station WBGE rented out part of the first floor of the hotel.

The WAGE-AM radio entrance of the hotel which faces Ponce de Leon. c. 1956

It would appear the butter brick needs a good steam cleaning and the carriage entrances have long since been replaced with wrought iron barred windows. Also gone is the early downtown trolley line which delivered visitors to the hotel's front doors.

The same entrance and stairs during my visit and pictured above during the days of WAKE-AM.

Another view of the WAKE-AM radio entrances and the Georgian Terrace, now a residential hotel.

Looking at the same side of the hotel and how it appears today.

The WAKE radio station would remain at The Georgian Terrace until the early 1960s and the hotel would still attract guests, goers of the Atlanta Opera but the grand dame was badly in need of renovations.  Newer hotels with modern amenities were being built in downtown Atlanta to attract tourists, meet the demands of new commerce, leaving The Georgian Terrace behind. Sure, guests wanted to stay where Clark Gable once slept and it was a just a stones throw away from the popular Fox Theater. 

As the years went by, the debilitated hotel, no longer able to attract long term guests, spiraled into a financial decline. By 1981 the inevitable would happen. For the first time in 70 years, the once opulent, Georgian Terrace would close its doors.  

Sadly, all during the 80s, the high rise would remain boarded up, only attracting the homeless looking for a warm place to stay or a great place for vandals to strip anything they could find to sell from the intricate tile to the hand forged wall sconces and light fixtures. Just an eye sore for Atlanta residents and a major thorn in the side for city officials and rescue workers as they were called out on a daily basis to put out fires, run off thieves at the white elephant. 

The now vacant hotel, home only to vagrants and rats, during the 80s.

The eloquent ballroom where Arthur Murray first taught dance so many years ago and the cast of GWTW had their reception. Ruined by years of neglect.

How in the world would it ever find its way back to this?

It must have been gut wrenching to know all of the original fixtures were being pillaged, all but forgotten.

By 1989, Atlanta had, had enough and with much contention and vocal opposition it was decided that The Georgian Terrace would be torn down, making way for new development.  The hotel clearly needed saving, a last reprieve but who would step in to save it?

The citizens of Atlanta and the Historical Society would save it! YAY for loud voices and those working tirelessly to protect the history of our cities. In 1989 The Georgian Terrace Hotel was deemed a historical landmark where it remains as part of the Fox Theatre District on the National Register of Historical Places.

The property quickly found a buyer and the new owners got to work turning the high rise into luxury apartments. With renovations a new 19 story wing was erected, with its glass spiral entrance, proudly greeting guests on the southeast side of the hotel, still facing Peachtree. A spectacular rooftop pool was also built, with red brick balconies facing Ponce where guests could enjoy a growing Atlanta skyline and breathtaking views.

The newly renovated hotel with its 19 story wing and glass tower. The Fox Theater directly across the street and the Ponce de Leon luxury apartments pictured to the right. 

A closeup of the glass tower and new wing during my stay. 

From inside the new addition to the hotel, looking up from the glass spiral towards the marble spiral staircases. (original to the hotel.)

The new entrance during my stay from the ramp which takes you to the Livingston Mim restaurant which is now where the old hotel entrance was until the mid 80s. 

It was December when I visited Atlanta, quiet cold and rainy but I did get myself up to the rooftop to see the views and pool area. I can picture it during the summer with bathing beauties and guests enjoying a cocktail on the upper balconies.

The new owners spared no expense when it came to renovations and the private residents would enjoy these amenities until 1997 when they were forced to move to make way for the re-grand opening of The Georgian Terrace Hotel. Within the hotel you'll find the Livington Mims restaurant where you can enjoy fine dining. A concierge who is there to guide you in all Atlanta has to offer and answer all your questions about the history of the hotel. (Thank you so much, Brent!) The friendliest doormen, parking attendants and bellhops I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. 

My very comfortable two bedroom, two bath suite with a full kitchen and living area. 

Beautiful ladies by the bed.

Splendid views from every room.

But lets go back downstairs because I want to talk about the layout of the hotel and some of the architecture, original to the hotel. When it was first built in 1919, as you walked through the main lobby, you found yourself in an open courtyard with topiaries and potted shrubs. There were wrought iron chairs and tables for guests to mingle and enjoy a private outdoor seating area within the hotel walls. I found this interesting and also hilarious. You see, now that the new lobby and wing have been built, that original courtyard is now enclosed and it's used for seating, the concierge area. When you walk in and look up from each floor you see the other side and into the windows of other rooms. My first thought was, this is right out of Rear Window. Where's Jimmy Stewart with his camera? Confusing? Allow me to show you.

As you enter the new, glass enclosed lobby and look up you see the old part of the hotel which used to be in the shape of a U. What was once an enclosed courtyard. 

Inside, as I exited the elevator to go to my room on the 6th floor, I looked across at the other old wing of the hotel and Rear Window came to mind immediately. Anyone else see it? And no, in case you were curious, I didn't witness any foul play or murder while there. Just fun, loads of fun while touring Atlanta.

Old meets new! The main landing as it joins the original courtyard to the new wing. Marble staircases and floors greet you as you make your way down to the basement and more ballrooms, conference rooms. I actually love that they didn't cover the inner room windows with fake facades and that they left the original part of the hotel intact, restored it as close as possible to how it looked during its heyday. 

The new addition on the basement level. Beautifully matched tile to the original wing.

Lots of tile in the basement as find your way to the new Margaret Mitchell Ballroom.

I got lost several times wandering around the basement level looking for the Mitchell Ballroom but I did find some interesting rooms, sitting areas and the original back entrance to the hotel where the staff and ladies once entered. 

At last! I finally found the Margaret Mitchell Ballroom although it took the concierge, Brent practically holding my hand and leading the way. It's very well hidden in the new wing of the hotel. Lots of weddings are held in this room. 

The Mitchell Ballroom gives you perfect views of one of the original courtyards with concrete benches and wonderful shade trees. 

Back to the new lobby with its wrap around, green velvet couches and more marble tile.

They've really done a wonderful job combining the new wing (left) with the original wing from 1919 (right)

Beautifully decorated for the holidays.

The new lobby looking towards the original U shaped courtyard, now enclosed. So much Atlanta history in this hotel.

The delightful, Brent! The Georgian Terrace Hotel's concierge. He was so very helpful in filling in the blanks as far as the hotel history, who stayed when and I can't wait to return so I can see him again and get even more details on Atlanta and its history. 

One last view!

I hope you enjoyed my tour of The Georgian Terrace Hotel and for more photos of the hotel interiors and exteriors now and when it was first built along with more history on it,  please check out Part One. (link included above.) And if you find yourself in downtown Atlanta I do hope you'll take a tour or even spend a night or two there. 

I'll be writing about the Fabulous Fox Theater, my after hours tour and the Margaret Mitchell house but first I'm going to do Part 4 of my Mary Astor bio. One of my loyal readers, Errol in Ireland reminded me that I still haven't finished it so it's on my agenda. (Thanks for being so patient with me, Errol!)

See you soon!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Springtime for Classic Hollywood

Hello, everyone!
We're enjoying some pretty nice weather here in the south and with Spring, you can always count on some fab photos of our favorite classic stars enjoying the outdoors. Whether it's lounging around a pool, posing for photos beside a tree or just wandering around hoping to get noticed.

Let's see what the stars were up to, shall we!

Gina Lollobrigida 'hangs out' in sequins. I can't help but think this is where the creators of Gilligan's Island got their inspiration for Ginger. Does anyone else see the resemblance?

A very young, Irene Dunne spends some time on the golf course. (If I could get away with wearing this chic outfit on the golf course, I would so do it! She looks amazing.)

Janet Gaynor stays fit by playing tennis in some very stylish Navy inspired shorts. 

A young and beautiful, Lana Turner finds a quiet place to reflect and show off those legs.

Jennifer Jones, dressed in the latest Spring fashions, takes time for a photo outside her Beverly Hills home.

Natalie Wood relaxes by the pool. Loving the cool blues, Natalie!

Wynne Gibson finds a quiet place to get some reading in. 

Louise Brooks and her iconic bob, go for a round of tennis. (Don't you just love those shoes?)

Elizabeth Taylor stuns in gingham.

I hope you're all enjoying this Spring weather. 
Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beautiful Women of Hollywood

Hello everyone!
A friend emailed me this video link and I just had to share it. Very clever to use the morphing process to show 50 beautiful women of Hollywood. Of course he missed a few that I'm sure my readers would want included, but it's still worth a look.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Film Centric Book Chat: What Have You Been Reading?

Please forgive my photos. I used my iPhone instead of my digital camera.

Hello everyone! Have you recovered from Award season?

I know there's been a lot of TCM Parties going on with my blog readers and fellow classic film fans but I haven't watched that many lately to comment on or review. Of course if something airs with the Gish sisters or the Talmadge sisters I make it a priority to watch.

What is the reason for that? Why those silent screen dolls? Well, since you've asked. I want to see as many of their films as possible and read as much on them as possible before writing about them right here as well as sharing my Gish and Talmadge memorabilia.

Not only have I been on a search of their early work on celluloid, I've purchased several books about them through Amazon. I think I've mentioned in the past how much I adore David Niven and he's one of my favorite authors. I have all of his memoirs and he really was at the top of his game when it came to writing about his colleagues, friendships in Hollywood throughout his career and beyond. Well, I'm starting to feel that way about Anita Loos. (If you've read any of her books on her time in Hollywood you'll know what I mean.)

There just aren't many good books out there on the Talmage sisters or the Gish sisters that I'm aware of. But I did manage to find The Talmage Girls by Anita Loos. Written in 1979. Loos had been a fixture around Hollywood from its early days, writing many scripts for Biograph beginning in 1915 then appearing in a few pictures, thanks to a chance meeting with D.W. Griffith. She knew all of the movers and shakers, deal makers and the starlets who landed in Tinseltown looking for their big break. She developed lifelong friendships with a lucky few then went on to write several books about these friends and her ups and downs in Hollywood.

A little banged up but a must have book if you're a fan of Norma or Constance. (Like how I managed to fit my Oscar nail in there?) 

Her book on the Talmage sisters doesn't cover their entire lives nor does it go into that much detail about their careers in Hollywood other than a list of their films with Anita's thoughts towards the end of the book. I wish she had used this opportunity to give us a full bio on their lives. With that said, I'll take what I can get. Anita writes with humor and she's honest about her subjects so that alone is worth purchasing this book. 

On to the next book I'm reading. Cast of Thousands by Anita Loos. Published in 1977. This is a thick, coffee table book. 

The dust cover is pretty banged up but for $1.99 it was well worth the money.

The description of the contents reads "A pictorial memoir of the most glittering stars of Hollywood and the most dazzling of the world's literary and social lights"  Another humorous and honest look back at her time in Hollywood. This one has a lot of great photos of not only Loos but many of the early stars of the silver screen. Loos also includes a lot of her memorabilia from her time working in Hollywood. I would recommend this book for any classic film fan. 

One of the many photos in Cast of Thousands. This one of Anita Loos and her sister, Gladys.

Pages and pages of candid classic star photos with telegrams, art, personal letters of Anita's. 

The third book that I'm reading is Dorothy and Lillian Gish by Lillian Gish. Published in 1973. This is another oversized coffee table book and it is page after page of  photos, letters and other memorabilia belonging to the Gish sisters. Beautiful photos from Lillian's collection. Although I was looking for info on their lives and careers I'm quite happy with the book. It's a great book to have for any fan of the Gish sisters or early Hollywood. 

 Page after page of photo collages of the Gish beauties.

Again, while this is a book of photos, I'm thrilled to have it and most grateful that Lillian Gish left us with such a wonderful tribute to her sister, Dorothy.

Now that you know how I've been spending my free time. What have you been reading? Do you own any of these books? Please tell us all about it in the comments section and thanks for stopping by.