Photograph of the Trolley Barn from Edgewood Avenue
Photograph of the Trolley Barn from Edgewood Avenue1

If you travel down Edgewood Avenue, you’ll pass through historic parts of Atlanta that have a deep and rich history with the city of Atlanta, including through the retail district and into the historic Inman Park neighborhood. This rich history extends throughout Edgewood Avenue, however there is one building which tends to stand out near the east end of Edgewood Avenue, near the Inman Park/Reynoldstown MARTA station — the Trolley Barn.

A fairly large wooden building painted in dark green with red trim standing right by the roadside sandwiched between large historic homes, it stands out in a way unlike many other buildings along Edgewood. It’s impossible to miss, but also easy to overlook the historic importance of this building.

Located at 963 Edgewood Avenue, the Trolley Barn was originally designed in the 1880s and completed in 1889.2 The Trolley Barn originally served to house the offices and maintenance facility of the Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railway Company founded by Joel Hurt. This company was made by Hurt to service the brand new Inman Park suburb he was developing3 and connect this area with downtown Atlanta. The streetcars boasted luxurious interiors with oak interiors and plate glass windows. However, it had a significant innovation that put it ahead of other streetcar competition in the city — the line established by this company serviced the first electric streetcar in the United States.4 It was even referred to as the “first one in the world to be a financial success from the beginning”.5 Many people came out to line the streets and watch the spectacle of the nation’s first electric streetcars, and it was believed that this innovation brought to Atlanta would be a significant stake in the historic memory of the city and set an example for the future for many years to come.6

Joel Hurt used the profits and successes from his trolley business to try to buy up more of Atlanta’s streetcar services and bring them into the modern era with electricity. In 1891 he formed the Atlanta Consolidated Railway, but by 1902 all streetcar services were merged into the Georgia Railway and Power Company — the predecessor to Georgia Power.7

Trolley Barn, Edgewood Avenue near Elizabeth Street, circa 1890
Trolley barn, Edgewood Avenue near Elizabeth Street, 18908

However, the success of the electric streetcars in Atlanta was relatively short-lived. The development of cars and personal vehicles led to a decline in streetcar services. The first bus services to supplement streetcars in Atlanta began in 1926, followed by trackless trolleys in 1937. The last streetcar made its final run in Atlanta in 1947, with their services having been fully replaced by busses, trackless trolleys, and personal vehicles.10

With the decline of streetcars, the Trolley Barn quickly lost its purpose, and the property underwent a variety of changes over the years. In 1911, Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps showed the property as the Inman Park Baptist Church11, which was there until 1926. By 1933, in place of a maintenance facility or offices, a local farmers market had taken over the property.12 Starting in 1939, the property was briefly the home of a fertilizer and chemical plant.13 If there was no other indication that the era of streetcars in Atlanta was on it’s way out and that the era of personal vehicles was being ushered in, ads were being run in the Atlanta Constitution in 1941 advertising the old Trolley Barn as a car wash.14 Only three years later in 1943, the Trolley Barn became emblematic of a new sign of how Atlanta was changing, with the property being advertised for a construction company looking to hire workers to help lay telephone lines in the Atlanta area.15

Rich Kroko looks over blueprints for the renovation of the Edgewood Railcar Barn
Rich Kroko, vice president of Landmark Restorations, looks over blueprints for the renovation of the Trolley Barn16

By the 1950s, much of the Inman Park neighborhood surrounding the old Trolley Barn was deemed to be in substandard condition.17 The situation for the Trolley Barn itself continued to deteriorate, and in the early 1970s it was condemned by the City of Atlanta. However, residents of the Inman Park area banded together to form a nonprofit organization to raise funds and restore the Trolley Barn to prevent its demolition and preserve a historic neighborhood and city landmark. By 1987, renovations were completed, and has since been operated as an events facility and rental space, using revenues to preserve its condition.18

In 2015, the City of Atlanta finally sold the property directly to the community non-profit organization that had been caring for the property since its renovation — aptly named after its original tenet company — The Atlanta and Edgewood Street Railway Company.19 On their website, the Trolley Barn advertises renting its space for weddings, ceremonies, receptions, corporate and non-profit events, tours of the history of the building, and more, keeping the space in use for community events.

The Trolley Barn continues to stand out among the historic Inman Park neighborhood as a palimpsest of Atlanta’s past, and a historic marker for the evolution of the city. It embodies much of Atlanta’s history, from being the maintenance facility for the nation’s first electric streetcar systems and building a connection to Atlanta’s first suburb,20 to the decline of streetcars and the adoption of personal vehicles, the rise of telephones and telecommunications, and the changing landscape of Inman Park and Atlanta as a whole throughout the years. It is one of the buildings in Atlanta that stands not only as a reminder of history, but has quite literally embraced much of Atlanta’s changing landscape and been at the forefront of many historical developments, and perhaps it will remain at the forefront of those developments for many decades to come and continue to evolve alongside the city.

A photograph inside the Trolley Barn during a Wedding dinner
A photograph inside the Trolley Barn during a Wedding event.21
  1. “Weddings & Social Events Gallery.” The Trolley Barn. Accessed April 22, 2024. ↩︎
  2. 29, Mar, and Aug 11. “The Trolley Barn.” Atlanta Legacy Trail. Accessed April 21, 2024. ↩︎
  3. “Classified Ad 4 — no Title.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Sep 07, 1889. ↩︎
  4. “About Us.” The Trolley Barn. Accessed April 20, 2024. ↩︎
  5. Sparks, Andrew. “A Century of Rapid Transit.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Apr 18, 1971, (accessed April 25, 2024). ↩︎
  7. “Atlanta Consolidated Street Railway.” Atlanta History Center. Accessed April 26, 2024. ↩︎
  8. N01-02, Tracy O’Neal Photographic Collection, 1923-1975, Photographic Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library. ↩︎
  9. AFPL_M0036, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library Digital Collection, Georgia State University. ↩︎
  10. Willard, Neal. “Getting Around in Atlanta for 128 Years.” The Atlanta Journal and the Atlanta Constitution (1950-1968), Feb 10, 1963, Sunday ed., (accessed April 24, 2024). ↩︎
  11. Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. Sanborn Map Company, ; Vol. 2, 1911. Map. ↩︎
  12. “Display Ad 2 — no Title.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jun 09, 1933, (accessed April 22, 2024). ↩︎
  13. “Used as Car Barn Next as a Church, Now for a Plant.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Sep 24, 1939, (accessed April 26, 2024). ↩︎
  14. “Display Ad 19 — no Title.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Apr 12, 1941, (accessed April 22, 2024). ↩︎
  15. “Classified Ad 2 — no Title.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Aug 21, 1944, (accessed April 26, 2024). ↩︎
  16. AJCP216-052as, Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photographic Archives. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University Library ↩︎
  17. Land Use Map of Atlanta. Atlanta History Center. Kenan Research Center, 2017. ↩︎
  18. Kearns, Fergal. “Community Service to the Fore for the Trolley Barn.” The Inman Park Advocator, December 2020. ↩︎
  19. “Historic Trolley Barn to Remain in Community Hands.” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 20, 2015. ↩︎
  20. “Joel Hurt, Son of City Pioneer, Dies.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Apr 15, 1958, (accessed April 26, 2024). ↩︎
  21. “Weddings & Social Events Gallery.” The Trolley Barn. Accessed April 25, 2024. ↩︎