the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: aeanes1

The Winecoff Hotel Fire

Sketch of Winecoff Hotel.

The Winecoff Hotel, currently known as the Ellis Hotel, was burned down on the early morning of December 7, 1946. The fire started around 3:15 A.M. and claimed the lives of 119 occupants. 1The story of large building fires during the 1940s was not a unique one, but the Winecoff Hotel Fire created a wake up call for fire safety throughout the country. The absence of fire alarms and sprinkler systems in the Winecoff Hotel resulted in an update to building codes around the country. Eerie stories of abnormal activities at the current Ellis Hotel has been a catalyst for a local Atlanta bone-chilling chronicle. 

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Allen Temple AME

Illustration of Allen Temple AME Original Building

Originally established in 1866, 3 years after emancipation, the Allen Temple AME was located at the corner of Solomon and Fraser which is now still mostly residential. The other side of the street was turned into a parking lot, but this small block survived. This historic congregation serves as a lasting example to what the Summerhill neighborhood looked like before the construction of the highways. This congregation reflected and served the mostly black neighborhood that it was embedded in. The church expanded extensively while in the Summerhill neighborhood and bought property on Fraser Street. With this newly acquired property the congregation built a building costing $75,000 used as an educational building. The church also faced financial burdens in 1948 with a debt of $35,000 that was quickly paid off under the new leadership. Between 1956 and 1965 the congregation was tasked with the responsibility of relocation. The new parsonage and educational building was constructed first with the main sanctuary following shortly after. In 1969 the Allen Temple apartments valued at $6,000,000 were completed and provided housing for those in the surrounding community. The Allen Temple AME’s history is not without complication, there have been cases of division amongst the congregation over speakers invited. Despite the hardship the church has faced throughout the years, the congregation celebrated its 153 year anniversary this year. Though it relocated to Joseph E. Boone in 1956, the congregation still gives attention to their roots in the Summerhill neighborhood.1 

Sanborn Map of The Area at the Time.

The Allen Temple AME hosted many gatherings such as gospel concerts, conferences, birthday celebrations, and hosted revivals for visiting preachers. They even hosted a celebration in remembrance of president Abraham Lincoln’s birthday in 18992. When it comes to the political activism that the church served we see examples of black activists visiting the church to make speeches. One example of this is Reverend W.D. Johnson who delivered a message to Negro Young People’s Christian and Educational Congress in 1902.3 Many political activists found their roots in churches such as Allen Temple AME which allowed for leaders to rally a congregation behind a cause. The church also served as an outreach to help the community and facilitated many charity events including the construction of housing for community members, advancement of education, as well as raising money for various causes.

Many black neighborhoods such as Summerhill were centered around the local church. Churches such as Allen Temple AME was much more than just a church, it served as a safe haven for the black community to escape the hardships of the time. In the height of the Jim Crow south the church allowed for the freedom of cultural and religious expression which is something that was suppressed by centuries of slavery. Allen Temple AME and other African American churches paved the way for avenues of religious expressions that we see today. Though the church was relocated for unknown reasons but the church still stands on the same principles as when it was established.

  1. “About Us,” Allen Temple AMEC, accessed April 8, 2024,
  2. “The Birthday Of Lincoln,” The Atlanta Constitution , February 4, 1899. ↩︎
  3. “Johnson Speaks Tomorrow ,” The Atlanta Constitution , August 16, 1902. ↩︎

Black Blocks

Black Blocks has been a center for Atlanta skate culture since 1996, known by locals as Black Blocks because of its checkered appearance. I personally have spent countless hours here even before I officially lived in Atlanta. I would drive about an hour down 400 to skate in the city and this spot was always the meeting point for friends to meet to hit other skate spots around the city. Though our intention was to go elsewhere, we often spent the whole day here trying to get clips. It’s the perfect spot if you don’t feel like skating all over town just to get kicked out of every spot. 

Black Blocks is a staple in Atlanta culture and has been featured in many skate videos. My favorite trick is Grant Taylor’s gap to blunt on his “Magic Maka Bus” Video

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