the histories of our streets

Georgia State University students map Atlanta's past

Author: B. Emmanuel Montes Espericueta

John Portman’s Development of Peachtree Center

John Portman

John Portman was born on December 4, 1924, in South Carolina. Portman was raised in Atlanta and served during World War II. He attended Georgia Tech where he would study and earn his degree in architecture in 1950. He opened his architectural firm in 1953 and named it John Portman and Associates. This company would transform his company into a real-estate company, and eventually become involved in a home decor wholesaler. Not only would his work be in the city of Atlanta, but also in Chicago, Illinois; California, San Francisco; and Detroit, Michigan. Portman would become an important architect and restate developer figure in Atlanta’s development of Peachtree Center and reviving the decaying city. 1

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The Disappearance of the Immaculate Conception Convent and Fulton High Vocational School

The Immaculate Conception Convent was located at 235 Washington Street. The Convent was part of the Catholic church and represented an area of religious work. Before the expressway was built, the building existed right underneath where the express lies today. An entire community existed underneath the expressway which included apartments, houses, and even a vocational school. The disappearance of this area was caused during the building of the expressway but there is evidence that suggests that an entire community existed before.

Atlanta 1932 Sanborn Map

The Immaculate Conception convent was located near many duplexes and in front of the Vocational school. The convent seemed to be a celebrated location in the community as it provided religious services. The Convent represented the catholic church that housed nuns, provided church school, and was mainly dominated by women. The Convent also was referenced in the Atlanta Constitution Newspaper multiple times. The convent seems to be mostly forgotten and erased from Atlanta’s history, but there is limited evidence that proves that this convent once served a community.

The Atlanta Constitution provided newspapers that gave a glimpse of how the convent served the community. An article that was written on June 20, 1891, simply promoted church exercises and mentioned how the services were done mainly by women.1 The promotion’s purpose was to encourage people to show up and attend mass in the evening. On July 5, 1935, the Atlanta Constitution covered the 50 anniversary of Sister Mary Loretta Hogan and her service to the Immaculate Conception Convent.2 The newspaper mentioned how she served as a teacher, nun, and nurse in the convent. Another article that referenced the convent was written on Oct 3, 1937, which covered the celebration of the 60th-anniversary career of Sister M. Elizabeth Donelan.3 The newspaper dedicated a page that covers the sister’s biography and her service to the convent in Atlanta. The articles prove that women dominated the building and that there once existed a convent which was replaced by concrete expressways.

The Atlanta Constitution Newspapers coverage, 1891, 1935, and 1937.

The Fulton Vocational School was located next to the Immaculate Conception Convent and near the Fulton High School. A Vocational school is a trade school that provides programs on multiple careers including electricians or carpenters. The Fulton Vocational School was purposely located near the Fulton High School in order to encourage students to seek technical careers. The Atlanta Constitution barely gives any references to this vocational school, but there is coverage that mentions Fulton County’s attempt to create programs to create jobs. One interesting discovery was that Fulton County was creating these vocational programs to discourage crime and help male students become mechanics, plumbers, electricians, or printing skills.4 A newspaper that was published on August 10, 1957, announced the construction of the expressway that was forcing the community to be moved near Cleveland Ave, near the prison.5 This coverage mentioned how the community was going to be re-established in a new community and would cost about $350,000 to do so. 6

The Atlanta Constitution coverage of the Fulton High Vocational School.

Today, both the convent and vocational school are gone from existence. The only traces of these buildings were poorly recorded in the newspaper and apparent in the Atlanta 1932 Sanborn Map. The area in which these buildings were located has fallen to the expressway.


  1. “THE CLOSING EXERCISES: OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CONVENT LAST NIGHT.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jun 20, 1891.↩︎
  2.  “Catholic Teacher Marks Fiftieth Anniversary.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Jul 05, 1935.↩︎
  3. Land, Maxine. “Sister Marks Her Diamond Jubilee in Celebration at Convent here: 81-Year-Old Nun Attributes Membership in Order to Arrival of Sister in Family; Friends Honor Her Career Sister Marks 60th Anniversary in Convent.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Oct 03, 1937.↩︎
  5. “Fulton Office Giving Way to Freeway.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Aug 10, 1957. ↩︎
  6. “Fulton Office Giving Way to Freeway.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Aug 10, 1957.

Grady Memorial Hospital

Grady Memorial was founded in 1890. It first opened in 1892 in a small building that still stands today. It was named after Henry W. Grady. The hospital started with fourteen rooms and expanded over the years. The hospital had several locations, including Georgia Hall, Butler Hall, and Hirsch Hall. At one point, the hospital was segregated and divided areas by gender. Today, Grady Memorial Hospital is considered one of the largest hospitals in Atlanta.

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The Grady Memorial is located at 80 Jesse Hill Jr Dr SE, Atlanta, GA 30303. This is the biggest hospital visible in the Atlanta area. Many people go there for checkups and services. I was born in this hospital (Grady Baby). I know many people who were born here including my siblings, cousins, and friends. As a kid, I would always come to this hospital for check-ups and afterward would walk around the city with my mother. During my high school years, I would sometimes walk from my school passing the hospital to reach the Georgia State Marta Station. The Marta Station is nearby so there is easy access to transportation. I took my selfie from the upper level of the GSU parking lot , which displays me and the hospital in the background. The thing that amazes me is how big this hospital is getting. Many new facilities are being built around the hospital and expanding. I have so many sweet memories as a child of this place and hope that this hospital continues to give services to the city of Atlanta.

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