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Building blocks

Home base history lives on at the corners of Peachtree and Ponce


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Yard sales are scarce in Midtown's Fox Theatre Historic District, because yards are nonexistent. Instead, it holds three Atlanta landmarks – the Fox Theatre, the Georgian Terrace and the Ponce de Leon Apartments – all located on the corner of Peachtree Street and Ponce de Leon Avenue and the cutting edge of Atlanta's pomp and circumstance.

The Bank of America Plaza's pinnacle dominates the Midtown skyline, spiking high above the Ponce de Leon Apartments (known to Realtors today as the Ponce Condominiums). Down the street, the Spire Midtown condominiums' 29 stories dwarf the antique building.

Despite its relatively small stature, there's nothing humble about the 94-year-old high rise. It's one of the city's oldest apartment complexes and serves as a hoity-toity homestead with determined security.

For people not handing over the arm and leg required to buy a large condo there, getting a look inside is like entering Fort Knox. The concierge, a kindly gentleman perfectly suited to his historically significant charge, is both an old-world charmer and a hardcore bouncer.

The Ponce de Leon Apartments' secret-handshake approach contrasts with the inviting atmosphere of the Georgian Terrace, the historic hotel across the street. Architect William Stoddart built the hotel in 1911 and the apartments in 1913, and although neither defines the Atlanta skyline today, both set the standard for fine Renaissance revival style.

Before it was devoted entirely to entertaining nostalgic Atlanta visitors, the Georgian Terrace housed the well-to-do. Former resident Nancy Simmons, whose father worked as the hotel manager from 1946 to 1953, reaped the benefits of living in such swank surroundings. She spent hours learning to roller-skate in the ballroom rather than riding her bike on the sidewalk as she would have in the 'burbs.

What the Ponce de Leon Apartments have that newer condos do not, and what the Georgian Terrace boasts that other hotel chains cannot, is a sense of history bolstered by a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The two share historical status with their more famous neighbor, the Fox Theatre, perhaps more popular than Loew’s Grand, well-known for screening Gone With the Wind's 1939 premiere. (The Georgian Terrace hosted the film event's reception.) Of the four, the Fabulous Fox stands out.

The theater's flashing marquee along Peachtree's west side trumps the other buildings' peculiarly colored brick exteriors. Even the Georgian Terrace's elaborate dining room with the original revolving door circa 1911 can't match the elegance of a starry sky as seen during a Fox Theatre intermission.

The three buildings are joined by one busy intersection where it's almost impossible to turn left. Like stately old women in rocking chairs, the fanciful constructs sit comfortably, nestled in history between Midtown's four most famous corners.


TRANSPORTATION: The block is easily accessed by way of the North Avenue MARTA Station (404-848-5000, Bus routes No. 2, 101 (Atlanta Tourist Loop Midtown) and 110 also service the Peachtree-Ponce intersection. From I-75/85, head east on North Avenue to Peachtree Street.

HOUSING: Despite its history, prices for the Ponce Condominiums are comparable to the surrounding areas. Six of the building's units currently are listed and range from $150,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bath unit to $569,000 for a three-bedroom, three-bathroom condo, which takes up half a floor. A night in a one-bedroom suite with a kitchen at the Georgian Terrace goes for $149 a night.

NEIGHBORHOOD HIGHLIGHTS: The Fox Theatre (660 Peachtree St., 404-881-2100) may be the area's big draw, but good eats and trendy seats surround the cultural mecca. Euro-style lounge Bazzaar (654 Peachtree St., 404-885-7505) hosts concert-goers for before- and after-show drinks on its cushy couches. Not far away, the elegant Eno (800 Peachtree St., 404-685-3191) is becoming one of the city's favorite wine bars, and is well within walking distance of the Georgian Terrace for tipsy hotel guests. Down the street, Gladys Knight & Ron Winan's Chicken and Waffles (529 Peachtree St., 404-874-9393) is a carb-filled haven.

Editor's note:  A previous version of this story mistakenly identified the site of Gone With the Wind’s 1939 premiere.

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