Photo Essay #3: Smyrna’s Old Downtown

The following images of Smyrna’s Old Downtown are arranged in approximate chronological order.  Smyrna’s downtown was largely demolished in the 1989-90 period to allow for the widening of traffic choked Atlanta Road. Please bear in mind that the age of the buildings pictured here cannot be established with absolute certainty in every instance. Nor is this a complete collection. It is hoped that more images will be added over time. If any reader has access to additional pictures of downtown landmarks, or can offer details as to the age of any of the buildings, please send that information along so that appropriate alterations can be made.WPM

Part 1: Before 1940

6.The gateway Entrance to the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery

The Gateway entrance to the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery. This graveyard on Memorial Drive was laid out by the Methodists on the land that was part of the Smyrna Campground. The graveyard stood adjacent to the original Methodist Church building, constructed in 1846. The cemetery is said to date from 1838, but the oldest grave dates from 1846, the year that the first Methodist Church was constructed at this location. The gateway was constructed in the 1960s, with donations solicited by Smyrna’s first historian Mazie Whitfield Nelson.

11. Mazie Whitfield Nelson at Memorial Cemetery Gateway dedication 10-14-65, p. 1

 

17.Mobley family at Sedgefield c. 1885 redo

Sedgefield Estate, the home of E.D.L Mobley, a member of Smyrna’s first city government.  The photograph dates from the early 1880s, but Mobley was raised here. Thus the house is almost certainly an ante-bellum structure.  This is the only image of a pre-Civil War structure that stood in the area of the old downtown known to exist. Sedgefield Estate comprised nearly 17 acres, extending from the north side of West Spring Street (today’s Market Village) to the vicinity of the Smyrna Police Station. Most of Smyrna’s major government buildings now sit on this acreage. Mobley was a realtor with offices in Atlanta. He commuted to his office daily by train.

1a.Map of Downtown Smyrna - 1872

An 1872 map of Smyrna’s downtown, produced in the same year that the small city was officially incorporated by the State Legislature. At that point few buildings existed in the downtown area: the Smyrna Academy building, the Methodist Church (rebuilt in 1869, having been burned during the Civil War), and the recently constructed Smyrna Depot (also dating from 1869) were the only major structures in the downtown Smyrna of that day.

22. Smyrna High School in Academy Building

The Smyrna Academy building as it appeared after its conversion to use as a public school. While the building is labeled “Smyrna High School”, it in fact, accommodated all grades.

The 1882 Methodist Church

A pencil drawing of the 1882 Methodist Church, situated adjacent to the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery, the building which which replaced the earlier 1846 and 1869 Methodist Churches. This is the building that will later be converted into the Smyrna Hotel and moved to the edge of Atlanta Road adjacent to the D.C. Osborne Garage.

7. 1884 First Baptist Church

The First Baptist Church, dating from 1884, stood on Atlanta Road at the northern corner corner of Powder Springs Street. A 1924 fire destroyed this building, whereupon the congregation moved to a lot at the corner of King and Church Streets.

22. Mr. Mizell's School, 1895, first floor of old Masonic LOdge bulding, on site of Second Baptist Church, corner of Atlanta Road and Powder Springs StreetLegg Hall stood at the southern corner of Atlanta Road and Powder Springs Street adjacent to the 1884 Baptist Church. It was used for a variety of purposes, as a meeting place for the Nelm’s Masonic Lodge, and as a school house. Here we see a class taught by Mr. Mizell at this location in 1895.

Pace Family Reunion, 1900

A Pace Family Reunion in 1900.  The Pace Homestead stood on the east side of Atlanta Road opposite the Church Street intersection, on land that now forms part of the Jonquil Plaza. The gentleman with the hat on his lap in the front row, John T. Pace, was the first of three Pace family members who served as Mayor of Smyrna, John T. Pace.

1c. The Whitfield Store on the east side of Atlanta Road in downtown Smyrna copyThe downtown did not begin to experience significant commercial development until the after the Civil War. An 1873 article in an Atlanta paper identified four stores as existing in downtown Smyrna at that juncture.  The largest commercial building constructed in downtown Smyrna (a two story Italianate structure) was the Whitfield General Store, dating from the 1880s, which stood on the east side of Atlanta Road and backed up to the railroad tracks. The photo dates from 1912.

1ca. Whitfield Grocery Store, downtown Smyrna, SH 12-12-63, p. 2-bThis newspaper clipping identifies the figures standing in front of the Whitfield General Store in the above 1912 photograph.

W.N. Pace StoreThe W.N. Pace General Store stood at the southeast corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring Street. 

1ab. 1907 Smyrna DepotjpegThe 1907 Smyrna Depot stood on the tracks at East Spring Street, just north of the present Smyrna Museum Building, which replicates its appearance.

45. Pearl Springs Cannery Building

With a decline in the market value of cotton just after the turn of the 20th century, local agricultural production shifted to more profitable crops. Orchard products and berries took up the slack. Cobb County became a major producer of peaches. An 80 acre peach orchard was laid out on land just south of Spring Street and the Pearl Springs Cannery was established on West Spring Street in  1908 to process these new crops.  Unfortunately, no contemporary image of the cannery is known to exist, but the building this large building was later converted into a headquarters for the Smyrna Police, and appears above.

Gautschey HouseThe Henry Gautschy House, built about 1908, to accommodate a distillery owner who had been displaced by the State of Georgia’s adoption of statewide prohibition. This Rhenish style residence was one of the first homes in Smyrna to be provided with indoor plumbing and electricity. It constructed of concrete blocks manufactured at the site of Mr. Gautschy’s former distillery, later the Bennett Farm, at the corner of Concord and King Springs Roads.

1ja. The Konigsmarks (Henry Sr. and Alma Reed) and their sonsHenry, Jr. & Reed)The Konigsmark residence and adjacent coal yard stood on the east side of Atlanta Road, immediately north of the Pace House on land that now forms part of the Jonquil Plaza.  Here we see Henry and Alma Konigsmark and their children on the grounds of their home, opposite the 1911 Smyrna Methodist Church.  The Coal yard sat just south of the residence.

1e.The handsome 1911 United Methodist Church building, situated at the northwest cormer of Alanta Road and Church Street, at the southern end of the old downtownThe 1911 United Methodist Church building was situated at the northwest Corner of Atlanta Road and Church Street.

1d. Bank of Smyrna 1911The 1911 First Bank of Smyrna building was intuited at the northwest corner of Atlanta Road and Bank Street. Bank Street originally intersected Atlanta Road. Originally Ireland Avenue, the name of the street was changed to Bank Street at that time. The bank went out of business in 1926 and the structure later served as Smyrna’s City Hall for a time.

1ga. Cleanup on August 7, 1915 following a fire near the corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring StreetScanIn 1915 a fire destroyed a structure that stood just south of the W.N. Pace General Store, pictured above.

1b. Atlanta Road at Memorial Place in downtown Smyrna, with D.C. Osborne's Service Station in the foreground, c. 1915A circa 1920 view of the intersection of Atlanta Road and Memorial Place. Notice Roger’s Grocery Store on the extreme left and The D.C. Osborne Garage in the triangle formed by the intersection at the center of the p[hotograph.

7. Parishioners entering First Baptist Church, 1924 copyIn 1924, following a fire that destroyed the 1884 First Baptist Church (see above) a new Baptist Church was built by the congregation at the northeast intersection of King and Church Streets.

1ba. Rogers Grocery Store interiorThe interior of Roger’s Grocery Store in the 1930s

22. Smyrna Elementary School 1925

Smyrna provided itself with a state-of-the-art new school building at considerable expense in 1920. Unfortunately it was extensively damaged by fire in 1924, but was immediately rebuilt. That structure, pictured here, stood on the west side of King Street opposite the present First Baptist Church. 

1. Smyrna City Hall 1920s and 30s

This building, indicative of the small scale of municipal government, served as Smyrna’s City Hall in the 1920s and 1930s.

1l. D. C. Osborne's Garage, Downtown SmyrnaAnother view of the D. C. Osborne garage taken from the Memorial Place end of the property, c. 1925. About 1920 Atlanta Road was incorporated into the Dixie Highway, one of the nation’s first interstate roadways, linking Florida to Detroit. An increase in the volume of traffic through Smyrna followed. By the 1930s there were seven auto repair shops and filling stations in downtown Smyrna.

9. D. C. Osborne at the Smyrna GarageAnother view of D. C. Osborne’s Garage, with the owner standing in front. Mr. Osborne served on the Smyrna City Council in the 1930s. The building just beyond the Osborne garage, with the pillared portico, is the Smyrna Hotel, the converted 1883 Methodist Church, which catered to tourists passing through Smyrna on the Dixie Highway.

1la.Osbornes Garage (improved) cefx crNotably two of the five figures in this photo are African-Americans. Photographs of blacks were few and far between in this period.

5.Paces drug store cefx cr.(improved)jpgPace’s Drug Store occupied the site on Atlanta Road near East Spring Street. Dr. Pace served as Mayor of Smyrna in 1912 and also represented the area in the Georgia State Legislature. Here occurred an incident involving Dr. Westbrook, the pharmacist pictured here, a challenge to racial segregation by returning World War I African American veterans that is described in detail in my book “A Brief History of Smyrna, Georgia.”Stone Geenraal StoreJohn Stone’s General Store at the corner of Atlanta Road and Sunset Avenue, probably in the 1940s. The store had existed for some years prior to that date, but the precise date  is uncertain. Sunset Avenue, which was on the line of the present Village Green, no longer exists.

8a. Smyrna Women's Club (first library), 1936The Smyrna Women’s Club was chartered in 1925. In 1925 this active club bought a residence on the west side of Atlanta Road at the southeast corner of Powder Springs Street as a headquarters. In 1936 the clubhouse also housed a public library, which was supported during its first 25 years chiefly by private donations. The doorway to the right side of the building gave access to this modest library. Only in 1961 did the City of Smyrna provide itself with a purpose-built library structure on King Street. (see below)

18. Atlanta Northern Railroad Company buildin: Georgia Power Streetcar Substation

The Streetcar Depot in Downtown Smyrna, situated on the east side of Atlanta Road a short distance north of the East Spring Street intersection.

1hac.Smyrna Water Tower next to West Spring Street Fire Station

Until the late 1920s, Smyrna residents depended on private wells for their water supply, a dependence that led to shortages during periods of drought, and that no doubt contributed to periodical outbreaks of disease.  This problem was temporarily resolved in 1927-28 during the mayoralty of Patrick Edwards, when two deep wells were dug on the south side of Roswell Street, in what is now the Williams Park neighborhood, and a conduit constructed to carry an enhanced public water supply to a storage tank located just west of the Memorial Cemetery near King Street. This tower cost $2,800 to construct, at a time when the city’s annual budget was less than $10,000. With the rapid expansion of Smyrna’s population in the 1940s and 50s, this water supply system proved inadequate, and other measures were taken to provide an adequate water supply for the expanding city. The abandoned Smyrna Water Tower was finally dismantled in 1984. The building in the foreground is the Smyrna Fire Station.1hab. The Smyrna Water Tower stood behind the Memorial Cemetery adjacent to King Street

An hand-drawn illustration of the Smyrna Water Tower.

Smyrna City Hall, 1933-59, coverted First Bank of Smyrna buildingSmyrna City Hall, 1933-59.  This building, at the northwest corner of Bank Street and Atlanta Road, had originally housed the First Bank of Smyrna during the period 1911 to 1926.  It was extensively renovated in 1933 to accommodate Smyrna’s city government.

Interior Smyrna Post Office 1933 Atlanta Rd. next to City Hall

Postmaster Zeland Wills in 1933.  The post office was located on Atlanta Road next to City Hall. In 1933 there was no home delivery. Residents had to pick up their mail at the post office.

1p. J. D. Daniel's Red Dot StoreJ.D. Daniel’s Red Dot Store at the corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring Street just west of the 1907 Smyrna Depot, c. 1935

1gb. Black & Webb store with Streetcar at East Spring Street, 1946

A North Atlanta & Marietta streetcar in front of the Webb & Black Grocery Store at the corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring Street. This line connecting downtown Atlanta to Marietta Square via Smyrna operated from 1905 to 1947, and did much to stimulate the growth of Smyrna before the Great Depression set in in 1929. Black & Webb occupied the same site as the W.N. Pace General Store, and the dimensions and roof line of the building suggest that it was a remodeled version of the same building.

1h. Interior Black & Webb StoreAn interior view of the Black & Webb Grocery Store, probably from the 1940s.

The Smyrna Trolley Depot, located on the east side of Atlanta Road, a short distance north of the of the East Spring Street intersection, is shown here as it looked after its conversion to other uses. The date of its construction is uncertain, but it

20. 1936 Overview Downtown SmyrnaA birds-eye view of Downtown Smyrna in 1936

G.B.'s PlaceG.B.’s Place Restaurant, situated on the north side of East Spring Street, was founded in 1937

Nelms Residence, Church and Atlanta Road, 1937

In the background of this photo one sees the Nelms House at the southeast corner of Church and King Streets, a ten room residence constructed by Dr. John Nelms in 1895. This house burned shortly after this photograph was taken in 1937.

18. Smyrna High School on King Street corner of Stephens Street, constructed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA)Here we see the first purpose-built Smyrna High School building, constructed in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The building, which still stands and is now part of the First Baptist Church complex, is located at the intersection of King and Stephens Streets.

20. Henry Konigsmark and assocoate inspects trashy lot north of the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery for the Smyrna Men's Club, 1939

Dr. G.C. Green (left) and Henry Konigsmark survey a lot just north of the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery in 1939 as a cleanup project for the Smyrna Men’s Club. The building across Atlanta Road to the left the Glover Service Station would later house the Walker Motor Company (see below) and stood on the site now occupied by the Smyrna History Museum.

1i. The Smyrna Jail

The Smyrna Jail on West Spring Street in 1940.

Part 2: After 1940

6.Bank of Smyrna-1The Second Bank of Smyrna, new building, 1946

13. Presbyterian Church

The Smyrna Presbyterian Church on Memorial Place, dating from 1913, across the street from the Smyrna Memoroal Cemetery, as remodeled in 1948.

Walker Motor Company, Atlanta Road, near the site of the Smyrna Museum, 1948Walker Motor Company, Atlanta Road, founded in 1948, near the site now occupied by the Smyrna History Museum.

9. Jonquil movie TheaterThe Jonquil Movie Theater, established in 1948, which stood on Sunset Avenue near the southwest corner of Atlanta Road.

20. Fouts Service Station, ne corner Atlanta Road and East Spring StreetFouts Brothers Service Station at the northeast corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring Street, established in 1948.

20. Dr. Mitchell's Building, built in 1948, north side of Sunset AvenueDr. W. C. Mitchell’s Medical Office, constructed in 1948 at the Corner of Sunset Avenue.

 

Colonial Store Supermarket, Bank St.

Colonial Store Supermarket, Bank Street, 1951. Notice the building on the right under construction, Howard Hardware (see below).

17. Johnson's Shoe Repair shop owned by Hubert JohnsonHubert Johnson’s unique shoe shop on the west side of Atlanta Road in the downtown, where shoes were piled so high that customers had to go through the shop sideways.

20.H.R. Johnson Shoe Shop SN 2-19-76, p. 11Shoemaker Hubert Johnson at work.

 

Map of downtown Smyrna from the Georgia Tech Survey, July 1952

Map of downtown Smyrna, dating from July 1952, taken from the “A Survey of the City of Smyrna, Georgia Tech’s Planning Study No. 13.

20. Davis Department Store, Atlanta Road at Spring St.Davis Department Store, corner of Atlanta Road and East Spring Street, which existed from 1951 to 1959.

 

20. Georgia Power Store, North Atlanta Street, 1953Georgia Power building, North Atlanta Street, c. 1953

20. Howard Hardware, Bank Street, 1953Howard Hardware, Bank Street, c. 1953

20. Smyrna Plumbing & HeatingSmyrna Plumbing and Heating, c. 195320. Rose's Fashion Shop, 103 Atlanta St., 1953Rose’s Fashion Shop, c. 1953

20. Smyrna Builders Supply, Spring StreetSmyrna’s Builders Supply, East Spring Street, c. 1953

20. Reed Realty Company, east side of Atlanta RoadReed Realty Office, Atlanta Road south of the East Spring Street intersection, c. 1953.

8. Campbell High School Marching Band, 1953, passing by corner of Atlanta Road and West Spring Street (current Market Village entryway)Campbell High School Marching Band on Atlanta Street passing West Spring Street in 1953.

Crowd in front of Atherton DrugIn 1953 a crowd almost 4,000 Smyrna residents turned out for a Grand Remodeling Sale at Atherton Drug Store, which was located on the western side of Atlanta Road, near City Hall.

14.Downtown Smyrna, east side, as it appeared in the 1950s

Downtown Smyrna, east side, looking north, 1956. Note should be taken of the old Whitfield General Store at the center of the image. Notice also the volume of traffic on Atlanta Road, a two-lane highway at that time.

Downtown Smyrna looking south c. 1956Downtown Smyrna looking north, c. 1956.

 

1. Site of Jonquil Plaza 1958Site of the Jonquil Plaza as it looked before the opening of the shopping center, c. 1956. The houses in the background are the Konigsmark and Pace houses.

20. Taxi Service 1956Taxi Service, West  Spring Street, 1956

55b. Grand Opening Jonquil Plaza , 1957.jpg (Marietta Daily Journal)The Grand Opening of the Jonquil Plaza Shopping Center in 1957

Police Station 1958-70Smyrna Police Station, Atlanta at Bank Street (old bank building reconversion), 1958-70

20. Atkins Grocery Store,, corner of Bank & Atlanta Rd.Interior of Atkins Grocery Store, corner of Bank Street and Atlanta Road

20.Anchor Service Station in downtown SmyrnaAnchor Service Station, late 1950s, located in the triangle created by Atlanta Road and Memorial Drive

Smyrna City HallSmyrna city Hall, 1959-1996Smyrna City Hall, 1959-1996, King Street

20. The 1961 Smyrna Public Library building on KIng StreetSmyrna’s first purpose-built public library building was constructed on the south side of King Street south of the Smyrna Memorial Cemetery in 1961.

27. 1961 library alteredThe Smyrna Library as it appeared about 1975, after having undergone a facelift

20. Proposed new look for Atkins Pharmacy SN 1970Proposed new look for Atkins Drug, 1970. Various proposals were made in 1970 to redesign the storefronts in the downtown in a Williamsburg style.

20. TV Analysts Store, W. Spring St. and Atlanta RdTV Analysts Store, located at the corner of West Spring Streeet and Atlanta Road, 1974.  This building took the place of several smaller stores, including Rogers Grocery Store and Hubert Johnson’s Shoe Repair. Note the Smyrna Water Tower in the background. 

 

4.Atlanta Road in 1978, SN 10-2-78, p. 1The West side of Atlanta Road in Downtown Smyrna in 1978.

20. Downtown Smyrna c. 1960 (Bill Atkins interview) SN 1-18-90, p. 2a

In an interview State Representative Bill Atkins, who owned and operated a store in the downtown for many years, and afterward purchased Atherton Drug, renaming it Atkins Drug Store, emphasized the former commercial vitality of the downtown and expressed regret at its demolition.

9. Downtown Smyrna, west side, as it appeared in the 1950s copyDowntown Smyrna west side, 1980s.

20.Save Ols Smyrna (SOS) SN 4-24-80, p 3aSave Old Smyrna (SOS) organization, 1980, includes future Mayor Max Bacon

 

2 thoughts on “Photo Essay #3: Smyrna’s Old Downtown

  1. Frank Wheeler

    I came to the area in the mid 60s and thankfully a lot of the old town was still in use.I fell in love with place and although my work took me elsewhere several times, I always returned. My children went through the Smyrna school system and eventually graduated from Osborne, which I consider Smyrna. I am posting the link on my wall so that local friends can see and enjoy it like I have.

    Like

  2. Greg Petty

    My Grandfather, Emory Chastain, moved the family from the family farm in Kennesaw to Smyrna in the winter of 1940 right after my mother’s birth. The Smyrna home place sat on a track of land off Spring St at Jonquil. I’m uncertain how much property he originally owned, but I do know the property ran west toward the railroad tracks/Jonquil Plaza area and south toward the now Emory Ln/ Corn Rd area. The family ran a nursery there in Smyrna and also farmed the property in Kennesaw off of what is now Chastain Rd. They devolped some of the Smyrna property building the residential homes off of Emory Lane. Mother is number 9 of 11 children and graduated from Campbell HS in 58. As a child I remember frequenting the drug store fountain at Jonquil Plaza and browsing all the stores at Belmont Hills which was a shopping mecca at the time.

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