The Atlanta Constitution Building is a a five storey building located on the corner of Alabama Street and Forsyth Street in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The building in downtown Atlanta is located in an area known as the Heart of Atlanta given its proximity to the zero mile post. It straddles The Gulch, an area in which the Southeastern terminus of the Western and Atlantic railroad and the city’s earliest settlement were located.
It was built in 1947 for the Atlanta Constitution newspaper and housed state of the art office and printing facilities at the time of its construction and was considered one of the most innovatively designed newspaper headquarters in the country at the time. The building was designed by Atlanta based Robert and Company and cost $3 million to construct.
WCON, a radio station owned by the Atlanta Constitution, occupied the top floor with retail space on the bottom. A TV station, WCON-TV, also had a presence in the building. Newspaper activity occupied the rest of the facility and at the time, the Atlanta Constitution was going through a post-war period of growth which saw growth in the number of people working for the company.
The Atlanta Constitution was founded when Carey Wentworth Styles and his partners, James Anderson and William Hemphill purchased a small newspaper called the Atlanta Daily which they renamed The Constitution. It was first published on 16 June 1868. It became The Atlanta Constitution in October 1969. Styles was forced to to surrender his interest in the paper to Anderson and Hemphill after a deal to sell his holdings in an Albany newspaper failed to materialise. In 1876, Captain Evan Howell purchased 50% of the paper and by 1902, he and his family owned 100%. Joel Chandler Harris began writing for the paper in 1876, creating the character of Uncle Remus, a black storyteller who told folktales during the time of slavery in the American South. He was to be adapted for Disney’s Song of the South which has seen more than its fair share of controversy in recent years, including the re-theming of Splash Mountain at Disneyland in California and the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Florida following the Black Lives Matter protests.
Upon moving into the new Atlanta Constitution Building in 1947, the company established a radio station, WCON-FM 98.5, and TV station, WCON-TV. Just 3 years later, Cox Enterprises, owners of the Atlanta Journal, bought the Atlanta Constitution and merged the two companies, although both newspapers would retain independent newsrooms for a time. Administration and sales were merged and both the radio and TV station were closed in favour of already successful ones already owned by the Atlanta Journal. It was decided to vacate the Atlanta Constitution Building in 1953, just six years after it had opened. In November 2001, the two papers merged to become one daily morning paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, or AJC for short.
Georgia Power took control of the property and it became known as the Georgia Power Atlanta Division Building. This was also to be short lived and they vacated in 1960. It had various other occupants up until 1972 at which point it was abandoned and has remained vacant ever since.
The building has been put on the National Register of Historic Places due its art moderne architecture. The Georgia Department of Transportation was the owner of the building for a number of years and they had plans to build a passenger terminal for downtown Atlanta which have been discussed at length at various levels. These plans did not come to pass and the building remained in a derelict state. Various bodies campaigned for the building to be saved due to its architectural significance and this seems to be gaining support from locals. There have been calls to use the existing building as part of the rail infrastructure rather than having it demolished and replaced with something new.
The building came to attention in early 2013 when it was the scene of a fire. Many of the homeless population of downtown Atlanta use the building to sleep in during he winter months. A number of city blocks were closed while fire fighters tackled the blaze but no injuries were recorded. It brought the building back into sharp focus for the local agencies who insisted something must be done with the site.
In 2017, Georgia Department of Transportation sold the Atlanta Constitution Building to Pope & Land and Place Properties who plan to redevelop the structure with ground floor retail, rooftop restaurant, office and residential units.