Category Archives: Emory places

Into the Woods

Just down the hill from the Miller-Ward Alumni House, on Houston Mill Road, is the entrance to Hahn Woods, formally known as the T. Marshall Hahn Commemorative Forest.

Hahn Woods parking lot
The parking lot at Hahn Woods.

This Emory landmark came to mind last week when I learned of the passing of the man for whom the woods are named—T. Marshall Hahn Jr., Emory trustee emeritus and former CEO of Georgia-Pacific. Among his achievements were a PhD in physics from MIT at the age of 23 and appointment at the age of 35 to the presidency of Virginia Tech, which he built into a research university during his tenure from 1962 to 1974. His obituary from the Roanoke (Va.) Times is here. Marshall had served as chair of the Emory trustees’ Investment Committee and a member of the Executive Committee until his elevation to emeritus status at age 70 in 1997. He blended academic aspiration and business acumen in an extraordinary way.

Hahn Woods is well worth a visit. A stroll along its paths not only leads into a literal grove of academe but also introduces something of the area’s history.

Hahn Woods marker

This 4.7-acre preserve was part of a 60-acre parcel that the university acquired from the owners of the Houston Mill House in 1960. In the succeeding decades Emory covered over a pasture and a swimming pool with construction debris, creating a landfill.

Hahn Woods meadow
The meadow at Hahn Woods formerly was used by Emory as a dump for construction debris. Before Emory acquired the land from the Harry Carr family, in 1960, a swimming pool had been on the site.

In 1993, through a partnership with Georgia-Pacific, which sought to honor its retiring CEO, the university began reclaiming the site as a teaching area for environmental preservation—an effort dear to Marshall’s interests.

Entering the woods from the parking lot, you have a choice between an upper trail, leading past the meadow, or a lower trail that skirts the creek.

Hahn Woods path
The beginning of the lower trail in Hahn Woods

Washington Jackson Houston (pronounced HOUSE-ton) chose this site along the South Fork of Peachtree Creek for his mill, for which the nearby road is named. Houston acquired the property in 1842 from his father, Dr. Chapmon Powell, who had settled in the Decatur area in the 1820s and is buried with his wife and other family members in the cemetery on Emory’s Clairmont Campus.

Houston built a dam in the ravine to the east of the road.

Houston Mill dam
Houston Mill dam today

Just downstream stand the remains of a single-lane bridge that once carried traffic on Houston Mill Road across the creek. This iron bridge was replaced by a concrete bridge in 1952—the same concrete bridge still used by hundreds of commuters daily.

Houston Mill old bridge
The remains of Washington Jackson Houston’s iron bridge.

Pillars mark the path leading past the dam.

Hosuton Mill stone pillars

Around 1900 Houston converted his mill operations from grinding grist to generating electricity.

In the 1920s Harry Carr acquired the property and resumed grist milling. He built his Houston Mill House in 1925—the same year that Walter Candler developed his Lullwater estate half a mile upstream. Following Carr’s death in 1958—again, coincidentally, the year Emory acquired Lullwater—Emory in 1960 negotiated the purchase of the property from his widow with the provision that she be permitted to live in the house until her death. She died in 1976.

Hahn Woods lower trail
The lower trail, looking upstream toward the bend to the parking lot at Hahn Woods.

Hahn Woods now hides a lot of history but still retains traces of the past on which Emory’s campus has been built.

Gary Hauk

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End of an era

September 21, 2016, will mark sixty years since the most damaging fire in Emory’s history—a conflagration that began in the Administration Building’s fourth-floor offices of public relations and development (aren’t they always trying to set people on fire for Emory?) It was a Friday morning in 1956, little more than a year since the building had been dedicated.

Admin Bldg fire 1956
North end of Administration Building, now adjacent to White Hall, as it burned on September 21, 1956.

Most of the fourth floor suffered smoke damage, but all of the roof burned. A few days later Hurricane Flossie blew through Atlanta and poured rain onto the fourth floor.

President's office, 9.21.56
Firefighters clean up the president’s suite after the fire on September 21, 1956.

All this came to mind because, six decades after the building was dedicated, in 1955, the first major renovation of the board room is under way.

Here are trustees in the room after a meeting sometime in 1956-57. Not exactly a happy-looking group. Not very diverse, either, except for the shades of their suits.

Bowden Board Room 1956
Emory Board of Trustees in the Administration Building board room, circa 1957.

The man seated fourth from the left is Goodrich C. White, Emory’s president at the time. To his left sits Charles Howard Candler, chair of the board, who would die in October 1957. His successor would be Henry Bowden, the tall man standing seventh from the left in the back row. Twenty-two years later, Bowden’s service as board chair would be honored by the naming of the board room for him on his retirement from service.

Bowden Board Room plaque

Over the years grew the tradition of commissioning oil portraits of presidents and board chairs on their retirement from office. Soon the walls became crowded. And people noticed that the galaxy of stars around the room was no more representative of the university demographics than that 1957 photograph of the board.

Here is the board room in 2015, from two different angles. The top photo shows (left to right) Presidents Cox, White, and Atwood. The bottom photo shows (left to right) board chairs Asa and Charles Candler, Bowden, Robert Strickland, and Brad Currey. Not visible, on the left in the bottom photo, are portraits of Presidents Laney and Chace.

Bowden Board Room portraits

This summer the room will be renovated to bring it technologically into the 21st century and update its furnishings and walls. The portraits will be re-installed in spaces and buildings that bear the names of the portraits’ subjects (except for Strickland and Currey, whose portraits will go to the Rose Library).

Meanwhile, here’s the Bowden Board Room stripped and waiting its new garb. The bottom photo shows the space where the board sat for its photo in 1957.

400 empty 3400 empty 2

More later, when the renovation is complete.

Gary Hauk

 

Emory Village As It Was

Many doubters (including me) thought the creation of a roundabout in Emory Village, in 2011, would lead to confusion or disaster. Happily, the new traffic pattern works so well that it leaves us wishing for more such circles throughout Atlanta.

There was a time when getting from the campus to, say, Everybody’s, the pizza joint of legend, meant jay walking or precisely syncing your sprint with the changing light at the five-point intersection. Either was a risk.

Emory Village 1940s
Emory Village, looking across from the campus gate, circa 1945. Everybody’s would later occupy the building in the center.

Emory folks of a certain age remember fabled Village establishments like the cinema and Horton’s. When I arrived at Emory in 1983, as a graduate student, Horton’s was still in business, and would be for another year or so. A sign in the window said, “If we don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

Horton's Shop N' Basket
Horton’s — now the home of Chipotle, Romeo’s Pizza, and Yogli-Mogli.
Horton's
Horton’s had everything you needed and a lot you didn’t.

The cinema, part of the wing of businesses along South Oxford — about where Saba now stands — burned while Animal House was playing, in 1978, according to Druid Hills native John Mills 87Ox 89C. Seems fitting in a way, though Gone With the Wind would have done as well.

Emory Village cinema
Sandwiches and pizza are still staples of Emory Village. Cinema, not so much.

Once home to two grocery stores, Emory Village hangs on to Shields Meat Market (sharing with CVS the building formerly occupied by the nation’s smallest Kroger), but the dance studio, dental office, watch repair, hardware store, lending library, and florist shops of yore (October 1948 Emory Alumnus) are long gone.

Three gas stations competed through the decades, but the last of them closed a few years ago.

Emory Village 1960s
Standard Oil became a Chevron station and is now out of business, awaiting a buyer.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have Zesto’s back?Emory Village Zesto's

Gary Hauk

Love at first photo op

Dateline: Church School Building Fellowship Hall, April 12, 1956 —

The four years in Emory College had challenged Clint Rodgers, but he had done well. Emory’s Air Force ROTC had prepared him for a career flying jets. His major in Spanish had satisfied his delight in language. So here he was, weeks away from picking up his diploma at the Emory Commencement exercises in the Church School Amphitheater.

Meanwhile, there was work to do in the Language Lab, in old Fishburne Hall (where the Goizueta Business School now stands). He tutored students, set up instruction tapes, and plied his expertise in Spanish. Leaving the lab one April day, he turned to make his way to the Church School Building. There, Emory faculty would mingle with the best language students from each Atlanta-area high school, who had been invited to “Language Day” to learn  more about the university.

As he set out, Clint encountered two young women who were lost. Did he know where the Language Day program was being held? Why, yes he did, and he was headed that way himself. He’d be happy to accompany them.

One of those young women was Susan Russell, a student at Girls’ High School in Atlanta. Clint and Susan sat together at the program, and a friendship bloomed. Then a romance. And then marriage. After her freshman year at Emory–during which Clint worked while awaiting an Air Force commission–they tied the knot and headed to Lackland Air Force Base for their honeymoon.

But it all began at Language Day.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 8.40.01 AM
Language Day, April 12, 1956. Clint Rodgers and Susan Russell are shown in circle. Judson C. “Jake” Ward, then dean of Emory College, is seated fifth from the left in front. This room, in the Church School Building, is now named for Ward, who taught Sunday School there for 50 years.

 

 

 

Humble hospital origins

As a nine-story tower rises across Clifton Road from Harris Hall, I’m reminded of the Calico House.

The J Wing, as this new tower is called, is the latest addition to Emory University Hospital and will house 210 beds, new operating rooms, new ICUs, and a larger emergency department.

Hospital J Wing
Architect’s rendering of Emory University Hospital J Wing

The J designation means it follows wings A through H, all of which which were constructed during seven decades across the street and up the block from the new tower. (The letter I was skipped.)

The first of those earlier wings—A and B—were built in 1922 and at that time were named Wesley Memorial Hospital. You can see the façade of the A wing here:

Emory University Hospital

Here’s another look, circa 1922. The A and B wings, clad by construction scaffolding, appear in the upper-right corner against the edge of the photo.

Druid Hills campus 1922

The vast complex that now constitutes Emory University Hospital had its beginning in an antebellum house on the southeast corner of Auburn Avenue and Courtland Street, where the Auburn Avenue Research Library now stands. Called the Calico House, because of the fashionable patterns on its interior walls, it served as the headquarters for General Sherman after the Battle of Atlanta and before the Union army decamped for the coast. Here is an early-20th-century photo of the Calico House:

Calico House

When the Methodists of north Georgia resolved, in 1903, to build a new hospital, they decided to locate it in Atlanta but soon ran into fund-raising difficulties. Coca-Cola’s Asa Candler, a devout Methodist, came to the rescue and bought the Calico House for use as that hospital, which the Methodists called Wesley Memorial Hospital. It housed fifty beds, had a medical staff of thirty-four doctors, and offered a training program for nurses (the forerunner of Emory’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing).

With the Emory School of Medicine functioning in Druid Hills after 1917, the hospital was moved to the A and B wings in December 1922. Twenty-five patients in the former Calico House were driven to the new hospital in ambulances provided by Atlanta’s funeral homes. The hospital was renamed Emory University Hospital in 1932 and has grown with the university.

Gary Hauk

Amazing how things have changed . . .

This year Emory is observing the centennial of its university charter (replacing the 1836 charter as a college) and celebrating a hundred years of making Atlanta its home town. How to measure change at a place during a century? There are many ways, but one is to look at some numbers at the beginning, midway, and now.

For instance, in 1915 Emory conferred 148 degrees; in 1964-65, 1,136; in 2015, more than 4,600.

In 1915 there were 61 members of the faculty, including 16 in Emory College, which was still in Oxford. There were no endowed professorships. By 1965 the faculty had grown to 200, with twelve endowed Charles Howard Candler Professors and three or four other endowed chairs. This year there are more than 3,000 full-time faculty members, about half of them in the School of Medicine. Nearly 200 faculty members hold endowed professorships.

In 1915 the enrollment of the entire university was 631 students; in 1965 that number had grown to 5,844; this year it is 14,769, with students hailing from more than a hundred countries.

One literally concrete measure of what has happened at Emory since 1965 is all the facilities that did not exist or were not owned by Emory fifty years ago. Here is Emory as it is today.

Emory in 2015

This  map of the main Atlanta campus does not include the Briarcliff property and, of course, the historic and still vibrant campus at Oxford.

Here is the same map indicating all the buildings that Emory has added since 1965.

What's been built since 1965

All of those yellow shapes are buildings that did not exist in 1965. No wonder alumni sometimes don’t recognize the place when they return! If I printed the list here the names of the buildings would number more than fifty—more than one building a year for the past 50 years. And this does not include the new library, science center, and three new residence halls at Oxford (and the new dining hall under way there), or the nine-story hospital bed tower going up on Clifton Road, or the renovation (sometimes twice) of everything that previously existed on both campuses.

What these maps highlight is the increase in scholarly activity, teaching activity, and social activity that makes a university a university.

I’ll include more measures of change in future posts.

Gary Hauk