H. B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy
National Register listed : 1997
Leasing Information http://www.lofts-atlanta.com/
Location: 764-772 Marietta Street, Atlanta, Fulton County
Original Builders: H.B.Davis
Period of Significance : 1921 - 1947
Significant Dates : 1921 :Construction of the H.B. Davis Building: 1939 :Hotel Roxy opened in the building
Boundary Justification: The National Boundry for the H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy encompasses the building and remaining historic acreage. It does not include the adjacent modern parking lot associated with the building.
Description of Architectural Classification : OTHER/Stripped
Classical Materials: foundation: brick; walls: brick; roof: asphalt
Photograph above from the Pullen Archives.
Historic Functions: COMMERCE/specialty store DOMESTIC/hotel
Current Functions: DOMESTIC/multiple dwelling
Developmental history/historic context
The land where the H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy stands formed part of the McMillan subdivision which was platted in 1869 by W.B. Bass. The lots along the south side of Marietta Street were numbered 1-6 beginning with the comer of Marietta and Ponders Alley, an indication this was considered the prime property of the subdivision. The H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy occupies the western half of lot #3 and all of lots #4 and #5. According to deed records, McMillan sold 764 Marietta in 1872, 766-68 Marietta in 1875 and 770-72 Marietta in 1871. The original lots had a 60 foot frontage on Marietta Street. They were soon divided into 30-foot lots, and were sold and resold in various combinations. By the time Davis bought them, 764 Marietta comprised the west half of lot #3, 766 Marietta comprised the east half of lot #4, and 768-72 Marietta comprised the west half of lot #4 and all of lot #5. The lots changed hands many times during those 50 years, and only a few of the land owners lived and worked on their properties. The Stegall family owned 764-66 Marietta from 1901 to 1911, and appears to have resided for part of the time in the dwelling on that property. During the same period, John N. Patrick and his wife Emma owned and operated a millinery establishment at 768-72 Marietta.
The 1892 Sanborn Map depicts an area of some residential development, with stores already located on most of the corners, foreshadowing the development of the street as a commercial area. The 1899 Sanborn Map shows no changes to the property at 764-72 Marietta; however the two story store shown at 782-84 Marietta has already been the residence/store of the Davis family for four years. The Atlanta City Directory for 1895 shows Thomas C. Davis residing at 782 1/2 Marietta (the second floor) and the H.B. Davis dry goods store at 784 Marietta. By 1911, another residence has appeared at 786 Marietta, but the street is clearly becoming commercial in nature.
The H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy was constructed in 1921 by Davis as evidenced by the date stone and building permit. The stores on the first floor rented well. Davis, a meticulous record keeper, and his wife, Mary Ethel, carefully preserved family records and other important documents. Davis' 1922 records show his first tenants as E.R. Bates & Co., a grocery store; L.W. Rogers, a grocery store; and King Hardware. By the end of 1922, all but one of the stores were rented. In addition to the first floor stores, Davis had provided office space on the second story, with the intention of leasing it to doctors and dentists. The third floor would be finished if the rental business justified the completion. However, that never happened, at least not during H.B. Davis' lifetime. That section of Marietta Street developed primarily as a shopping rather than a business area, and Horace Davis was never able to keep his second floor rooms rented for more than a year or two at a time.
The 1924 Sanborn Map shows the south side of Marietta Street had become a commercial area with dwellings replaced by one- and two-story stores. The west end of the block developed more rapidly than the east end and was dominated by the two H.B. Davis enterprises; the dry goods store at 78284 Marietta and the H.B. Davis Building at 764-72 Marietta. By 1932, all the stores along this block of Marietta were two-story, and the area was fully developed as a commercial street serving the nearby residential/industrial area.
The Depression hurt the businesses located in the building. National Furniture Company, a longtime tenant, went bankrupt in 1932, and Davis' next lease brought in only $81.00 a month. The drug store in #770 also went bankrupt, and Davis was forced to reduce the rent received from King Hardware. In addition, there was a fire at #766b, the 5 & 10 cent store. During this time, Davis' health declined and on February 14, 1934 he died. Davis left half interest in his businesses to wife and a quarter interest to each of his sons, Ralph and Winfred. Ralph and his mother continued to operate both the building for a short time. They sold the store to a relative, Claude N. Davis, probably to finance the conversion of the H.B. Davis Building to the Hotel Roxy.
The Hotel Roxy took form in 1939, when Ralph Davis decided to make the unproductive spaces on the second and third floors of the H.B. Davis Building earn some needed income. He converted the offices of the second floor into hotel rooms, adding partitions and two bathrooms, one for ladies and one for gentlemen. The third floor, which had never been used, was also converted into rooms. The third floor was reserved for long-term renters such as railroad men, who were working temporarily in Atlanta without their families. With the influx of construction and other war workers during World War 11, the Hotel Roxy was a busy place. The second floor was run as a regular hotel, for overnight and transient guests. The Hotel Roxy operated until 1954, when the building was purchased from the Davis family by brothers Julius and Harry Goldstein who operated the Sims 5c & 1 Oc Store on the other side of Marietta.
The area began to decline during 1950s. The last electric streetcars ran in 1949, and a combination of the expansion of Georgia Tech, highway construction and urban renewal resulted in the demise of the residential neighborhoods the area depended on for most of its commercial traffic. The closing of the Empire Cotton Mill (?) and the burgeoning suburban shopping centers of the 1950s and 1960s were the final blows. The Sanborn Fire Map of 1932 updated to 1965 serves as a record. While some of the large stores, including the H.B. Davis Building/ Hotel Roxy are still there, parking lots have already taken the place of several buildings, and other gaps have appeared in the once-solid facade of stores. The conversion of the Hotel Roxy into efficiency apartments with retail and restaurant spaces on the first floor and opening of the Engineer Bookstore on the corner of Marietta and Means are efforts to turn this area around again.
Narrative statement of significance (areas of significance)
The H.B. Davis/Hotel Roxy is situated on a large city block fronting Marietta Street in northwest Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia. The H.B. Davis/Hotel Roxy is significant in the areas of architecture and commerce. The building is significant in the area of architecture as an excellent example of a intact early 20th-century commercial building constructed in a predominately commercial section of the city of Atlanta. The H.B. Davis/Hotel Roxy building was built in 1921 as a three-story brick building with Stripped Classical features. The character-defining features include a simple masonry rectangular facade, wide frieze with decorative design in the cornice, and brick pilasters creating seven bays. At the time of its construction, the buildings along Marietta Street were one- or two-story buildings. The three-story yellow brick facade of the H.B. Davis/Hotel Roxy building stood as the dominant building along a developing commercial street, Marietta Street. The 145-foot front (north) facade along Marietta Street gave the building a presence which was unrivaled in the 1920s, and even today remains an imposing building within the streetscape.
The building is significant in the area of commerce for its function as a commercial store and hotel. When Davis built the building in 1921, the block of Marietta Between Means Street (originally Ponders Street) and Bankhead Highway (originally Bellwood Street) was an up-and-coming commercial street. Marietta Street was transitioning from residential to commercial due to the extension of the electric streetcar line down Marietta Street and the construction of the Empire Cotton Mill. The stores in the H.B. Davis building served those living in the nearby blue-collar neighbohood. The Depression forced the closure of some of the stores and the building was sold to a relative of Davis. The second and third floors were remodeled and the building reopened as the Hotel Roxy in 1939. Stores remained on the main floor, the second floor served as a regular hotel, and the third floor was reserved for long-term renters, such as railroad workers.
National Register Criteria
The H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy is eligible under Criterion A for its association with the commercial development of Marietta Street in Atlanta during the early and mid-20th century, and eligible under Criterion C as an excellent example of a three-story brick commercial building with Stripped Classical features.
Description of present and historic physical appearance:
The three-story H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy is the dominant building in this neighborhood of predominantly one- and two-story buildings. It replaced several existing buildings of mixed residential and commercial use. The H.B. Davis Building was built in 1921 at #s 764-772 Marietta Street. This property consisted of 1/2 of lot #3 and all of lots #4 and #5 of the McMillan Subdivision, which was platted in 1869. These were the first lots subdivided by William McMillan, therefore, they must have been seen as choice properties in this area. The building was adapted to function as loft apartments in 1995.
This three-story rectangular building, with a partial basement, was constructed of brick with steel trusses and iron posts. The two upper floors are set back in the rear (south) elevation. The restrained and unified Marietta Street elevation has yellow brick facing with a strong vertical thrust. This is accomplished by the use of decorative brick molding, creating the illusion of pilasters. These are topped with a frieze featuring rectangular horizontal paneling, cast stone diamonds, and a continuous cast stone cornice. The name H.B. Davis and the year 1921 appear in the center of the frieze on a cast stone panel. The yellow brickwork and the traditional three-part composition of base, shaft and capital on the front facade were very representative for its time, but not for its location. One would expect to find this kind of building in a more affluent area.
The ground floor was designed for a multiple-store arrangement. The seven stores had recessed cant entrances, display windows on either side, and large transoms above. The pavement changes from hexagon shaped pavers (a few are still present) to red unglazed quarry tile in the entries. The quarry tile can still be seen in several of the entries. Two of the seven stores still retain the original, or nearly original, configuration. In the remaining five, the recessed doors have been bricked-in and converted into display windows. However, evidence of the original configuration can be read in the bricks and floor treatments. The placement of the 20 windows and seven storefronts is symmetrical and reflects the design grid of the building. The large windows on this (north) side unfortunately are not original, but the size of the openings remain intact.
The rest of the building was constructed of red brick laid in a common bond with six stretcher courses interrupted by one dark header course. The east elevation has no windows as a one-story 5 & 10 Cent Store (Kays) is attached on that side. This elevation also has a painted sign on the brick, which has been retained. The west elevation features nine multi-light, steel, casement windows which are original. Two of these windows are very large and form a prominent feature of this elevation. The projecting first floor of the rear elevation has the windows and doors which provided entrances and some light to the stores. Many of the doors and windows have been retained when the interior space was adapted to apartments.
The ground floor housed seven stores, two of which were 30'and five only 15' wide. All were long, and narrow with natural light provided through the large display windows and transoms. The second floor was originally designed as office space and was adapted for hotel use in 1939. The second floor is accessible via two staircases. One straight closed staircase with a landing entered the building directly from Marietta Street. This led into a large, open, well-lit lobby area which was the main entrance to the second-floor office space. Another straight flight staircase, located in the center, leads from the rear of the building to a generously proportioned hallway running the full length of the building. Large transoms and a 36-light window at the west end of the hallway provided natural light and cross-ventilation for this area. The hallway could be closed off at the two-thirds point in case of fire by original sliding steel Allith fire doors with pockets. The fire doors remain but have been relocated within the building. From this central hall, one entered on either side into well- proportioned rooms with large windows. The third floor is also accessible through the same two staircases. The third floor has the same general layout as the second with the fire doors enabling the hall to be closed off. The staircases, interior doors, hallway, and windows have been retained.
The hotel adaptation was done as inexpensively as possible. The large open space of the third floor was subdivided into small hotel rooms. Privacy seemed not to be a major concern. One large single window served both smaller rooms with the dividing wall stopping approximately eight inches from the window. There were common bathrooms on the second floor, one for ladies and one for gentlemen. The third floor, which provided a home away from home for single men working in Atlanta for extended periods, only had one bathroom for men.
In 1995, the building was turned into loft apartments with retail stores through a certified rehabilitation project. Currently, the main floor consists of three stores and six apartments. The second and third floors each have six apartments. An enclosed patio for the BW-3 Grill and Pub, a tenant of one of the ground-floor stores, was added to the west side of the building. It is constructed with colored split face 8" concrete block and the windows are similar to those used along the ground level of the H.B. Davis Building/Hotel Roxy.
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