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Archive for the ‘History’ Category

FIRST LOOK: ‘Diana: A Celebration’ at Atlanta Civic Center

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Princess Diana's wedding dress — with its entire 25-foot train — is on display in "Diana: A Celebration" at the Atlanta Civic Center. AJC photos by Vino Wong/

“Blockbuster” is the term we always throw around about exhibitions at the Atlanta Civic Center. They’re big, flashy, heavily marketed. They draw huge crowds over a few months, and when they close, that’s it. They’ve had a good streak — King Tut, then “America I AM.”

The exhibition opening this weekend, “Diana: A Celebration,” has an impact, too, but it’s softer around the edges.


This tiara is among several jeweled artifacts in "Diana: A Celebration."

Organizers say they put Diana’s life in context by showcasing objects and home movies from her childhood, clothes she wore as an adult and images of her charity work. Their word are precise: these are artifacts that put her public image in the context with her life before and after she was called princess. Here are photos from the Diana exhibition.

People who love Diana …

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Smithsonian to help preserve Atlanta’s African-American history


This 1956 image of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King Jr. and baby Yolanda King will be in a new Atlanta History Center exhibition organized by the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. It's not the only event the Smithsonian has going on in Atlanta in coming weeks.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture will be in Atlanta next month to help Atlanta learn to preserve its own history and culture.

A one-day program “Save Our African American Treasures: A National Collections Initiative of Discovery and Preservation” includes hands-on tips to help preserve items and oral histories and one-on-one consultations for people who want to learn how to care for small items. (Be clear, though: they’re reviewers, not appraisers. This isn’t “Antiques Roadshow.”)

A Smithsonian Magazine article said more than 150 people turned out to the first “Treasures” event in Chicago in 2008, and some of the objects people brought …

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Plaza Theatre, Atlanta’s oldest moviehouse, turns 70

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The Plaza Theatre celebrated its 70th anniversary on Jan. 15, 2010. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

I was greeted at the door of the Plaza Theatre last night by Scarlett and Rhett. Dorothy and Toto showed up later, and Glinda and the Wicked Witch were hawking raffle tickets somewhere nearby.

What do they have in common? 1939, the year all of them debuted. (Check out more of its history in this week’s Access Point.)

The Plaza celebrated its 70th anniversary last night with a screening of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” another 1939 delight, and a party/raffle/silent auction to kick off its fund-raising campaign. The Plaza recently became a non-profit, and now wants to be sure it will stay open for years to come. Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne was there, surrounded by police groups of movie geeks who wanted a photo with him.

Here are photos from last night’s celebration. There are a lot more opportunities to celebrate, with the series of 1939 films they’re showing for …

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PHOTOS: Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


Chistine King Farris reads "My Brother Martin" to children at the Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site. AJC/Jamie Gumbrecht

People all over the world will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr.’s 81st birthday this weekend with ceremony and service, but only in Atlanta can dozens of kids celebrate with birthday cake and a story read by King’s older sister, Christine King Farris.


King Farris reads from "My Brother Martin," filling in details between the words on the page.

Kids from pre-school to third grade gathered at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site  this morning to see a puppet show about how life has changed for black children since King was a boy, and to hear “My Brother Martin.” (Teachers went home with free copies of the book for their classrooms or libraries, too.)

The kids asked a lot of questions that remind how time and history look different when you’re a kid: What happened to Martin Luther King Jr.’s parents? Do his kids live with his sister? Was he a …

Continue reading PHOTOS: Happy birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. »

Big plans for Valentine’s Day? How about a 15-minute, $200 wedding at Rhodes Hall, the castle on Peachtree Street

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Stanley Johnson and Christie Koerwer smooch after their 15-minute wedding at Rhodes Hall on Valentine's Day, 2009. The race for romance returns to the castle this year. AJC file photo

You read that headline. We are talking about the ultimate in romance efficiency — a combined Valentine’s Day and wedding day, all rolled up into 15 minutes that ends with cupcakes for two.

Yes, the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is bringing back its Cupid at the Castle event, a non-stop run of 15-minute, $200 weddings inside historic Rhodes Hall on Peachtree Street. They tried it for the first time last year, with great success. I broke down the intense 15-minute production line wedding schedule in this story from last year, “Castle plays Cupid to couples.”

Here’s how it works: Couples bring the marriage license and up to 20 guests. Each gets 15 minutes for the wedding, commitment ceremony or vow renewal, and a choice between the front porch or the Victorian-styled Reception Hall. …

Continue reading Big plans for Valentine’s Day? How about a 15-minute, $200 wedding at Rhodes Hall, the castle on Peachtree Street »

Martin Luther King Jr. Day events around Atlanta

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This mural by artist Louis Delsarte was painted with the help of volunteers and will be unveiled on January 17. There are dozens of other events to celebrate the birth of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this wekeend. AJC file photo

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the celebration of the Atlanta-born civil rights leader, may be our greatest holiday. The coming days are filled with incredible expressions of art and community. There are dozens of celebrations listed on on, but here are some of the highlights. Feel free to share your suggestions in the comments, too!

Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 18th Annual “A King Celebration” Concert
The concert features the world premiere of Wynton Marsalis’s new symphonic work, “Blues Symphony,” plus performances by the Morehouse and Spelman Glee Clubs.
8 p.m. $25. King International Chapel at Morehouse College, 830 Westview Dr. S.W., Atlanta. 404-681-2800,

Martin Luther King Jr. Birthday Celebration
This …

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Princess Diana exhibit to open in Atlanta January 23

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Princess Diana's wedding dress, with its 25-foot train, will be on display at the Atlanta Civic Center.

Atlanta will be the second and final stop in the United States for an exhibition about Princess Diana, “Diana: A Celebration.”

This is a strong follow up for the Atlanta Civic Center, which housed the blockbuster “America I AM” exhibition last year, and a popular King Tut exhibition before that.

Here’s a look at what visitors can expect to see, courtesy of a story by AJCer Howard Pousner:

Nine galleries will hold more than 150 objects, including Diana’s royal wedding gown, 28 designer dresses, diamond tiaras and the original text of  her brother Earl Spencer’s tribute to his sister at her Westminster Abbey funeral. …

The Royal Wedding gallery features her gown, 25-foot-train, diamond tiara, veil, shoes and parasol. The exhibit also includes portraits of her ancestors, family heirlooms and jewelry, paintings, home movies filmed by her father, news video, photos and …

Continue reading Princess Diana exhibit to open in Atlanta January 23 »

Access Points 19: Macy’s Pink Pig ride at Lenox Square

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It's the Pink Pig at the Lenox Square Macy's! Photo by Barry Williams

The guesses for this week’s Access Points photo game were a-plenty — The Vortex, the eye of the Atlanta Hawk, the Big Chicken, an Elmo float — but in fact, it was a little Atlanta holiday tradition you can find these days at Lenox Square.

Yes, Laura, it is the Pink Pig at Macy’s. You were the first to identify it, so you win four passes from Macy’s for two rides aboard the Pig!

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Percival, one of the Monorail Twins, in their glory days. AJC file photo

The modern Pink Pig is a 3 1/2-minute ride based on a holiday attraction that appeared a the downtown Atlanta Rich’s store beginning in 1953. Priscilla, the original Pink Pig, was a sales-driving monorail that flew along the department store ceiling, giving kids an overhead view of the dreamy toy department. Another pig, Percival, was added later. Later on, the monorail moved to the roof the department store, and offered up a view of downtown Atlanta and Rich’s …

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New photo exhibit at Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site

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These photos by Stanley Tretick are in the "Bobby, Martin and John" exhibit. AJC photos by Jamie Gumbrecht

A new exhibition at the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site follows the lives of King, John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy with their families, at protests , at campaign stops — all in photos.

Each of the 150-some images in “Bobby, Martin and John: Once Upon an American Dream,” was shot by photographer Stanley Tretick. He’s the man behind the iconic photos of John F. Kennedy Jr.’s son peeking out from beneath his father’s desk in the Oval Office, which is included in the exhibition. There are contact sheets featuring King, and images from the hotel suite where Robert F. Kennedy waited for election returns the night he was assassinated.

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"Bobby Martin and John" at the King Historic Site.

The exhibition is both art and history, revealing telling moments in the lives of three leaders of the 1960s and the changes, too, in photojournalism and how politicians are …

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Atlanta’s historic home tours: The Wren’s Nest


The Wren's Nest is the home of Joel Chandler Harris. AJC file photo

The Wren’s Nest in Atlanta’s West End is our final stop on our tour of Atlanta area historic homes. We didn’t get to all of them, including the Herndon Home, which no longer keeps regular visiting hours, but is available for tours by appointment.

I’d love to hear your your likes, dislikes, suggestions and ideas about historic tours around the area. If there are other tours or sites to visit, let me know in the comments.

Till then, our last home.

The Wren’s Nest

History: Ideas about Joel Chandler Harris and the “Uncle Remus” tales he published have evolved over time, but the author’s Queen Anne Victorian home in the West End has changed little since it became a house museum shortly after his death in 1908. The museum is now led by Harris’ great-great-great grandson, Decatur native Lain Shakespeare, and the site of a growing number of programs for children and teens.


  • The story of the home and its …

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