Historic Downtown Augusta (Broad Street)
The Broad Street portion of Historic Augusta's downtown virtual tour. Here you will learn about Augusta's rich history, as well as the architecture it entailed.
The Modjeska Theater originally opened in 1911, making it the oldest existent theater in Augusta GA. A competitor, the Bonita Theater preceded the Modjeska, but soon fell out of existence. The current building is rendered in the Moorish-Persian Style, designed by Architect G.Lloyd Preacher. The theater hosted picture shows and Vaudeville Acts and has been cited as the first theater in the Augusta Area to premier films with sound.
The Woolworth Building located at the corner of Broad and Seventh Streets was built in 1939 and played an integral role in Downtown Augusta's economic boom during the early to mid 20th century. Rendered in the Art Deco style, the storefront building is plastered in tan brick, includes a second story tenant space with metal-frame windows, and a geometric parapet wall.
The original building located on the site was constructed in 1910 in the Mission style after the Union Savings Banking Company acquired a lot on broad St in 1908. An article in the Augusta Chronicle sited the building as "one of the prettiest buildings in the city." The furnishings were all of dark mahogany wood and the chandeliers were "the handsomest that have been seen in the city."
The Rialto Theatre reportedly opened on Wednesday, September 18, 1918, at 2:00 PM with the showing of Douglas Fairbanks' "Bound in Morocco". An Augusta Chronicle Article sited described the theatre as representing "the last word in the way of a moving picture theater". With a seating capacity of 710 people, the theatre opened two months after the Imperial theatre, making it the third operating theater on broad street.
Located at 735 Broad St., this project began construction in 1913 as the Empire Life Insurance Building. Designed in the Sullivanesque style by G. Lloyd Preacher of Augusta and W. L. Stoddard of New York, the building has been cited as one of Augusta'a first and finest office towers. As the original plan was to complete construction by the end of 1913, a series of financial struggles and fire damage extended the completion time to four years. In 1917, after being gutted for the 1916 fire, the former Empire Life Insurance Building reopened as the Lamar Building.
Built 1917 as the Wells Theater for vaudeville acts in the Syllivanesque style. The theater closed as a cinema in 1981 but reopened as a community arts theater in 1985. The imperial has hosted notable names such as Charlie Chaplin and James Brown. A replica of the original marquee was erected in 2006.
The Marion was originally built in 1914 as the Chronicle Office Building located at 737-739 Broad Street. Designed by the architect G.Lloyd Preacher in the Renaissance Revival style, it was considered one of Augusta's earliest multi-storied buildings. Although advertised as fireproof, this building sustained fire damage in 1916 and reopened in 1922 as the Marion Building.
Designed by prominent Georgia architect G. Lloyd Preacher and Company, the 8-story Richmond Hotel was constructed in 1923 on the site of the Albion Hotel which burned in 1921. The building's design is of the Italian Renaissance Revival style indicated by the rectangular form, entablature, and rhythmic placement of the windows. Completed for occupation January 1923, The Richmond Hotel was converted into the Richmond Summit in 1979.
The Albion Building was constructed in 1900-1901 and designed by Architect Willis F. Denny of Atlanta who also designed the old First Baptist Church located on Greene Street. Augusta businessman, J.B. White commissioned the architect to design a business complex of five stories and two wings with a construction price of approximately $60,000. A large commercial hotel resided on one end with an equally impressive dry goods department on the opposing end. At the time of its construction, the Albion was described as "a handsome building five stories high and specially arranged to afford ample light and air to every room." The facade was plastered in light cream brick and Georgia Marble.
The Second-Empire style building at what is now 724 Broad St., locally referred to as the Dorr Building is one of the oldest standing buildings on Broad Street with a traceable origin to 1886, with the lot traceable to 1826. Augustus Dorr Commissioned local architect W. E. Speir to design the storefront. Considering the rise in popularity of the Second empire style occurred during the 1852-1870 reign of Napoleon III, the construction of the building years after the style's prominence can most likely be attributed to the delayed time for cultural diffusion to affect the southern United States. The building survived three great fires, two in the years 1899 and one in 1916. It has also experienced three address changes due to a presumable shift in the Broad St. lot numbering system as a result of urban development.
The News Building, formerly known as the Herald, was built in April 1917 by the Evans Brother Construction Company. Following the Great Fire of 1916, which brought the downtown district to a decrepit state, a multi-million dollar redevelopment effort proceeded in the year 1917. The Italian Renaissance style building's $115,000 cost of construction was an integral part of the downtown initiative. Eventually, in 1955, the Augusta Chronicle, following the increase in prominence of the company and the subsequent decision to merge the Chronicle and Herald, purchased the building.
The Citizen and Southern Bank of Georgia, established in 1917, selected Augusta as their location due to its thriving economy in agriculture, namely cotton. The Original building was located adjacent to the National Bank of Augusta and the Georgia Railroad Bank. The building has experienced two expansions, one in the late '40s to early '50s and a final in the late '60s, allowing for its current six-column facade. Although the Citizens and Southern Bank no longer occupies the building, the company's name can still be seen plastered across the building's architrave.
The original Georgia Railroad Bank building opened October 11, 1902 at 701 Broad Street, at the intersection of 7th and Broad Street. Designed in the rennaisance revival style by architects Mowrbary & Uffinger; the firm hosted a public gala for the inspection of the newly completed structure. In 1969, the banking company relocated across the street to 699 Broad in a 17-story miesian style office skyscraper built specifically for the bank. The site of the previously occupied bank was used for the expansion of the Fitizen southern Bank with in the neoclassical style.
Construction began on the Miller Theater in 1938 and was designed to accommodate Augusta's growing population. Frank Miller, the building's owner commissioned Architect Roy Benjamin, who was based in Jacksonville, to design the theater. The Miller was rendered in the Art Moderne-style and featured Italian Marble terrazzo, black walnut millwork, and a performance stage adorned with fluted columns and hand-painted panels. The theater seated approximately 1,550 patrons and was the second-largest theater in Georgia at the time of its construction. Construction cost Miller approximately $500 thousand.
600 Broad St, constructed in 1977 is a design by world-renowned architect I.M. Pei. Situated along the central axis of Broad St, this building is the only of its kind and exists as a component of a redevelopment effort throughout the Augusta Downtown District. Emanating from the building, along the same axis, are parking wells and plazas that span between the 600 and 1000 blocks of Broad St.
The Executive House Hotel was constructed in 1974-75 by a partnership that included former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders. It was later named the Landmark Hotel, and affiliated with Ramada in 1995. When built, the project was considered a major component of downtown revitalization in Augusta and offered convention and meeting space otherwise unavailable in Georgia outside of Atlanta.