Monday, February 2, 2009

Hiding the centerpiece: the Dekalb County Courthouse

Here I am complaining. Sorry. My errands take me through Decatur several times a week and it's a treat. My complaint: they've hidden the sunny south side of the courthouse and it's a shame as the south west quadrant of downtown Decatur is not it's best face.

The north facade, always in shadow, is a zen view. It dominates the Decatur hilltop but you can see it for just one block. You first see it from the corner of Clairmont and Commerce framed by trees and buildings. The full facade finally emerges when you get to Ponce. Nice. You've found a hidden gem.

The south facade and obelisk look great in the sunlight.

But you can only see the south face on foot becuase of the bandstand which is quite nice by itself.

But what were they thinking in 1996?

The downtown hill top is more visible from the south sarting across the tracks at College Avenue.

They hid the courthouse behind bandstand and landscaping.

But we still get to see a bit of the roof.

From just north of the tracks, Decatur High School on the left.


  1. Yikes! What a huge faux pas! What were they thinking?! The siting of the Courthouse as a termination for the long axis was perfect! And then to go and ruin it with the ugly bandstand is inexcusable. Why don't our Planners consider good design any more? If I lived in that city, I would do my best to fight to have it removed to once again, open up the view of the courthouse.

  2. Mr. Harris was a genuine community leader for Decatur, Atlanta, and Georgia. I'll bet he wouldn't mind if the bandstand was somewhere else.

    "J. Robin Harris (1925-1989) was a banker (CEO of Decatur Federal Savings and Loan) and DeKalb representative in the state House of Representatives. He managed George Busbee's gubernatorial campaigns in 1974 and 1978, sponsored legislation creating MARTA, and was instrumental in the founding of the Fernbank Science Center. He was the great-grandson of author Joel Chandler Harris...."


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