Friday, February 19, 2010

Philip Shutze's Flagship Stores: Rich's and Davison's

If you click the picture and enlarge it, you can see the carved pleats of the garland, or are they ruffles? This is some of Philip Shutze's ornamentation on the Rich's Building (1924).

Rich's and Davison's were the premier department stores in Atlanta. Their flagships were both downtown. Folks from all over shopped here before the malls took over.

The Rich's brand is no more but the building is still there just south of Five Points MARTA station. It's a beauty. This is where you shopped, dined with gloves in the Magnolia Room, rode the Pink Pig, saw the lighting of the great tree.

I worked downtown. It was natural that the very best stores were there. I can't say I ever looked closely at these extraordinary entrances. We just went shopping there. The best architecture makes humans feel good and we don't have to understand why.

The straightforward ironwork is in keeping with the later Haygood Hopkins Gate and the Academy of Medicine.

Well, it's cool all the way to the top.

You can't see all this detail from the street. I can imagine Mr. Shutze pitching these "unseeable" details. I recognize the egg and dart band. What is the design below the dentils?

The clock is handy for lunchtime shoppers. It's very humanizing.

Davison's sold out to Macy's in 1925 but kept the name. It's less elaborate than Rich's but in a more prominent place, at Peachtree and Ellis.

The main floor and mezzanine- lit by the great arches - is one of the great spaces on Peachtree. I hope it will return to service some day.

What arches.

The brick, the limestone, the black cornice.

The indented, rounded corner has always charmed me.

The brick design makes an impression even if you aren't close enough to see the details. See the band of upright brick that forms a common entablature for all the windows?

Dont' the arches and brick look great reflected in the 191 Peachtree Building across the street?

The 2010 Philip Trammell Shutze Awards on February 20th in Atlanta are tomorrow. I'm doing a batch of posts about Shutze in my "neighborhood." No pro photography or pro architecture was committed in this post.

terry @

P.S. Here is a bit of iron work from the Academy of Medicine

and from the Haygood Hopkins Gate


  1. It's trite to say "they don't make 'em like they used to..." but sometimes it's unfortunately true. Can you imagine someone applying that level of detail to Perimeter Mall?

  2. Doug, I'm afraid not. I do think it's a shame that when this sort of detail does get done it's hidden in the private homes of folks to busy themselves to see it very often.

    But I do love both Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza. Inside both are palaces open 7 days a week for ordinary folks.

  3. Nice choice of buildings to highlight, Terry. I like that quote about architecture making us feel good and we don't even know why.

    In some ways the Rich's building is really hidden by Underground Atlanta. I mean you're showing a building very few people in Atlanta see anymore.

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  5. Cimbellina. So true. Anyone exiting the south side of the 5-points MARTA station will see the Rich's building as good as ever, if not full of shopper as in the older days. I guess of the lucky province of federal worker there and at the Nunn building. Much better chance of seeing the Davison's, a bit more modest but beautiful and elegant.


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