Friday, August 4, 2006

Lenox Square Mall


Panoramic shot of Rich's and early Lenox Square in the 1960's from the GSU photo collection.

Lenox Square has changed much to keep up with the times, and the area around it has changed even more as the city around it grew taller and taller. It opened in 1959 as the first mall in Georgia. It was open air and had Rich's, Davison's and a Colonial Supermarket as its anchors. It was enclosed in 1972 with the addition of Neiman Marcus. In 1980, the previously open-air court to the rear of the mall was enclosed into a three-level atrium with a food court and access to then-under-construction MARTA. In 1995, the mall received another level between the atrium and the mall entrance next to Rich's. Along with Phipps Plaza, Lenox Square remains part of the most upscale shopping district in Georgia sitting on tony and world-famous Peachtree Street.

Part of Lenox Square does not actually connect to the rest of the mall. A lower level known as the Plaza Level is now exclusively offices. Prior to the enclosing of the mall in 1972, this was actually shopping space with several shops including a Kresge. A mall entrance to Rich's was also down there. It is really not known why the lower level was sealed off.



Compare the Rich's mall entrance in the 1960's to today. What is not shown is the first enclosed incarnation of Rich's mall entrance in the 1970's, different from either of these two images.

People both local and not local are bound to be confused at the anchor shuffle that occurred here and across Atlanta. What gets people so confused these days is how Rich's and Davison's got shuffled there. Here's how it works: the Macy's NOW was Rich's until 2005 and opened as Rich's. The Bloomingdale's there now WAS Macy's and was originally Davison's prior to 1986. Neiman Marcus was added to solidify the mall as an upscale destination and as competition to Phipps, which had opened with upscale anchors never before seen in the city prior in 1968.


Men's store addition added in the 1980's


Rich's mall entrance on lower level in 2005



The north Rich's entrance was near original. The sign on the upper left is much newer, but the sign over the concrete awning is the original sign, replaced with black lettering in lieu of green. The front entrance was obscured by the later addition of the Men's store. Both photos here taken in 2005.

The Rich's at Lenox was not skipped over on my Rich's project, though it was one of the more difficult stores to photograph. It has been expanded much since it first opened and it's actually hard to find the original building as 3/4 of it is surrounded. Hardly beautiful, the Rich's at Lenox was the epitome of 50's bunker-like modern design, but still quite enjoyable to shop in with three floors of merchandise, and the expansion was quite attractive. The Rich's here became the flagship when the downtown store was closed in 1991.


Random photo of Lenox Square taken in August 1962 by Allen Scott. Gotta love those pointy glasses


Here is a very rare angle of Lenox Square featuring the Davison's mall entrance with the actualy Davison's sign! This photo is also from Allen Scott taken August 1962.

49 comments:

  1. I'm trying to figure out how I missed this entry. It's very well done. I love all the Rich's shots.

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  2. Hi,
    As a former Atlantan, I've really enjoyed your site. There definitely were once shops in the lower Plaza level of Lenox Square - I recall a shoe store and a jewellery store being there in the 1960's.

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  3. Yes, indeed, the Plaza level of Lenox Square had a number of shops. I remember a travel agency and a very popular cafeteria -- S&S? My aunts, mother, and I used to eat there every time we went shopping at Lenox Square. I loved seeing the photographs of it when it was open-air, because that's how I remember it best.

    Somewhere I have a Rich's credit card from the '70's -- white with green lettering, more of a narrow rectangle and smaller than today's credit cards. If I find it, I'll photograph it for you!

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  4. The first picture is really amazing, how it shows the "extreme makeover" the area has undergone in the previous half-century. It used to be pleasantly suburban, now it is about as extremely urban as it can get (though it is still surrounded by forested neighborhoods). Million-dollar condos in high-rises which are nearly skyscrapers. Not to mention impossible to get around, especially with Georgia 400 plowing through the area in the early 1990s and severing many roads.

    There is also a two-story Target store around Lenox with escalators and walk-through elevators, both designed for shopping carts (which is an oddity for a store in the otherwise low-density Atlanta area). Lenox also home to what we'll forever know and love as the Rich's Great Tree, after Federated abandoned downtown and then Underground. Unfortunately the Pink Pig is elsewhere, however I'm thankful they both at least still exist, despite the loss of Rich's.

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  5. Hey, do you have any pics of Lenox from the Late 80's-Early 90's before the 1994 renovation? I remember the days when that main part of the mall was only one floor and it was darker and a little more cozy than it is now. I remember they had that red elevator that went down to the food court in the atrium.

    Now, don't get me wrong, Lenox is beautiful now, but it's also so different than it used to look.

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  6. The Plaza level also had a menswear store, a bookshop, a toy/hobby shop, and (I think) a luggage shop.

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  7. what was the name of the hotel across from Lenox years ago (1976)

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    1. JW Marriott. It currently connects to the mall.

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    2. Sorry it changed names. It used to be something else.

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    3. Rhode Way Inn Used to be where the Marriott is now across from Lenox Square.

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    4. Terrace Garden Inn

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  8. I worked in one of the lower plaza shops, Lenox Toys and Hobbies in 1981. It had an outside entrance. The flag pole was directly in front of the store. It was a delightful shop with toys from around the world including rare collector's dolls. We were one of the first to carry Xavier Roberts original Cabbage Patch Kids. Those were the days! Ha! There was a fantastic deli upstairs but I don't remember what it was called. Thanks for bringing back grand memories!

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  9. The name of the deli, circa 1980, was D.B. Kaplans.

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  10. I definitely remember Kaplan's. Did something replace it or did it get lost in redevelopment? I vaguely remember things changing when the subway opened. I also seem to remember at various times Magic Pan, Ruby Tuesday's and Houlihans as restaurants. There was also a kind of trendy men's store called Bill's London Transit-RR Ryan

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  11. Thanks for that trip down memory lane! My dad worked for Rich's in 1959 and was part of the development team when they chose the location of the mall. At the time, it was concidered to be "too far out of town" for people to want to shop there! In the 50s there was nothing else out there.

    Do they still have the old statue of the Bremen Town Musicians out there? It used to be just outside Rich's on the breezeway from the parking lot into the mall. If it's still there, it would be a nice addition to your photos.

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  12. My grandparents lived in the neighborhood that bordered the Lenox property on the West side, now called Lenox Park. We used to go to the mall via East Paces Ferry. This egress was eliminated when the MARTA rail line was extended to the mall in the 80s. My other grandmother worked at the mall, first at Neiman Marcus and then at J.P. Allen's.

    I myself worked there at various times. I worked at the first Banana Republic in the summer of '88, at Britches of Georgetown for Christmas '88, and at Mark Shale from Fall of '89 until Fall of '91.

    The plaza level featured Pet Village with its distinctive mural and which was perpendicular to the lower level/South entrance to Rich's (now Macy's), the aforementioned Toy and Hobby (I used to get Corgi diecast cars there) and jewelry store, a bakery, the S&S Cafeteria, and S.S. Kresge 5 and 10 cent store. In the earliest days of the mall, there was also a Dipper Dan ice cream shop on the Plaza Level, and Merle Norman cosmetics and a Colonial Stores grocery. At another time, one of the mall's Mori stores was also there and perhaps still is. There was and is a stairwell that led from the plaza level and into the mall, coming out more or less directly across from what was J.P. Allen's and is now Mark Shale.

    Magic Pan was in the north and west-facing entrance that led into the mall in the Neiman-Marcus wing. Houlihan's was on the North side of the mall, just inside the Peachtree Road entrance. the restaurant itself was actually upstairs.

    The Bremen Town Musicians now sit outside the mall and the parking lot, close to Peachtree Street.

    My most vivid memories of Rich's are: the water-wall/fountain that sat in between all of the escalators, the Br'er Fox cafeteria in the basement/lower level, and The Magnolia Tea Room, which was in the upper level of the store. There was also a Beauty Parlor in that upper level where I spent what seemed like days waiting for either of my grandmothers to finish getting her hair done.

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  13. I am the daughter of one of the original merchants of Lenox Square,The Lenox Toy and Hobby Shop. My dad, Hugh Leamon, used to have the Buckhead Hobby Shop. I remember vividly when my parents decided to make the commitment to move their business to Lenox, the merchants in the Buckhead triangle told my dad that he was crazy to take his business so far away from the heart of Buckhead.....he would never make it because people would travel that far to shop. Little did they know. I remember being part of the parade the day that they opened Lenox. We have home movies of the festivities. My dad had his business at Lenox for over 25 years before he sold it. Many thanks to all our customers of Atlanta that supported his business. I have many wonderful memories of working at my dad's store during my high school and college years. One of the few native Atlantans that have remained here, I still meet people who "grew up" in Lenox Toy and Hobby....Judy Leamon Suggs

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    1. Can you post the film somewhere?

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  14. Let's not forget Lenox Stamp and Coin on the Plaza level (but around the corner from the row that included the awesome Toy & Hobby shop). The stamp store was crammed up behind an escalator that led up to the main shopping area.

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  15. I have many memories of the early Lenox Square as well. One Christmas my sister's girl scout troop was part of a carol singing pageant staged out in the mall. It was a cold night & the wind blowing down the chute formed by the storefronts created a windtunnel effect not to be forgotten. I still think that was the coldest I have ever been.
    I once saw Santa Claus arrive for the season via the WSB helicopter one year too.

    In the late 1960s there was often a gypsy monkey grinder act wandering around the mall too. His little monkey on a leash would go around collecting coins in a cup from kids. One day I saw the monkey bite a kid that tried to pet him. Never saw it after that.

    Each summer Lenox sponsored the "Stay & See Georgia" tourist campaign as well. It featured various exhibits from around the state. Even had rattlesnake milking demonstrations one year.

    The Toy & Hobby Shop was the absolute last word for those of us into model trains, Corgi & Dinky diecast, model airplane kits etc. Their train display took up the entire back half of the store. I think they lost the lease on part of their space around 1978 or so. I recall going in there about then and the size of the store had been cut in half. I remember the mosaic murals at the pet store too. I'm pretty sure that it was indeed an S&S Cafeteria down the walk from the hobby shop. That area on the east side of the mall is where Mary Shotwell vanished in the 1960s. The AJC did a feature on the still unsolved case a few years ago.

    Mildly surprised at the lack of any mention of the catacombs beneath Lenox. All of their service halls, dumpsters, loading docks etc run in a series of tunnels beneath the mall. I worked at the bookstore at Lenox the winter of 1988-89. When we took out the trash we had to go down there and it was a dreadful place to be. Dark, noisy, nasty etc. I saw two rats fighting over a bit of chicken thrown out by one of the food court merchants.

    I go in there every few years and am amazed at how unrecognizable it is from when I was a kid....

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  16. I have many memories of the early Lenox Square as well. One Christmas my sister's girl scout troop was part of a carol singing pageant staged out in the mall. It was a cold night & the wind blowing down the chute formed by the storefronts created a windtunnel effect not to be forgotten. I still think that was the coldest I have ever been.
    I once saw Santa Claus arrive for the season via the WSB helicopter one year too.

    In the late 1960s there was often a gypsy monkey grinder act wandering around the mall too. His little monkey on a leash would go around collecting coins in a cup from kids. One day I saw the monkey bite a kid that tried to pet him. Never saw it after that.

    Each summer Lenox sponsored the "Stay & See Georgia" tourist campaign as well. It featured various exhibits from around the state. Even had rattlesnake milking demonstrations one year.

    The Toy & Hobby Shop was the absolute last word for those of us into model trains, Corgi & Dinky diecast, model airplane kits etc. Their train display took up the entire back half of the store. I think they lost the lease on part of their space around 1978 or so. I recall going in there about then and the size of the store had been cut in half. I remember the mosaic murals at the pet store too. I'm pretty sure that it was indeed an S&S Cafeteria down the walk from the hobby shop. That area on the east side of the mall is where Mary Shotwell vanished in the 1960s. The AJC did a feature on the still unsolved case a few years ago.

    Mildly surprised at the lack of any mention of the catacombs beneath Lenox. All of their service halls, dumpsters, loading docks etc run in a series of tunnels beneath the mall. I worked at the bookstore at Lenox the winter of 1988-89. When we took out the trash we had to go down there and it was a dreadful place to be. Dark, noisy, nasty etc. I saw two rats fighting over a bit of chicken thrown out by one of the food court merchants.

    I go in there every few years and am amazed at how unrecognizable it is from when I was a kid....

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  17. I, too, remember Lenox Toys and Hobbies. Somewhere I still have one of their shopping bags. I was just a poor kid back the early 80s but I would always save up my money and every couple months go to Lenox and get something grand. Sometimes they'd have a sale and I'd come home with a LOT more than I bargained for. I learned so much from building 1/172-scale model kits I bought at that store. It was very sad when the store closed.

    Anyway, my family moved to Brookhaven around 1979 or so and the mall became our thing to do even on some weeknights. The lower part with the food court had just opened and there was Time Out video game arcade and a little simulator ride that I have forgotten the name of. It may be the same one that is now operating at Discover Mills.

    The movie theater was another major favorite hangout. I saw Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark there, Hunt for Red October, more James Bond movies than I can name. Such good memories. You could take your movie ticket stub and get a free game at Time Out or a free ice cream at Haagen Daz. I think it was free anyway. That movie stub was good for something!

    We moved away from Atlanta in 1980. Came back in 1984 but didn't make it back to Lenox until much later. I was shocked when I saw that the old back parking lot by the movies was now more food court. And the second story of shops? What a great idea. Wow. So many new things. But sadly almost all traces of "the old mall" are gone now.

    I did have a chance once to venture into the catacombs and tunnels to pick up something big and wow that IS a whole other world under there. And it's massive. I had a huge truck and it fit with tons of room. The underside of the mall may be bigger than the topsides.

    The only think I am sure I know about Lenox is that it never stops moving and changing and evolving. Take your eye off it and it's going to be changed by the time you look again. I am not sure I like that but I understand it.

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  18. The pet store! I had forgotten about that. It was on the Rich's end of that line of stores that opened to the outdoors on the lower level.

    Does anyone remember the line of HO-scale soldiers that was sold at the toy shop? They were sold in cardboard boxes (4" x 6" x 3/4") and came in an unbelievable assortment. You could get soldiers from practically any era and any country. They were incredibly detailed.

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  19. Richard says - -

    Before there was a Houlihan’s restaurant at Lenox, there was one named Yohannan’s. That was in the late mid to late 1960s. It was in the front facing Peachtree. It was quite popular.

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  20. Nice new picture of Davison's.

    I've never seen that logo before, though...I remember the one with the cursive "D," and of course the macy*s version...but the one shown here is new to me. Of course, maybe I just don't remember it (I am getting older)!

    Thanks for the update, and thanks to Allen for the new pictures.

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  21. I was there at the opening of Lenox Square Mall and in the years to come, my best girlfriends and I spent every weekend there cruising the stores and mall and meeting lots of interesting other students! Lenox Square holds many many happy memories for all of us ...hunting down Beatles records, picking out makeup in Rich's, Christmas Carol concernts, looking for special Prom dresses at J.P. Allen,......it was "another time"......We all miss it!! Not to mention the best Fourth of July fireworks in the City!!!

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  22. I have been trying to remember the houseware type store that was back of Colonial Grocery store -- it would have been sort of opposite the lower door into Davison's. It was such a neat shop. Can anyone remember?

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  23. There was also an eyeglass place and a post office on the Plaza level.

    On the other side of the building was the "Professional Concourse," which is now down in a hole if you're on the top level of the parking deck between Neiman-Marcus and Bloomingdale's. If you left the bookstore that's now Louis Vuitton and went out that mall entrance, you're right above it (and the dumpsters, as was noted earlier).

    All of the stores on the south side of the mall had basements; Muse's and Brooks Brothers used them as sales space. Muse's is now Banana Republic, and Brooks was in a space that starts just outside the new front entrance of Neiman-Marcus. Other stores in that row were Pella Shoes and a small, narrow Ralph Lauren.

    Ralph Lauren moved from that small space to the old Zachry (when they took off the facade to renovate it, you could see the labelscar on the bare concrete from when it was an open-air mall). Now they're back in a space that includes their original location and most of the Magic Pan.

    Macy's has continued the tradition of the Great Tree - ironically on top of the men's store, which was renovated shortly before the name change to resemble the Crystal Bridge at the downtown store, where they used to have the tree when the store down there was open.

    They've also brought back a version of the Pink Pig, which is much more open and more adult-friendly. It's in a tent on the parking deck on the Lenox Road side during the season.

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  24. My father managed the toy store for most of its existence at the mall (and could usually be found behind the hobby counter). He passed away last year. I'm sorry I did not find this site sooner. He would have loved hearing how many people still remember the store so fondly. I'll try to find some pics to post.

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  25. I worked at Lennox Toy and Hobbies through high school and college during the 60's along with my brother Tom. what a wonderful time we had,Hugh and Kay Leamon were the best employers I ever had.I remember Tony Marco and John Hooper among many others and actually met one of my first loves there.Those memories will remain with me forever, I hope others feel the same,

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  26. One of my favorite memories of growing up in the 60s was the Lenox Toy & Hobby Shop - Anon from June 22, if you see this, was your father the tall, thin man with the mustache? He really was behind the counter every single time I can remember going in, and he was always friendly and an absolute gentleman, even when I was a "lookie-see" most of my visits. I have thought of him often over the years. I really loved browsing through the incredibly interesting (and sometimes weird) things over in the back right corner, and bought an armies worth of both plastic models and those really cool small green mini-tanks (whose proper name I can't recall). What a great site and what a marvelous post, thanks!

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    1. Sorry for the extremely late reply, but yes, that was my dad - John Hooper.

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  27. whatever happened to the organ grinder and the little monkey? i liked the monkey but the organ grinder seemed a little creepy. is the monkey ok?

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  28. Originally I thought this was a joke, so I looked this up. There was a place called "The Organ Grinder" in Colorado, but I am a bit puzzled how this related to Lenox Square. Can you please enlighten me?

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  29. Does anyone remember the simulated golf driving range in the long corridor that led to the movie theater? It was there in the mid 60's and was before it's time. You would hit the ball into a net/screen and the ball would continue to fly in a video, just like on Golf Channel today.

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  30. Hey J.T. I also found pictures of Lenox from the Altanta History Center website:

    This one's probably from anywhere between 1972-1978 seeing that Neiman Marcus is there but the Grocery Store where the Atrium Court is now is still standing: http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/store/Products/84801-lenox-mall.aspx

    This looks to be the Atlanta Financial Center under construction with Lenox in the background, circa 1986 (Notice the current Westin and W Hotels weren't bult yet): http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/store/Products/92847-buckhead.aspx

    Another 70's Aerial: http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/store/Products/79788-lenox-square.aspx

    A shot of a Greek dancing group performing from what I presume to be inside the main entrance during the 70's (I actually remember when Lenox had those floors that alternated between glazed brick, stone, and hardwood...lol): http://album.atlantahistorycenter.com/store/Products/90703-greek-dancing-group.aspx

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  31. WOW this is really great walking down memory lane. My grand parents lived at the Lenox Forest apartments in the 60's and the owned the Cricket Shop at Broadview Plaza and my mom and day owned Mothers Beautiful Maternity sstore over there also. My grand dad use to walk me and my brothers and sister to Dipper Dans ice cream parlor. Yum bubble gum ice cream!

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  32. Does anyone remember the name of the roast beef restaurant in Lenox Square in the mid to late 1960s when Lenox was open air. As I remember, it was free standing small building up on the Rich's end. Thank you.

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  33. What a great site, I too have fond memories.
    responding to June 19, 2009 5:43 PM question - I believe it was called Suburban Housewares, still drink from our double old fashion Christmas glasses every holiday that we bought there in the 60's. My favorite memories are the Lenox birthday celebrations, complete with the cake and candles, but my favorite is the vague memory of a yellow striped tent that housed all a collection of carved miniatures.

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  34. We've been trying to think of the name of a clothing store at Lenox in the mid-80's. Not Rich's or Davison's but a smaller shop on the right side going from Rich's to what is now Bloomingdale's. Primarily women's clothing, not Mark Shale. Help?

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  35. I moved to Atlanta in 1988, so I don't have any of these great old memories, but I remember going with my now-husband to Lenox Toy and Hobby almost every Friday night, and then walking down to the pet store. Does anyone know what happened to the pet store animals? They used to have a beautiful, sweet blue and gold macaw there named Blue...I would have to stop and scratch him on the neck when I visited; he was so sweet.

    I found this blog just now looking for "Bremen Town Musicians" and "Lenox Mall" because they just moved the "Musicians" statue to Madison.

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  36. The clothing store my have been Muses'. I lived in Brookhaven from 1962 to 1971 and then Sandy Springs before that. Great hangout at Lenox Square! Many memories there. I bought little turtles ane little white mice. Loved the toy and hobby and the movie theater. Went and saw Tom Jones there when I wasn't supposed to! Was there a bowling alley? Enjoyed seeing fireworksand had a crush on one of the gas station attendants at the Gulf station and also a bag boy at Colonial! Bought many loaves of bread to go through his line :-) great memories!

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    1. Do you remember the address of the Gulf station?

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  37. Does anyone remember the fallout shelter?

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  38. JP Allen's was a women's clothing store located on the right about midway going from Rich's to Davison's. We purchased my wedding gown at Allen's in 1975. Casual Corner was another favorite shop during the late sixties for Atlanta teenage girls, searching for the latest in Villager and Ladybug apparel. And the movie theatre...somehow we convinced our sweet Sunday School teacher to take our class to see Goldfinger. We were 12 years old and very naive. I remember the quiet ride home, not only had our eyes been opened, they had been opened in the presence of this godly woman!!!! Yes, Lenox Square holds many old and dear memories.

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  39. I grew up in Chattanooga, but had "kin" in Atlanta and was there often. I remember my first to Lenox Square in 1975, to buy genuine Kelso Earth Shoes (still have them).

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  40. Does anyone remember the on-trend mid-to-late 80s clothing store Rain? It was located in the atrium section near Mick's and Shepherd of Australia clothing boutique for women. Perhaps, it was on the second level. I can not find any information about it. Jog any memories? Thanks for your time and cheers!

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    1. I remember that store! I didn't live in Atlanta then, but would visit and always wanted to go to that store...I thought the clothes looked like what the models in MTV videos were wearing ;-)

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  41. I am the Director of the Uncle Remus Regional Library System in Madison, Georgia. We have, on the site of the Morgan County Library, the "Critters" sculpture of Brer Rabbit, Brer Bear, Brer Fox, Brer Frog, and the Tar Baby by Julian Harris. We also have "The Traveling Musicians...the Donkey, The Dog, The Cat, The Rooster" statue by Elbert Weinberg. Sadly, the fate of the two other statues by Weinberg, The Owl and the Pussy Cat" and "The Magpie's Nest" is unclear. I would very much appreciate hearing from anyone about their memories of these statues and receiving any photos of any of the statues. Please email me at steve@uncleremus.org.

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