Atlanta's Kimball Opera House
This Opera House also served as Georgia's state capitol from
January 1869 to July 1889.
The destiny that ordained what would be Atlanta's 2nd capitol
goes back to 1867 -
The Atlanta Opera House & Bldg. Association managed to obtain
the SW corner of Marietta Street and Forsyth Streets and began
construction of the five-story opera house.
By 1868 their funds were nil and the construction was stopped
with only the outer walls erected.
We now go back to June 2nd, 1868 where at a receiver's sale the
land where the opera house and the house were bought by Mr. Edwin
N. Kimball for the price of $31,750.
During the following couple of months Edwin and his brother were
pursuing the thought of outfitting this for the legislature's
use. Their thoughts and proposition was such that Atlanta would
rent part of the building for a period of five years at the cost
of $6,000 annually and then turn over the rented portion to the
state. They apparently believed the legislature would purchase
or authorize the erection of a new statehouse at another location
at the 5 yr end.
There were many problems with financials during the following
year, since the proposal had not included lights, heating, furniture,
etc. Governor Bullock had to arrange payments amounting to $54,000
in state funds to the Kimball brothers to gain these items. Bullock's
lacked reporting these payments to the treasurer for the state
and had to defend his actions by saying there were necessary
for them to have a place to meet (Them being the legislature).
Jan. 1869 -
Ready for occupation by the State Legislature, however in August
of 1869 E. N. Kimball conveyed the property to his brother -
H.I. Kimball with the deed notating that the property was not
encumbered with the exception of the $60,000 mortgage payable
to the Northwest Mutual Life Insurance Company. Going forward
by one year the state purchased the house and land for $250,000
in state bonds from H. I. Kimball without the knowledge of the
mortgage that was outstanding. When the legislatures found out
some wnated to return the capital to Milledgeville. When Atlanta
Officials became aware of this they paid the mortgage by virtue
of transferring it to the city and later canceled it.
KIMBALL OPERA HOUSE
Jan. 12, 1869
The Opera House from dome to basement,
was brilliantly illuminated with gas.
About the House of Representatives so paraphrased from Atlanta
The house is brilliantly lighted by
a circular of gas jets some thirty feet from the floor, and at
least fifteen feet in its diameter. All around these jets was
placed a fluted glass mirror, that threw the bright rays of light
completely over the room, rendering all side lights completely
unnecessary. The fresco work on the ceiling, and indeed all over
the room, was really magnificent, and elicited loud marks of
approval from all who visited the building.
A full length portrait of that brave
old military chieftain and peerless gentleman, "Old Hickory,"
a man whose name will never, never die.
The Senate Chamber is very beautiful,
though not so imposing as the House of Representatives. Over
the seat of the President of the Senate is a full length portrait
of George Washington, the first rebel known in American history,
from the celebrated painting of Gilbert Stuart. It is very beautiful,
and an ornament to the Senate Chamber.
The Supreme Court Library contains
two full length portraits: the one on the left of the Hall representing
Benjamin Franklin, the Printer, Philosopher and Statesman, and
the other, on the right, of the gallant Lafayette.
The Committee rooms deserve special
notice for the extreme good taste in which they have been arranged,
but the apartments upstairs, the doors of which were all marked:
"Sleeping Room--For Rent," were in bad taste to say
the least of it. They might very properly have been reserved
for the use of the attaches ' of the building, but the idea of
making a cheap lodging house out of the top of so elegant a building
seems really absurd.
In October 1870, the General Assembly
approved state purchase of the Kimball Opera House, with records
indicating the Governor Bullock paid $250,000 in Georgia bonds
for the building. Twenty years later, the state would sell this
building for $132,241.56, with the furniture bringing in a further
$2,051. Later the Western Union Building was constructed on this