Since 2004, the distinguished Georgian Revival building at 683 Peachtree St. NE has been known as the Atlanta Hotel Indigo, but its legacy dates back to 1925. An instant Midtown landmark, it predates the Fox Theatre across the street, which opened its doors in 1929. When the elegant, sturdy 12-story hotel first made the scene in Atlanta with impressive brick and limestone veneers and terracotta accents, it was known as the “The Carlton,” after its principal investor. The name is carved into the exterior frieze between the second and third floors and is just as visible today as it was years ago.
The Atlanta architectural firm of Pringle and Smith designed The Carlton as an apartment hotel for bachelors during the prosperous ‘20s. An ideal residence for unmarried men and widowers, it offered the privacy and harmony of a well-ordered home, in a manner that was characteristic of NYC. Originally, the top three floors were reserved for the “Bell House Boys,” men who had originally lived in an exclusive, selective boarding house owned by Mrs. Emma Bell on Walton St.
Bell House Boys was a high-style social fraternity with an elegant dress code and decorum rules. The Carlton offered the ready service of a fine hotel and the select sociability of a social club. It followed the laws of Prohibition except on New Year’s Day, when “enhanced eggnog” was a special treat. Residents occupied the top three floors of the tower, which had a dining room for 75, a card room (yet no playing was allowed on Sundays), a “radio room,” and a rooftop garden. The club operated in the Carlton only from its opening in 1925 through the Stock Market Crash in 1929.
Georgia National Guard Colonel Charles Cox, an original investor, eventually purchased the hotel. He re-named it the Cox-Carlton, and through the 1950s the hotel remained a vital part of the center of Midtown social life in a district that included the Fox and the Georgian Terrace hotel. The Cox-Carlton property went into an eclipse in the 1960s, but stabilized as a Days Inn franchise by the 1980s.
Today, the venerable Atlanta Hotel Indigo is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is in fine shape. The vintage ornamented exterior is extremely well preserved. The interior features the signature blue of its current corporate stewards. Though the lobby has been altered from its original 1920s appearance, there are historic traces from an earlier era—such as a marble-clad staircase, a row of original built-in phone booths and a wood paneled boardroom.
One resident of the old Cox-Carlton Hotel played a key role in the history of Brookhaven. Dr. Thornwell Jacobs, president of Oglethorpe University who built the landmark granite campus way out Peachtree Road in the Silver Lake area, made a daily trek for decades, commuting from the city to develop rural suburbs.
–Dr. Paul Hudson