The History of the Ponce

The Beginning

The Ponce, completed in August and opened in September of 1913, was designed by architect William Stoddart as Atlanta's first high-rise luxury apartment building. The neighborhood then was mostly mansions, but across Ponce de Leon Ave. from the new apartment building was Stoddart's earlier design, The Georgian Terrace hotel.1

At its opening, the Ponce featured a lobby finished in "Caen stone and Formosa marble". On the ground floor were the private telephone exchange, a ladies' rest room, a cloak room and a cafeteria. On the second floor included the visitors' gallery, and the first of 16 large "housekeeping suites", or apartments, and four bachelor suites.1

From the third to ninth floors, each floor comprised just two housekeeping suites, and four bachelor suites. The large apartments contained 9 or 10 rooms--with 3 or 4 bedrooms, respectively, a sleeping porch, dressing room, living room, dining room, kitchen, pantry and servants' room, and had 3 baths. The kitchens were separated from the living spaces to keep odors down, and the servants' rooms were served by a separate service elevator.1

On each floor, and occupying the entire 10th and 11th stories were bachelor apartments of up to 3 rooms. These apartments could be rented with en suite bathrooms or without, according to a bachelors needs and means. The bachelor suites on all but the top two floors faced out the curved front of the building onto Ponce de Leon Square, the intersection of Ponce and Peachtree.1

The roof of the Ponce was a terraced garden, intended to replace the "famous yard gardens of southern homes". It was expected to be, and indeed appears to have been a favorite gathering spot for Atlanta's "social elite".1

The building was afforded the most modern conveniences. Each housekeeping suite kitchen had a mechanical refrigerator. The entire building was supplied with a central vacuum system. Central ventilation, installed in the basement, provided each apartment with fresh air drawn down from the roof. Each apartment had an associated storage space afforded it in the basement. Both an ice-making machine and laundry with steam drier were also available in the basement.1

The cafe, which took the east side of the ground floor, was open to everyone, but gave preference to tenants of the building if they had paid a small premium for meal service--for just $35/month, a tenant could receive 3 meals per day. The Cafe was operated initially by Mr.s Ella Wright Wilcox. The building superintendant, whose office was also on the ground floor lived in the Ponce, and was the former chief engineer of the Georgian Terrace Hotel across the street, Mr. R. L. Swett.1

Initial rates were in keeping with the luxury status of the building. The large housekeeping apartments rented for as little as $200/month for the 9 room version. Bachelor apartments could be had for as little as $25/month, for most floors, but rose quickly to $105/month if the tenant chose to rent a suite with more than one bathroom.1

Next: Atlanta's First Penthouse