My intention was to bring the Celt some peace of mind, because if there's one thing he cannot abide it's an untidy house. Inconveniently, perhaps, he married a man who it seems can be very untidy – and worse, not notice it – and stacks of books spread around the place have been driving him nuts. Who knew? So, no more stacks in the living room, none in the dining room, even the piles in the library are gone, and the bedside tables have been cleared, thereby making the Celt and the maid happy.
If you want to read about a happy book owner – someone not easily parted from any book – and you should, click here for Diane Dorrans Saeks's essay on books and the joys of book ownership. I'm a little less joyous about owning books, given I have to keep the Celt, heretofore a patient man, from having an anxiety attack – the joys of both marriage and book ownership. (I wouldn't change a thing!)
Joy aside, I do get worried about the weight of books, the psychic toll that too having many possessions takes, and it's probably related to the feeling of dread I get when I walk around flea markets – all that dead people's stuff lying around exuding desolation. (I know, I know, I'm a drama queen, but the Industrial Revolution and my grandmother have a lot to answer for.)
The reasons for choosing to decorate in the way one does are too many to go into in a paragraph or two here, but it is interesting that in 1969 Brutalist Modern buildings such as ours – the first residential high-rises in the city – from the opening day, many residents responded to the architecture by ignoring it and treating their home, on the inside, as if it was the Colonial Revival standard everyone was used to. Only of late, as a younger generation gradually moves in, have some units begun to look as if they belong in modern architecture. That's not to say that Mid-Century Modern rules – it does not, but it is increasingly fashionable – and there there are those who cannot get beyond the cliché Barcelona chairs in spare white interiors.
When first built, the architecture was not as it is today, screened from the street by an accretion of blowsy hollies and azaleas, under-scaled plantings of annuals, and maples the color of dried blood disturbing the green shade under the mature trees.
It is inevitable that, over the years, there are changes – but occasionally one wonders why certain decisions were made. Foundation planting, as suburban a concept as ever there was, has blurred the lines where concrete met grass and gravel; light poles (the elegant five-globe fixtures in the photograph above) were removed from the piers flanking the drive and replaced by ivy, box and pansy-filled urns; gone too is the reflecting pool with its jets, seen to the right of the south tower in the colored photograph above, filled in because allegedly it leaked – as if every body of water from a lake to the human bladder doesn't leak sometime.
Judging by the blueprints, the original intention was that shade trees and lawn were to be the major part of the setting, with shrubs flanking the grounds at the property lines; in other words, a dignified frame, a balance, for a pair of buildings that, at the time, would have been a shocking invasion in a genteel neighborhood.
The original lobby with its long-gone rya hanging.
Tango, a restaurant much missed, judging by comments one still hears
about its originality and beauty
about its originality and beauty
The bar at Tango
My old prof, now a feisty ninety years of age, was asked by Mr Ted Levy, the architect, to create the model rooms you see here. She fitted out the rooms with traditional drapery, upholstery and case pieces from Baker, Knapp & Tubbs – an indication of the generous budget, and also of the aesthetic expectations of the clientele Mr Levy was hoping to attract. There was no question of contemporary as we might understand it, for this kind of decorating was as contemporary as it got in Atlanta in 1969.
These model rooms don't look overly dated; they have stood the test of time – due I think to the black-and-white images and the fact that there are many, many flats in these buildings that look exactly the same.
These photographs are from a brochure given to me by my old prof, which was not one of the books I donated to the library downstairs – the library, another of the changes made, and this time one for the better.