Decatur icons and landmarks

Area festival goers may be familiar with the illustrators Sherry and Larry Paulsen. The Paulsens make and sell brightly colored illustrations of local landmarks throughout the Southeast. They’re perfect festival fodder because they express the same love and enthusiasm for community that draws so many to our neighborhood festivals in the first place.

For Metro Atlanta, the Paulsens have created iconic images of the metro-wide landmarks like The Fox Theatre, the Varsity, and the Big Chicken (among others) – as well as hyperlocal landmarks like Inman Parks Trolley Barn and the Tudor-style commercial district in Avondale Estates.

Browsing their collection of prints yesterday at the Inman Park Festival, my wife and I noticed they didn’t have any prints depicting Decatur. Larry Paulsen told me the slight isn’t intentional. They simply haven’t been able to come up with a singular, iconic image for Decatur. He’s considering, he says, an image of Agnes Scott (the college, not the woman) and Eddie’s Attic. He then gave me his business card and asked to let him know if had any suggestions.

So I’m addressing the mob – name some Decatur buildings or streetscapes worthy of devotional iconography? Eddie’s? Agnes? CVS? Okay, maybe not CVS.

(Post by Andisheh Nouraee, filling-in for Mr. DM)

27 thoughts on “Decatur icons and landmarks”


  1. The old courthouse seems the obvious choice. The Masonic building. Decatur First United Methodist Church…their spire is quite inspiring. The old granite DFUMC building on Sycamore. The bandstand.

    1. Tee hee. Athough, the Westchester sign “A community for life” is truly a retro classic. Actually, Clairemont is probably has the most traditional, heritage school look with Oakhurst a close second and Glennwood third. A shot of a ballfield and pool together at Glenlake or Mckoy would be good.

      It’s hard to get one iconic picture that sums it up for everyone, because schools and recreation activities are so important to the community fabric for families but less so for the 75% of Decatur households without kids. Maybe a shot of the bandstand with the Old Courthouse behind it would be best, as long as none of ever present porta-potties are in the shot.

  2. I like their work, too.

    How about the old depot?

    The bandstand and old courthouse from the perspective of N. McDonough?

    Some view of either the square or Ponce de Leon when it’s in full festival mode: tents, balloons, etc.?

    The building facade on along the south side of Ponce between East Court Square and Church Street? That always suggests Edward Hopper without the anxiety to me.

    High House or that old Queen Anne (?) on Sycamore.

    The Frazier House and/or the Art Shack backing up to the cemetery?

    Our beautiful library? City Hall? Ice House lofts?

    The new fire house in Oakhurst?

    I’ll have to take a walk today looking for inspiration.

    Hey Andisheh–if you are filling in does it mean that Mr and Mrs DM have news?

    The U-Joint?

  3. the Decatur cemetery? If that’s too morbid then I’d vote for the courthouse.

    > That always suggests Edward Hopper without the anxiety to me.

    awesome turn of phrase and great idea

    1. I agree 100% with The Brick Store! It’s iconic in Decatur as far as I’m concerned!

      I also agree with The Courthouse (also think the bandstand/gazebo on the lawn should get some love too).

      Some other ideas include: The Depot, The Masonic Building, YDFM and Agnes Scott

  4. WinnonaMom – I was thinking the Brick Store, too, since it also draws so many people from outside Decatur. The problem is, when I conjure the image, I see the view from Ponce – a view obscured by parked cars. Maybe the Paulsens could go all “artistic license” on us and depict the Brick Store with a flowery meadow in the front.

    1. Speaking of which, as a general idea, why not axe the parking in front of Brick Store altogether? It accomodates so few cars anyway, and making that pedestrian-only would benefit the entire square. Plenty of other places to park. And photos of the front of the BS would no longer be obscured by cars at all.

      1. But then what would I have to hope for? Even though there’s never parking on the square, I enjoy harboring the hope that there might be!

  5. For me, the most obvious choice is Eddie’s. It’s what got me to visit Decatur in the first place, years ago, and as weird as it might sound, it played a big role in planting the seed in my head (and, later on, my wife’s) that Decatur was the place we wanted to live. I think the Brick Store (and now Leon’s) probably meet that same criteria now, but Eddie’s was here first, so it wins.

    The courthouse is a fine choice, but if we’re being painfully honest, does it really look all that different from 100 other historic courthouses in this country?

    We might also be overlooking the fact that an iconic image doesn’t necessarily have to depict a place. It could depict an event. Being that Decatur’s known for its festivals, with the Book Festival probably being the most widely known, maybe that would make a good poster.

    1. I like the idea of the Book Festival–that ties in households with and without children, the schools (which have their own day at the DBF), and the many facilities that participate.

  6. I’m going with the brickstore as well. It’s one of the top pubs in the entire country and world. It’s iconic.

  7. How about the Solarium? I have to agree that Eddie’s and the Brickstore should definitely be considered.

  8. Andisheh – are you filling in because Baby DM is on its way into the world and Mr. DM could not get wifi in the delivery room? Can you set up the poll for us to name it? Please?

  9. Speaking of which, as a general idea, why not axe the parking in front of Brick Store altogether? It accomodates so few cars anyway, and making that pedestrian-only would benefit the entire square. Plenty of other places to park. And photos of the front of the BS would no longer be obscured by cars at all.

    1. Depends on your definition of “benefit.” When MARTA cut off car access to the other side of the square in the 80s they essentially killed it for twenty years.

      Cars are intimately tied to downtown business. The trick is to accommodate them in ways that make them behave in a ped-friendly manner — low speeds, with adequate short term parking in close proximity to businesses and bulkier long term tucked away. Before being cut off from Sycamore, the parking court in front of the Brick was just the street that bordered the east side of the square. Not surprisingly, it offered a comparable amount of parking to what’s there now.

  10. Speaking of which, as a general idea, why not axe the parking in front of Brick Store altogether? It accomodates so few cars anyway, and making that pedestrian-only would benefit the entire square. Plenty of other places to park. And photos of the front of the BS would no longer be obscured by cars at all.

  11. I’d say the most iconic image is actually a collection of images.

    Nothing tells Decatur’s more recent history more succinctly than Decatur’s many gas stations-turned-restaurants. Plus they’re some of the city’s most interesting buildings.

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