In the early 1800s, in old Easton township, a train depot likely occupied the property where Ansley Mall is today. The railroad linking Easton to Atlanta is long gone but the BeltLine follows its roadbed.
Watkins Mill on Clear Creek, the first business in the area, served the surrounding farmers. Across the creek, Meredith Collier ran the first local post office out of his home. These were Piedmont Heights’ commercial roots.
In 1928 Atlanta annexed Easton and changed its name to Piedmont Heights. By that time a number of homes had been built in the area, mostly west of Montgomery Ferry Road, which was already a noted suburb.
In the early 1960s the Adams-Cates Company purchased a 16-acre tract on the west side of Piedmont Avenue from Clear Creek to Monroe Drive to build one of Atlanta’s first shopping centers. The land, a former cow pasture,was mostly vacant except for an auto repair/service station on Piedmont Road and five houses on Monroe Drive.
In 1964 Ansley Mall opened for business. It cost $3.2 million and boasted 175,000 square feet of shops spread along a beautifully landscaped open-air mall. Anchored by a Woolworth 5 & 10 and a Colonial supermarket, it also featured 26 smaller retailers. Early tenants included Regalos “emporium”, the Matador Room cocktail bar, Ansley Florist, Morrison’s Cafeteria, Revco drugstore, and the 175-seat Ansley Mall Mini-Cinema. It soon became a serious rival to the older commercial district on Peachtree at Tenth Street.
Selig Enterprises bought the property in 1972 and in 2010 gave the buildings a contemporary exterior facelift and re-landscaping the open mall. Today, a shopping magnet for all the surrounding neighborhoods, it is one of Atlanta’s few open-air malls and, as such, featured in the “Mall Hall of Fame”.
- Bill Seay (Rock Springs Rd.)