How Our Hangout Became a Treasure

Jun 8, 2020

Manuel’s Tavern, just a block away, was named to the National Register of Historic Places on May 29th, letting the world know what we’ve long known – that the atmosphere here in Poncey-Highland and Virginia Highlands is something to treasure. The unique offering of historic, repurposed, and modern buildings, in the vista from the rooftop terrace of the townhomes at 550 North Highland, has long been seen as one of the keys to their value.

The reasons for Manuel’s historic designation are many, and they focus on a slice of Atlanta history that is more recent than the long-ago image of our city’s history that comes first to mind for many. Serving in England during WWII, Manuel Maloof absorbed in his precious off-duty hours that characteristic feeling found in a British “local,” the pub where you’d encounter everyone in the village, sooner or later, from a tradesman to the lord of the manor. Manuel never lost sight of the welcome he felt there, or the source of strength that could come from this kind of socializing.

A Collected Kind of Transformation

In 1956, Manuel spotted a granite-fronted delicatessen, near the corner of North Highland and North Avenue. He bought it to create a neighborhood bar. The way Manuel went about making it comfortable was unusual for the time – although it has been much imitated since then. He collected furnishings that had been discarded when old homes and stores no longer saw their sturdy beauty. The mismatched tables and chairs, the paneling, the light fixtures all came with a history. Drawn together they began a history of their own at Manuel’s.

The same might be said for Manuel’s clientele. Like the pubs he enjoyed so much in Britain, his own place here in Atlanta attracted a splendid sampling of characters, a real cross-section of Atlanta. The magnetic charm of Manuel’s Tavern played a quiet yet powerful part in making this a neighborhood. Manuel’s evolved and endured through times of great change, and gave the folks hereabouts something they enjoyed holding onto.

A Process for Protecting

The whole Poncey-Highland neighborhood is the subject of an historic district proposal that is making its way forward through community dialogue and public-private cooperation. Supporters see the proposal for historic preservation in this case as an unusual blueprint that fosters a balance of historic and modern structures. It gives latitude to projects and improvements that might be prohibited in ordinary historic designations. It’s been described as a process for continuing to build value here, rather than a stack of restrictions.

To arrange an appointment, or take a virtual walk-through of the townhomes that await here in the fortunate neighborhood that offers such a range of experiences, from Ponce City Market to the Atlanta Beltline, visit https://550nhighland.com/contact/ or contact us at 770.282.3824.