Construction Snafu Appears To Have Caused Collapse of Historic DuPre Excelsior Mill

Old Fourth Ward site, most recently home to The Masquerade music venue, seems to have accidentally come crumbling down Friday.

Plans to preserve the historic DuPre Excelsior Mill structure as part of The Mill redevelopment project seem to have gone awry Friday.

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A What Now Atlanta (WNA) reader who wishes to remain anonymous witnessed the original stone and steel of the structure come crumbling down heading into the weekend.

“[Construction workers] were digging around the foundation today,” the reader wrote in the email to WNA alongside the above photograph.

“Must have gone too deep and caused the eastside to collapse.”

Coro Realty and Southeastern Capital, the developers behind The Mill adaptive reuse project, confirmed the collapse in a prepared statement to WNA Friday.

“Today, Coro Realty and Southeastern Capital learned the eastern wall of the Excelsior Mill on North Avenue has collapsed,” a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

“We are in the process of discovering what exactly happened, but preliminary information leads us to believe it was related to excavation work being done on-site in accordance with the structural engineer’s specifications.”

Luckily “no one was injured” and “it will take some time to assess the damage and figure out the best way forward,” the statement continued.

The building’s “breathtaking original stone” and “exposed timbers” were supposed to be incorporated into the under-construction mixed-use office project called The Mill.

The Old Fourth Ward building dates back to as early as 1890.

The historically-designated structure most recently was home to The Masquerade music venue which has since relocated to Underground Atlanta.

In 1978, the Mill housed a pizzeria and barrio which featured everything from movies to bands to Shakespearean plays during its era of operation before becoming The Masquerade in ’89.

By the late 1960s, the buildings were used primarily as storage facilities.

“We are aware of the historic nature of these structures and have taken many precautions to protect them while we renovate and restore them.”

[Editor’s note: this article was updated with comments provided to WNA by The Mill developers Coro Realty and Southeastern Capital.]

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Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

Caleb J. Spivak

7 Responses

  1. Do you suppose decades of thunderous 130dB bass vibrating the whole place could have had some effect on the structure? It probably fell over from exhaustion.

  2. I’m always suspicious when historically protected structures collapse accidentally.
    Also, “In 1978, the Mill housed a pizzeria and barrio”. What is a barrio in this context? In Spanish the word means a neighborhood or district, not a type of business.

  3. Snafu my ass, they just didn’t want to preserve it. If they could’ve done it to the rest of the building I’m sure they would have.

  4. The Mellow Mushroom started renovation of the Excelsior Mill in 1978 and opened in 1980. I was the person directing the renovation. It saddened me when the Masquerade took it over and pretty much covered up a lot of the work we did. I was paid about $5 an hour base salary. The owners of the Mellow Mushroom provided me with labor when needed. Arkhora Architects led by Tony Smith did the design. I lived on the premises for two years and was protected by a beautiful yellow German Shepard named Symba. It was a rough area in those days. It heartened me to see it being renovated again. The part of the building that collapsed was the most interesting part with all the machinery used to shred the wood excelsior. The exterior of that building was never as strong as the main building. The walls were always a bit crumbly. We installed a new roof with trusses built from lumber already on site or salvaged from the old roof. It was a labor of love because as always it’s the owners that make the money.

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