Historical timelines don’t get much more Ponce than this.
Consider: The landmark building at 551 Ponce de Leon Avenue began life in 1929 as the Garner-Wallace Hotel, a stately but short-lived lodge that fell victim to the Great Depression. Another hotel named for the avenue took over, where in the basement a restaurant called Mrs. P’s opened in 1956.
A decade later, Mrs. P’s would emerge as Atlanta’s original proudly LGBTQ-friendly bar, where the city’s first drag show went down and police raids were almost as common as leather western-wear.
Mrs. P’s bowed out in the 1980s. By 1994, the original location of Atlanta nightlife staple MJQ—named for owner George Cheng’s favorite band, Modern Jazz Quartet—took over, before uprooting a couple of blocks down Ponce a few years later.
Most recently, the old hotel functioned as Ponce Student Suites, offering affordable university housing for Georgia State, Georgia Tech, and Emory students before shuttering in 2017. The following year, developer Kim King Associates bought the property for $3.3 million, per property records.
Aside from trespassing graffitists, the ailing hotel was abandoned until redevelopment launched in 2019, preserving the three-story front section and adding a five-story annex for a concept called the Wylie Hotel. The 111-room boutique—a homey, classic place dubbed “The Friendly Hotel” in marketing materials—is expected to open in late spring, offering an alternative to another Ponce character, Hotel Clermont, down the street.
As construction enters final phases, Liz Young, the Wylie Hotel’s director of sales, led Urbanize Atlanta on a tour of spaces that will include an homage to the building’s roots: Mrs. P’s Bar & Kitchen, a comfy Southern eatery in the hotel’s basement, with an attached sunroom and outdoor terrace for public guests.
Check in at the gallery above for a look at where the building began, how it appears now, and what guests who arrive without touching anything but their smartphones can expect to find soon.
• Photos: Historic Midtown oddball 'The Castle' wants new lease on life (Urbanize Atlanta)