|Cecil Abraham Alexander, Jr.|
14 March 1918|
|Died||30 July 2013
|Awards||Whitney Young Jr. Award, AIA|
|Buildings||Southern Bell Center, Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium|
Cecil Abraham Alexander, Jr. (born Henry Alexander, March 14, 1918 - July 30, 2013) was an American architect, principally a designer of commercial architecture, best known for his work in Atlanta, Georgia. He worked with the firm FABRAP, which, in 1985, became Rosser FABRAP International and is now Rosser International. Together with other architects of the firm, he "shaped the skyline of Atlanta".
Alexander was born to prosperous Jewish parents Julia (née Moses, 1882-1938) and Cecil Alexander (1877-1952) in the Virginia-Highland section of Atlanta. Cecil Alexander, Sr. was the owner of a successful hardware company, J.M. Alexander & Company, which he sold to King Hardware in 1947. Named Henry Alexander at birth, he was named after an uncle who was unmarried at the time. When he was five years old, his "Uncle Harry" had married and the couple gave birth to a son. It was decided that young Henry would relinquish his name to his younger cousin and would, instead, be named after his own father, Cecil Alexander, Sr.
Alexander attended the Marist School and graduated from Boys High School in Atlanta. He enrolled in 1936 at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he spent one year before transferring to Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where he served as managing editor of The Yale Record, the campus humor magazine, and received a bachelor's degree in architecture in 1940. He continued graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1946, following his military service in World War II, he enrolled in the graduate architecture program and earned his Masters Degree at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he studied with Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus school, which was a major influence on the development of modern architecture.
Alexander married Hermione "Hermi" Weill of New Orleans before serving in the United States Marines during World War II. While on active duty, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross twice. After the war, Alexander and Hermione had three children. Hermione died on October 25, 1983, when the car the couple was driving in was hit by a young drunk driver. Later, Alexander founded the Hermione Weil Alexander Fund Committee to Combat Drugged and Drunken Driving in her memory. He later remarried, this time to the former Helen Eisemann Harris, an actress and close friend of Hermione's.
Architecture and civic leadership
Alexander's architectural work includes many commercial structures. He helped design one of Atlanta's first International style buildings, a building for the Rich's Store for Homes.:9 Other works in Atlanta include:
- AT&T Midtown Center, formerly Southern Bell headquarters (1980), a landmark on the Midtown skyline
- Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (1965, razed 1997)
- Coca-Cola headquarters (1970, 1979, 1981)
- Georgia Power Company Corporate Headquarters
- Peachtree and 7th Building (now the Peachtree Lofts), Midtown
- State of Georgia Building (former First National Bank headquarters)
He designed just eight houses, including one "Florida modern"-styled one, and one other modern one being his own, the Cecil and Hermione Alexander House, one of the first modernist style houses in Atlanta.:9 His home was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in March, 2010.
He was active in civil rights and this sometimes caused disruption. After FABRAP had won a major commission, for a 40 story commercial tower slated to be the largest building in the Southeast of the United States, an executive of the firm asked for Alexander to be removed from the project.:17
Georgia state flag
He proposed an alternative version of the Georgia state flag, greatly reducing its emphasis on the controversial Confederate battle flag, which had been incorporated into the state flag in 1956. His proposal, which included an image of just a small version of the previous flag along with other previous state flags, was rejected at first. Under a later governor, Roy Barnes, after a slight modification accepted by Alexander the design was adopted. The new flag was itself very controversial. It served as the official state flag from 2001 to 2003, when it was replaced by another version that completely omitted the rebel flag.
He received the Whitney M. Young, Jr., award from the AIA for his work in civil rights. He also received the Ivan Allen Award for community service, and the Yale Medal in 1982 for distinguished alumni.
Mr. Alexander died on July 30, 2013. He was 95.
- Steven Moffson and Stephanie Cherry (February 2010). "National Register of Historic Places Registration: Cecil and Hermione Alexander House" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2010-04-03. (47 pages, with figures and 16 photos)
- Walton, Kiri (2013-07-31). "Buckhead Architect and Civil Rights Legend Cecil Alexander Dies at 95 - Obituaries - Buckhead, GA Patch". Buckhead.patch.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Southerland, Randy (2010-01-29). "Cecil Alexander (1918-2013)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2011-07-09.
- Alexander, Cecil A. (May–June, 2004) "The Pranks of Yesteryear". The Harvard Magazine. Cambridge: Harvard.
- Southerland, Randy. "'Sparkles' and 'Squinkles'". Georgia Magazine. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- Mitchell, Wright. "Hermi's Bridge: A love story". Reporter Newspapers. Retrieved 21 April 2014.
- "Cecil Alexander", New Georgia Encyclopedia
- "Perspectives in Architecture: An interview with Cecil A. Alexander Jr.", Atlanta Intown, September 1, 2011
- Atlanta History Center
- "Announcements and actions on properties for the National Register of Historic Places for April 2, 2010". Weekly Listings. National Park Service. April 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
- Jackson, Edwin L. ""State Flags of Georgia", New Georgia Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2008-05-15.
- "Cecil ALEXANDER Jr.". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. August 1, 2013. Retrieved 7 August 2013.
- "Cecil Alexander", New Georgia Encyclopedia
- Eve M. Kahn, "Updating a House of Tomorrow", New York Times, June 28, 2007