Historic Palms Grill Café has ribbon-cut
iconic business reopens
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[May 06, 2009]
ATLANTA -- In 2003, the Atlanta
Library and Museum found itself faced with a serious overcrowding
problem in its circa 1908 building. The Atlanta Museum, located in
the basement of the building, had run out of room to store and
display its artifacts, and the library desperately needed more space
for books, computers and more.
At approximately the same time, the Hawkins family of Atlanta gave
the library and museum the Downey Building, a two-story brick,
commercial structure built in 1867 and located across the street.
The library and museum now had a potential solution to its space
problems, but the question quickly became, "How can money be raised
to restore the Downey Building?" -- as it was in great need of
The library and museum decided to raise funds for this project by
leveraging the fact that the
Palms Grill Café, which was located in the Downey Building from
1934 through the late 1960s, was a popular spot on historic Route
66. A fundraising campaign was put into high gear, following this
Work was completed
in February 2004 to place the Downey Building on the National
Register of Historic Places.
applied for and received from the National Parks Service's Route
66 Corridor Preservation Program, the Illinois Bureau of
Tourism, the Landmarks Preservation Council and the Illinois
Prairie Community Foundation.
A major fundraising campaign was
conducted in the Atlanta community, with special focus on the
Atlanta High School Alumni Association.
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Over $375,000 was raised in grants and donations, which -- combined
with a construction loan taken out by the Atlanta Library and Museum
-- allowed restoration work to begin in 2006.
Following three years of restoration work, the Atlanta Museum was
moved out of the basement of the Atlanta Library and Museum building
into its new home in half of the Downey Building, and the Palms
Grill Café -- of which nothing remained from the original, circa
1934 café -- was re-created in the other half of the building.
The Palms Grill Café opened to the public again on April 28. The
Atlanta Museum reopened in its new home on May 4.
[From text supplied by Bill