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History of Georgia State University

Sheltering Arms Building

Image 1.1 Sheltering Arms Building In 1931, this was the first building purchased by Georgia State.

Kell Hall

Image 1.2 Kell Hall Kell Hall is a converted parking garage, originally built in 1920.

Sparks Hall

Image 1.3 Sparks Hall One of the University's obsolescent facilities is now scheduled for replacement with a state-of-the-art humanities building. (built in 1955)

Fairlie Poplar

Image 1.4 Fairlie Poplar Georgia State now occupies seven buildings in this historic district.

Georgia State University has grown from its 1913 origins as the Georgia School of Technology’s “Evening School of Commerce,” into one of the nation’s leading urban research universities. Once known for the study of “the new science of business,” Georgia State today offers students a choice of more than 250 fields of study in 52 accredited degree programs and is among the top 100 public universities in the number of doctoral degrees awarded.

Georgia State has evolved with the city and its people. (See Figure 1.1) It became known as the Atlanta Extension Center of the University System of Georgia in the 1930’s. Evening students earned degrees through the resources of several colleges within the state system. The school was also informally known as the Georgia Evening College, granting business degrees, and Atlanta Junior College until 1947. Renamed the Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia, then Georgia State College of Business Administration in 1955, Georgia State College in 1961, and finally Georgia State University in 1969, the school and its needs continue to reflect its place in time.

The name has evolved with the mission

  • • 1913 – Georgia Tech’s Evening School of Commerce holds classes in Sheltering Arms Building. (See Image 1.1)
  • • 1933 – Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degrees added.
  • • 1947 – Regents change name to Atlanta Division of the University of Georgia.
  • • 1955 – Renamed Georgia State College of Business Administration.
  • • 1961 – Curricula expanded, diversified, name abbreviated to Georgia State College.
  • • 1964 – General Studies and Business schools added.
  • • 1967 – Education and Allied Health Sciences schools added.
  • • 1969 – University status gained, all schools become colleges, renamed Georgia State University.
  • • Post 1969 – Colleges of General Studies, Urban Life, and Law added.

Georgia State began a decade of significant growth in 1965:

  • • 1965 – University Center constructed to house student activities and dining.
  • • 1966 – University Library designed to hold more diverse collections as curricula expanded.
  • • 1968 – Business Administration Building built to address increasing importance of technology in education.
  • • 1970 – Art and Music Building added to make way for university’s first plaza, establishing unique gathering space for students and campus presence within city.
  • • 1974 – Urban Life Center built, largest campus facility to date.

The university continued to build, purchase, and accept real property in response to the steady growth of its student population. (See Image 1.2 and Image 1.3) Georgia State expanded its boundaries in 1992 across Peachtree Street into Atlanta’s historic Fairlie Poplar District. (See Image 1.4) Today the institution occupies seven buildings in this neighborhood that has dozens of buildings listed on the National Register. One neighborhood building is the eleven-story Flatiron building which predates the famous New York edifice of the same name by seven years. Georgia State now occupies more than 40 buildings in downtown Atlanta. (See Figure 1.2)