The story of one of Old Fourth Ward’s oldest buildings lives on under its new name, Wylie Hotel.
Wylie Hotel’s parlor seating area.
Much like a cat has nine lives, it seems Wylie Hotel (@wyliehotel) does too. The newly reopened boutique hotel has worn many hats over the last 100 years—first in 1929 as Garner-Wallace Hotel, a residential hotel in a strip of motor hotels; then as 551 Ponce de Leon Hotel when it was reopened in the 1930s after the Great Depression; followed by Ponce Student Suites in 2014, which eventually fell into disrepair. It was even the original location of the legendary MJQ and Mrs. P’s drag show. If you’ve lived in Atlanta for some time, you’ve probably seen the historic property. Perched fittingly in Old Fourth Ward, one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods, the iconic building sits only blocks from some of the most popular attractions in the A—think Ponce City Market, the BeltLine and more. Luckily, the brains behind the space’s newest life as Wylie Hotel chose to honor its rich past and many iconic stories. “An important aspect of this project was maintaining the integrity of the building, and we wanted to find partners who aligned with that mission,” says GM James Green III. To do so, Kim King Associates and Ross Hotel Partners onboarded a handful of local affiliates for the project, including architectural firm Stevens & Wilkinson and interior design firm Pixel Design Collaborative. “Aside from their talent, we chose to work with both partners due to their understanding of the neighborhood, its importance and how to tie in small nods to the past throughout the hotel,” adds Green.
The classic Queen bedroom
Mrs. P’s lounge and bar area
The lobby seating area features eclectic art.
One walk through the reimagined boutique hotel, and its deep ties to the past are instantly clear to visitors, from the guest room hallways adorned with cover art from The Great Speckled Bird—an alternative publication in Atlanta in the 1960s and ’70s—to the mural of an astronaut seen in the lobby—inspired by the days when MJQ was a tenant—to the parlor area of the revised restaurant Mrs. P’s, featuring a replica of graffiti art that was painted on the building prior to it being brought back to life. “Inspiration for Wylie Hotel comes from Wylie Street, the first paved road on the edge of Old Fourth Ward, paying homage to the building’s historic roots,” adds Green.
The bar at Mrs. P’s
The newly designed lobby, which now resides on the first floor
One of the most remarkable aspects—aside from the 111 guestrooms, boasting six charming accommodation types, including two King suites—is Mrs. P’s. Opened as a restaurant in the “basement” of the hotel in 1956, the name paid homage to the owner, Vera Phillips. What began as a supper club with wooden booths—a big lunchtime attraction for the nearby Sears building (now Ponce City Market) with a $1.25 filet mignon special—eventually became Atlanta’s first openly LGBTQ bar in the 1960s, and is known as the spot where the city’s drag pioneer, Diamond Lil, began her performing career. Now, the space lives on with new sunroom and terrace dining areas in addition to the dining room and bar, each of which offers unique, nclusive experiences.
The chic parlor in the additional King suite.
One of the King suite bathrooms
For a building that’s so rich in culture and history, it can be hard to live up to its iconic past. But we have no doubt that the folks in charge have their heads and hearts in the right place. “Wylie Hotel provides a nod not only to the building’s history, but to the neighborhood’s history as well, including its nearly centurylong life on Ponce de Leon Avenue and its home as Atlanta’s first openly LGBTQ+ bar,” shares Green. “The space lends itself to its bespoke, anecdotal experience, offering up curiosities that bring to the forefront the things that make Atlanta, Atlanta.”
Mrs. P’s dining room
One of the new additions to Mrs. P’s, the sunroom.
Photography by: courtesy of Wylie Hotel