Overlooked spaces. Forgotten places.
Little-known objects and obscure artifacts.
In this first installment of a new photographic series, Emory Magazine unveils a few secret locations and treasures that hide on Emory’s campuses. Get an insider's look at a stonework ruin obscured by a lush landscape. Discover an impressive art collection that's tucked away inside Goizueta Business School. And learn about the notorious (and well-preserved) letter that marked the dismissal of one of Emory's biggest benefactors.
Photographs by Kay Hinton
Text by Roger Slavens
Design by Elizabeth Hautau Karp
There’s a small, granite-block tower that resides on the Lullwater property at Emory. Mostly covered by trees and vines, the partial ruin sits empty—except for the graffiti and Latin phrases spraypainted inside that signify its occasional use as a clandestine meeting spot for Emory secret societies over the years. Yet the tower is no centuries-old relic of defensive fortification, but rather the remnants of a former powerhouse that once brought electricity to Lullwater House—which now serves as the Emory presidential residence. When Walter Candler, the second-youngest son of The Coca-Cola Company founder Asa Griggs Candler, developed the estate in 1925, DeKalb County had not yet extended its electrical grid that far into the country. So Candler had a dam built on the northernmost end of South Peachtree Creek and created a spillway that powered a generator—hidden by the castle-like turret—to supply electricity to the house. The machinery has long since been removed and the decaying tower has been left as a reminder of Lullwater’s past.
Lullwater Tower today (in ruin, left) and circa 1930.
Emory students and secret societies have left their marks inside the Lullwater Tower ruin.
The next hidden work you will see is Red, Black, and Yellow Circles, 1973 by Alexander Calder, an artist most famous for his sculptures, but whose textile is housed as part of the impressive Balser Art Collection in Goizueta Business School. The collection contains more than 180 pieces of art, including recognizable works by Picasso, Warhol, Chagall, Lichtenstein, Rauschenburg, Dali (whose Chevalier Surrealiste, 1930 is also featured here), and others. These artworks were donated to the Goizueta Foundation Center for Research and Doctoral Education by Ron and Barbara Balser, co-chairs and CEO of the Balser Companies. Their daughters, Ginger Balser Reid 93BA and Laura Balser 94BBA 01MBA, and son-in-law, Matthew Smith 01MBA, are all Emory alumni. When the Balsers were approached to make the donation, the couple did not merely want to write a check; they wanted to be an integral part of the process, according to an article in the spring 2006 issue of Goizueta Magazine. The Balsers looked through their existing collection, as well as auction houses and art dealers to find the right pieces for the school—a combination of contemporary and international works specifically chosen to be consistent with Goizueta’s goals.
Red, Black, and Yellow Circles, 1973 by Alexander Calder
Chevalier Surrealiste, 1930 by Salvador Dali
Inside the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library resides a laminated 1909 letter from then Emory College President James A. Dickey to the father of young Robert W. Woodruff 1912C, who had enrolled when the main campus was still in Oxford. The letter suggests Woodruff pause his education to refresh himself after just one semester of indifferent studies (effectively dismissing him). But this proved only a temporary setback for Woodruff, who would go on to join the family business at The Coca-Cola Company and eventually become its president—as well as the driving force behind making Coke a global soft drink sensation. Despite his brief stay as a student, Woodruff remained enamored with Emory and its mission, enough so that in 1979, he and his brother George made a $105 million gift to the university, the single largest donation to an educational institution ever made at that time. Overall, Woodruff directed more than $230 million in gifts to Emory during his life. Fittingly, a tradition was also inspired by Woodruff’s short stint at Emory whereby any student who completes two semesters is officially considered an alum.