“I am sufficiently convinced already that the members of a profession know their own calling better than anyone else can know it.”
Asa Griggs Candler (December 30, 1851 – March 12, 1929) was an American business tycoon who established the The Coca-Cola Company. He also served as the 44th Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia from 1916 to 1919. Candler Field, the site of the present-day Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, was named after him, as is Candler Park in Atlanta.
Candler was born on December 30, 1851 in Villa Rica, Georgia. His father was Samuel C. Candler. He started his business career as a drugstore clerk and manufacturer of patent medicines. In 1888 he bought the formula for Coca-Cola from its inventor John Pemberton and several other shareholders for $550. The success of Coca-Cola was largely due to Candler’s aggressive marketing of the product. Candler made millions of dollars from his investment, allowing him to establish the Central Bank and Trust Corp., invest in real estate, and became a major philanthropist for the Methodist Church. He gave an $1 million plus land gift to Emory University, a Methodist college, for the school to move from Oxford, Georgia, to Atlanta. This gift was influenced by Asa’s younger brother, Methodist Bishop Warren Akin Candler, who became president of Emory. Candler also gave millions to what would later become Emory Hospital. The school’s original library now houses classrooms and a reading room named for him, as well as endowed chairs in the school’s chemistry department.
In 1906 he completed Atlanta’s then-tallest building, the Candler Building, whose intricately detailed 17 stories still stands at Peachtree and Auburn. In 1912 the Candler Building in New York opened.
Candler was elected mayor of Atlanta in 1916 (taking office in 1917) and ended his day-to-day management of the Coca-Cola Company. As mayor he balanced the city budget and coordinated rebuilding efforts after theGreat Atlanta fire of 1917 destroyed 1,500 homes. In 1919 he gave most of the stock in The Coca-Cola Company to his children, who later sold it to a group of investors led by Ernest Woodruff. In 1922 he donated over 50 acres (200,000 m2) of his Druid Hills holdings to the City of Atlanta for what became Candler Park.
The “Candler Building” on the northeast corner of East Pratt Street and Market Place in eastern downtown Baltimore, still retains his name. The brick industrial styled building faces the waterfront of the “Basin” (later the famed “Inner Harbor“), of the Baltimore Harboron the Northwest Branch of the Patapsco River. Used as a regional headquarters for the Coca Cola Bottling Company, the structure was known for having brass door knobs engraved with “CC” for the company. Between the late 1930s and 1960, the building served as the national headquarters of the new Social Security Administration, authorized under the “Social Security Act” of 1935, under the “New Deal” programs of the administration of 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By 2000’s as the old waterfront area and municipal piers area were being redeveloped from commercial and industrial uses, the Candler Building was renovated for offices and some apartments/condos, with the nearby “Power Plant Live!” development of the David Cordish Company (of famed national commercial developer David S. Cordish), from the old massive streetcar coal-burning power-generating plant from 1900, across the street, into an entertainment and retail destination and district, where the former old Centre Market (also known as “Marsh Market” for the ancient colonial Harrison’s Marsh on the site), with its three neighboring buildings for wholesale fish, produce and dry goods, the oldest of the city’s eleven municipal market houses, since 1760’s.
Asa Candler was also a philanthropist, endowing numerous schools and universities as well as the Candler Hospital in Savannah, Georgia.