John Wellborn Root (1850-1891)
Atlanta, the Equitable Building.
Root was born in Lumpkin in 1850 and grew up in Atlanta. During the Civil War (1861-65) his father, Sidney Root, a prominent Atlanta merchant, sent his young son out of the city on one of his blockade-runners to attend school in England. Later, after finishing school in New York City, Root went to Chicago, Illinois, to join Daniel Hudson Burnham in one of the pioneering architectural firms there. This firm made both structural and design contributions to the late-nineteenth-century evolution of the skyscraper form. Root, in particular, developed ideas about the design and philosophy of commercial architecture and communicated those ideas in the architectural journals of the period. Among the firm's most notable buildings in Chicago were the Monadnock and Rookery Buildings, both of which are still standing.
In Atlanta the firm designed the Equitable Building (later the Trust Company of Georgia Building) in 1890 for the Atlanta developer Joel Hurt. historic preservation movement was getting under way. Its massive columns and name panel now adorn the SunTrust Bank Building (built as Trust Company of Georgia) across from Woodruff Park. The Equitable Building was the only structure Root is known to have designed in Georgia, although there are undocumented reports of others.
Upon returning to Chicago after delivering the Equitable plans in Atlanta, Root contracted pneumonia. He died on January 15, 1891. Only a few months later, on June 26, 1891, Atlantans praised his building with elaborate cornerstone ceremonies.