The M. Rich & Bros. Co. building is historically significant in two areas: Architecture and Commerce. Through the founding of M. Rich Dry Goods, in 1867, Morris “Mo” Rich steadily established his retail prowess within Atlanta and the Southeastern United States.
During this time of success, the business expanded and Morris decided to launch a store at the 82 Peachtree Street location. The property on Peachtree Street was the third store for Morris as his brother Emanuel joined him to expand their retail presence. Incorporating under M. Rich Brothers and Company, renovation of the Downtown space took place in 1906, as the emporium grew to host the latest in modern merchandise and became one of the largest and most complete department stores of its day.
A newspaper account heralded the new store as the “handsomest store in Atlanta.” Here, for the first time, two whole floors were utilized. This store boasted the first plate glass show windows in town, a feature that would be replicated when the store was torn down during the 1906 renovation that produced the subject building that had thirty-three percent more street frontage as a result of the acquisition of a third lot (52 Whitehall Street). It was among the first buildings to use plate glass windows for the display of goods to passing “window shoppers.”
The Rich brothers were instrumental in not only the commercial history of Atlanta but her cultural and religious history as well. Each of these men provided financial, as well as intellectual support for civic and cultural projects in the secular arena. The Rich family’s civic-mindedness contributed significantly to Atlanta’s early growth and success in becoming the leading commercial and cultural center in the Southeastern United States.