|THE FACE OF THE FUND: ATLANTA
From the Firemans Fund Record, Spring 1962.
Almost an old family in the South, Firemans Fund will soon be celebrating the 70th anniversary of its Southern Department.
Established in Macon, Georgia in 1895, the department has grown from a staff of four to one of 400. Its original one-room office has given way over the years to increasingly larger and grander accommodations. Last fall, the department headquarters was moved from mid-town Atlanta to a new $1,000,000 building in Lennox Square, a suburban development 12 miles from the downtown shopping area. Finished in brick veneer with pre-cast concrete masonry sun screens, the three-story structure has full air conditioning, non-glare lighting, a cafeteria and on-site parking.
The office manages the companys business in seven Southern states: Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia. It provides complete underwriting and claims facilities for all lines written by the company. Thirty-two special agents service more than 1,300 agents working out of key marketing areas.
Manager of the department is Vice President Thomas E. Sims who this March marks his 35th year with The Fund.
Firemans Fund began underwriting in the South early in its history but trimmed its business there after suffering severe losses in the catastrophic Chicago fire in October, 1871.
In 1895, the company decided to re-enter the area in earnest and Vice President W.J. Dutton was dispatched to Macon to set up a Southern department. It was the first departmental headquarters for a fire company to be established in the South. Dutton appointed as manager Edgar S. Wilson, secretary of the Macon Fire Insurance Company.
In 1897, Firemans Fund took over the Macons business, then, two years later, absorbed the Alabama Mutual Insurance Company. In 1914, the department headquarters was moved to Atlanta. The following year, the company reinsured the Atlanta Home Insurance Company.
Eleven years ago, The Funds first company-owned departmental headquarters was built in Atlanta. A two-story brick building at Peachtree and 14th Streets, it housed the staff until expanding business made it necessary to build the present offices.
While progress in the form of new business and new buildings is desirable, in some ways the old days are still one-up. For instance:
The old Macon office was in a building which had open fireplaces and bathrooms with tubs. On hot summer afternoons, the janitor would float a ripe watermelon in cold water in one of the tubs. Come five oclock, everyone had a slice. It was as good as air conditioning.
[Firemans Fund Archives: 4-1-3-4-82; 0414]
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