Sam Massell was born on August 26, 1927, in Atlanta. After completing local public schools, Mr. Massell attended the University of Georgia, Emory University, and Atlanta Law School. He served twenty-two years in elected offices, including eight as President of Atlanta’s Board of Alderman and four as the city’s mayor from 1970 to 1974.  As mayor, Mr. Massell is credited with establishing MARTA and pioneering minority opportunities in city government. He subsequently ran a tourism business in Buckhead and in 1988 he became the founding President of the Buckhead Coaliton, an organization he continues to helm. He currently serves on the Boards of both the Atlanta Historical Society and the Buckhead Heritage Society.

Abstract of Interview

Sam Massell discusses the structure, purpose, and achievements of the Buckhead Coalition since its founding in 1988. The organization’s accomplishments are many and varied including its initiative to have defibrillators in public places in Buckhead, its campaign in support of the construction of the GA 400 extension, and its fight to preserve access to Piney Grove Cemetery, an African American burial ground off of Canterbury Road. Massell also recounts changes he has witnessed in Buckhead’s built environment, including the construction of Tower Place, Buckhead’s first high-rise building. He also discusses his involvement with the creation of MARTA during his mayoral term and mass transit’s effect on the Buckhead community.

Interview conducted by Erica Danylchak, February 14, 2012.

Read the transcript.


In the following video excerpt, Sam Massell discusses the development of Tower Place, Buckhead’s first high-rise building. The groundbreaking for the building was in 1974.

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