Allen, Ivan, Sr.
Ivan Allen Sr. was born in Dalton, Georgia on March 1, 1876. He became so successful at selling office supplies that he moved to Atlanta in 1895 to work for a larger firm. Allen eventually worked himself up through the ranks until he became the company’s owner. He made the Ivan Allen Company into one of the largest office supply firms in the world, and was the creator of the one-stop department store concept.
As successful as he was in business, Allen’s passion was to promote Atlanta to the nation and the world. Serving in such positions as president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and organizer of the Atlanta Rotary Club, he worked ceaselessly to present Atlanta as a great place to live and do business. In 1925, while Atlanta suffered under a sagging economy and many businesses were looking to Florida for the future, Allen organized the Forward Atlanta campaign. Within the span of three years some 17,000 new jobs were created in Atlanta. But Allen was not interested in business alone; he also collected rare maps, purchased and donated the land for Fort Mountain State Park, and even wrote two booklets explaining and praising Atlanta—Atlanta from the Ashes and The Atlanta Spirit.
Though out his life Allen continued to serve on various boards and committees, from government advisory positions to director of the Trust Company of Georgia. Allen never ceased singing the praises of Atlanta and almost daily walked its streets and conversed with its citizens around his home on Peachtree. He died at age 92 in Atlanta on October 16, 1968.