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Oakland Resident Spotlight: Maximilien Van Den Corput

Max Corput

Max Van Den Corput

by Larry Upthegrove
A Belgian immigrant, Maximilien Van Den Corput served as a Civil War captain and designed some of 19th- and early 20th century Atlanta’s noted buildings. 
Max and his brother Felix came to the United States in 1848 with a group of 25 Belgian countrymen.  These were affluent farmers and professionals who were tired of the political situations in Europe, and dreamed of becoming the landed gentry of the Old South.  After arriving in New York City, the group moved south to Charleston and finally settled in small groups scattered throughout Floyd County, Ga.
One group headed by Henry Carlier settled just east of Rome, near the Etowah River at a place called Carlier Springs, where a dozen springs bubbled from the ground. Another group settled near the base of Mt. Alto, and the Corputs settled near Cave Spring to raise grapes and other foods.  Within a few years, most of the Belgians returned home, but Max and Felix fell in love with the South, remaining to become a part of the community.
When the Civil War spread across the nation, Max used his engineering background to aid him in commanding the Cherokee Artillery, an artillery battery with three six-pound guns furnished by the State of Georgia and one iron, rifled, gun from the Noble Foundry of Rome.  In the war, they fought in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.  By January 1863, they were ordered to Vicksburg and were overrun at Champion’s Hill, losing all their guns.  They surrendered at Vicksburg, but were back in action with new guns at Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge.
Today, Georgia Railroad Freight Depot is an events facility.

Today, Georgia Railroad Freight Depot is an events facility.

At Resaca on May 15, 1864, their battery was placed some 80 yards in front of the Confederate fortifications and suddenly overrun by two Union brigades who were then chased away by the Confederates. The most dramatic portion of the day’s action was back and forth fighting over Corput’s guns with the Federals being the last to hold them.  Corput and his men received no more guns but were split up and dispersed among other depleted units of the army.  Corput served in the Nashville Campaign of December 1864 and was captured in the battle of Salisbury, North Carolina on April 12, 1865.  The war ended with he a prisoner at Camp Chase, Ohio, pardoned and sent home in October of 1865.
The original, two-story Georgia Railroad Freight Depot

The original, two-story Georgia Railroad Freight Depot

After the war, Max partnered with architect Calvin Fay in a firm called Van Den Corput and Fay.  One of their most important early projects is the design of the Georgia Railroad Freight Depot.  Built right next door to what today is Underground Atlanta, the depot caught fire in the 1930’s and was reduced to a one-story building. Today it stands as the oldest building in downtown Atlanta and is used as an events facility.
In 1870, Belgian Consul Laurent DeGive
The DeGive Opera House, later renamed the Bijou.

The DeGive Opera House, later renamed the Bijou.

purchased an unfinished building at the corner of Marietta and Forsyth streets, the site of the old Kimball opera house. DeGive hired Ven Den Corput and Fay to convert the building into a performance facility, DeGive Opera House.  The building was completed in 1871 and remained in use until 1921.  In its later days, it was called the Bijou Theater.
Perhaps Corput is best known for his 1871 design for Atlanta’s second Union Station.
The second Union Station, designed by Van Den Corput and Fay.

The second Union Station, designed by Van Den Corput and Fay.

The 1853 station was destroyed by the Federal Army in 1864 and the second station was replaced in 1930. as pretty as it is in the picture will be outdated in about 60 years and need replacing in 1930.
Today, Max Van Den Corput rests beneath the sweet soil of Historic Oakland Cemetery, about 50 yards from his business partner Calvin Fay. Max’s grave had gone unmarked for 103 years until Saturday, October 18, 2014. The Sons of Confederate Veterans Capt. Max Van Den Corput’s Battery Camp #669 had a headstone carved and installed to remember their namesake.
Van Den Corput's headstone at Oakland Cemetery.

Van Den Corput’s headstone at Oakland Cemetery.

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