The home of Robert and Jean Regenstein was at 1214 Mount Vernon Highway, in the area where Mount Vernon Plantation is today. David Long remembers the home, because he grew up across the road in a home on Potomac Way in the Potomac Hills neighborhood. The neighborhood was where Perimeter Pointe shopping center stands today, and the Long home sat about where the MARTA parking deck is located. Builder and developer E. Sam Jones built the subdivision.
The Regensteins were part of the family that owned and operated historic Regenstein’s department store. Julius Regenstein opened the store in 1872, after coming to the U.S. from Germany in 1826. Robert Regenstein was the son of Joseph Regenstein and grandson of Julius Regenstein.
Robert Regenstein worked at the store as a floor manager before he served in the U.S. quartermaster division during World War II. He was stationed at Barksdale Army Airfield in Louisiana when he met his future wife, Jean Loretta Belcher. They married in Valdosta, Georgia, in 1942. (The Times (Shreveport, Louisiana, January 25, 1942)
After the war ended, the couple built their home on Mount Vernon Road. Robert worked as vice president of Regenstein’s and later became chairman. He also was chairman of the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority for many years and served on the Board of Directors of C & S Bank.
Regenstein’s Department Store was one of the early dry goods stores in Atlanta, located on Whitehall Street along with M. Rich and Brothers (Rich’s), J. P. Allen Company, Davison-Paxon-Stokes, and the Chamberlin-Johnson-DuBose Stores. The DuBose family had a summer home in the fork of Chamblee Dunwoody Road and Roberts Drive.
Regenstein’s moved to 209 Peachtree Street at the intersection of Cain Street, which is now Andrew Young International Boulevard. The store was known as an excellent place to purchase women’s clothing and formal dresses.
By 1972, the store’s 100-year anniversary, there was also a Regenstein’s in Buckhead, at North DeKalb Mall and Perimeter Mall. The company ran an ad in the Atlanta Constitution to celebrate their anniversary, sharing both thoughts of the past and the future. “Come back with us a bit to 1872 when Julius Regenstein opened the store at 70 Whitehall Street for the sale of fine millinery, boots and shot guns, saddlery and corsets.”
Robert Regenstein added, “Perpetuating the tradition that my grandfather began, we shall continue to bring fashionable goods, of the best quality, at the fairest prices to our patrons.” In 1976, Regenstein’s was sold to a Texas company. The store closed for good in 1994.
According to “Atlanta and Environs,” by Franklin Garrett, Regenstein’s was the first merchant in the South to employ a woman salesperson. Her name was Martha Owens.
Jean Regenstein opened their home for the Sandy Springs Garden Club tour of homes in 1973. (Atlanta Constitution, September 22, 1973, “Sandy Springs Tour October 11”)