The story begins in the early 1950’s, when Holiday on Ice installed a temporary ice surface in the old City Auditorium. The night before the show opened, a large crowd of Atlantans were invited to skate. Bill Barg and Mary Bohland of Holiday on Ice took notice of this interest and in late 1955 opened the “Figure 8” rink in a building at the Lakewood Fairgrounds. Henry Lie (Lee) and Fran Pappas were the instructors, and Jerry Smith was the engineer.
Management set aside two hours on Monday nights for a figure skating club to meet. Thus the Atlanta Figure Skating Club was formed. The Club was originally all single adults, and only two were U.S. Figure Skating members, Rud Ellis and Robin Watts. As interest in figure skating grew, a Junior Club was organized, and Fran Pappas taught group lessons during the Club time.
Unable to obtain a suitable lease at Lakewood from the city or to find an alternate location, the club moved to a garage of Paul Jones’ wrestling arena on Houston St. in downtown Atlanta. A post was in the center of the ice! It was here that judges were brought in from St. Louis to judge the first figure tests and AFSC gained U.S. Figure Skating membership.
Management continued to look for a better location. The pipes were actually moved to Broadview Plaza (now Lindberg Plaza), but a lease could not be worked out, so the rink equipment was sold and moved to Augusta, GA. All was not lost, however, because Mrs. Carling Dinkler Sr. had taken up skating and had built a small Belvedere Rink in Decatur.
Meanwhile, the Nicol brothers started building the first Igloo Rink, a 60×100 surface on Roswell Rd. in Buckhead. The Club moved there and skated for several years. Fran Pappas led several Carnivals, which were about as good as could be held on the limited ice surface, before the Igloo was torn down and replaced by a full size rink, which was nicknamed “The Bigloo.” During the time of the Igloo, Atlanta enjoyed a boom in building ice rinks, none of which exist today.
Bruce Stultz worked at the Igloo long enough to see that a rink was needed for training competitive figure skaters. He built the rink at Parkaire Mall and hired Lynn Dixon Thompson to run the training program. The AFSC moved to Parkaire and hosted its first U.S. Figure Skating competition, the 1976 South Atlantic Regional Championships. Later, the Mall was completely rebuilt, and a separate building constructed to house the present day Marietta Ice Center.
In 1997, the club moved to the two surface facility, The Cooler in Alpharetta.
History submitted by Rud Ellis, founding member of the AFSC.