A country music landmark in Atlanta is under threat of demolition in order to make way for one of country music singer Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurants.
In Atlanta, Georgia at 152 Nassau Street there is an average looking brick building that most people probably pass by without any thought. That small building carries a piece of country music history, however, that most folks probably haven’t heard.
A song was recorded at 152 Nassau that became one of country music’s first hit songs.
While it might be a bit of a stretch to refer to it as “the birthplace of country music”, some have certainly called it that. Historic newspaper articles confirm that the building was used to record the 1923 hit song “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane”.
A colorful character called Fiddlin’ John Carson recorded the song for Okeh Records. It sold over a half a million copies, which was unheard of for what was considered at the time to be “old time” music.
Carson went on to record dozens of songs for the record label, making him one of country music’s first stars.
The building wasn’t a formal recording studio in 1923. Music producer Ralph Peer brought in recording equipment to capture Carson’s song in Atlanta where the musician lived.
At the time, music companies made most recordings in formal studios in New York City or Chicago using professional musicians. This is the first known hit song made by a local “hillbilly” artist.
Margaritaville Enterprises is a development company owned by Jimmy Buffett. Buffett has been building resorts and restaurants to fit the theme of his hit song of the same name. They announced plans to build a Margaritaville restaurant on the site a year ago. The company has obtained the necessary permits to build on the site.
Atlanta architect Kyle Kessler told the New York Times that he had already been researching the neighborhood when the developer announced the plans to demolish the building. Kessler found proof of the building’s historical significance. He took his concerns to Commissioner Tim Keane of the Atlanta Planning Office.
According to Curbed Atlanta, Keane awarded landmark status to the building in May of this year. Margaritaville Enterprises formally objected to the status, however. The proposal will come before the Atlanta Zoning Review Board Thursday at 6 PM.