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Historic Country Music Site to Be Demolished, Replaced With Margaritaville Hotel

FILE - This July 19, 2017, file photo shows a two-story brick building, right, at the northwest edge of Atlanta's old downtown, where the first country music hit was recorded in 1923 by Fiddlin' John Carson. Last month, a Myrtle Beach-based developer planning to build a 21-story Margaritaville-themed hotel obtained a permit to tear the building down. Thousands of petitioners are hoping to stop the demolition. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

Since 2017, Atlanta residents and country music historians have fought to save the site where, in 1923, Okeh Records' Ralph Peer recorded Fiddlin' John Carson's "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane." The recording from a makeshift studio at 152 Nassau Street became the first hit record that we'd now define as country. In the bigger picture of country music history, it proved the commercial possibilities of the developing genre's better-known "Big Bang"--Peer's more famous 1927 sessions with Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family in the twin cities of Bristol, Tenn. and Virginia.

Unfortunately, recent news points more and more to the building's demolition in line with plans for a massive Margaritaville resort and restaurant that'll cover several lots in the same high traffic area as the CNN Center, State Farm Arena, Centennial Olympic Park and popular music venue The Tabernacle. In recent days, a crew began removing the building's wiring to prepare for its destruction.

Several articles over the past months explain Carson's importance and the fight to save the site led by Atlanta architect Kyle Kessler, yet none revealed quite as much about the politics behind urban development as a front page article from the July 29 edition of the Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC).

The AJC reports that former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed helped land the developers  "a 'golden ticket' to demolish the building if they built a Wyndham-brand hotel standing at least 10 stories and costing at least $100 million."

Not even a compromise that incorporates the building into the hotel design or uses signage or photos to commemorate the location's historic importance seems plausible at this point. Per the AJC, 152 Nassau Street will likely be used for the restaurant's dumpsters and grease traps.

There's at least one silver lining to this disappointing story: Kessler's online petition to save the building has well over 8,000 signatures, establishing public interest in music-related historic preservation.

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Historic Country Music Site to Be Demolished, Replaced With Margaritaville Hotel