Atlas Obscura: Inside the Fight to Save an Overlooked Piece of Country Music History

A nondescript building in Atlanta, considered a birthplace of country music, may soon be demolished—and become a Margaritaville.

Supporters of the campaign to save 152 Nassau have been posting little paper hearts on the front of the building.
Supporters of the campaign to save 152 Nassau have been posting little paper hearts on the front of the building.

Tucked away on a side street street in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, it’s easy to overlook the two-story brick building at 152 Nassau Street NW.

A concert hall called the Tabernacle towers over it. So does one of the area’s newest tourist draws, a 20-story Ferris wheel. It hardly draws a second look from people headed for Centennial Olympic Park, CNN Center, or the gleaming new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, home of the 2019 Super Bowl.

But nearly a century ago, 152 Nassau was where a talent scout from one of the first American record labels set up shop to put some of the sounds of the American South on disc. The result was what historians consider the first commercial country record, “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane,” by an Atlanta musician named Fiddlin’ John Carson.

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Atlanta Loop: Margaritaville Restaurant and Resort Threatens Birthplace of Country Music

152 Nassau Street is the rightmost of the three center buildings. Image via Google Maps.

As Atlanta’s new developments take priority over its historic places, frustrations for city’s preservationists pop up almost daily. However, one particular plan has them fuming.

Plans for a two-story Margaritaville-branded restaurant and adjacent 21-story vacation club resort will demolish a small brick building at 152 Nassau Street, according to a petition started by local architect and preservationist with advocacy group Historic Atlanta Kyle Kessler. The problem is that building is widely considered to be the birthplace of country music.

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Creative Loafing: The little old brick building on Nassau Street

About to be evicted: Fiddlin’ John Carson stands outside his home in Cabbagetown in 1914 during the Fulton Bag & Cotton Mill Strike.

Country music’s first hit record was made in an unassuming office building in Downtown Atlanta, but proposed construction for a new Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville location could erase this bit of history forever.

The building, located at 152 Nassau St., currently houses a law firm but was once the location of a temporary recording studio set up by New York-based Okeh Records executive Ralph Peer. Plans for the development of a Downtown home for the Margaritaville restaurant chain, which boasts more than 30 outposts in the U.S. and abroad, were unveiled summer 2016. In response, Atlanta planning commissioner Tim Keane announced in May 2017 that the building and another structure on Walton were being nominated for historic designation to protect them from the threat of demolition by the proposed Margaritaville construction. The developer’s attorney contested the nomination which put it on hold. A demolition permit application was recently filed with the City of Atlanta associated with the construction of a Margaritaville restaurant and hotel.

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WSBTV: ‘Birthplace of country music’ to be torn down to make way for Margaritaville

ATLANTA – In downtown Atlanta, where so many things are new, a piece of history remains. Now, one group fears it may soon be gone, too.

The building at 152 Nassau St. is known to some as the birthplace of country music. It could soon be torn down to make way for a Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville.

“This is where the first commercially successful country album was ever recorded,” said Kyle Kessler, whose preservation group, Historic Atlanta, is fighting to save the building.

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Eater Atlanta: Parrot Heads Will Soon Waste Away at Margaritaville in Downtown Atlanta

Proposed urban resort includes a 14,000-square-foot restaurant, but takes out two historic properties

Demolition permits for two nearly century-old buildings — 141 Walton Street and 152 Nassau Street — were filed with the city to begin moving forward on building the Wyndham Destinations and Margaritaville Vacation Club overlooking Centennial Olympic Park and Skyview Ferris Wheel, Atlanta Business Chronicle (ABC) reports. Because, what downtown Atlanta really needs is a 22-story Margaritaville resort hotel and Jimmy Buffet theme restaurant to replace similar (failed) celebrity-driven concepts like Planet Hollywood.

keep reading at Eater Atlanta