Update: On August 8th, A Fulton County Judge issued a temporary restraining order preventing a demolition crew from continuing to tear down the historic building. “Tough a sizable chunk of building was destroyed Thursday,” writes the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “the facade and much of the front end remains intact.”
On Tuesday, plans moved forward to replace a historic landmark of country music history with a Margaritaville hotel. Since 2017, the building located on Nassau Street in Atlanta, where Fiddlin’ John Carson once recorded what’s widely considered to be the first country-music hit in 1923, has been under threat of demolition from the beach-themed hotel and restaurant. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “a crew from Charleston-based LowCountry Demolition began gutting the historic building’s interior Tuesday.”
In 1923, Carson recorded his version of “The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane” for the legendary record scout Ralph Peer. “With the recording of Fiddlin John, the first southern white folk musician to have his songs recorded and marketed on a commercial basis,” writes Bill Malone in the country-music history bible Country Music U.S.A., “the hillbilly music industry began its real existence.”
In recent weeks, a petition to prevent the building’s demolition has garnered thousands of signatures.
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When the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed the developer’s design plans, they found that the “lot occupied by the historic building would be used for the dumpsters and grease traps next to the first-floor Margaritaville restaurant.”
“All the grease off those ‘Cheeseburgers in Paradise’ would end up where this building now stands,” Kyle Kessler, a local architect who has led the charge to preserve the building, told the newspaper. “I’m not a songwriter, but that would be saddest blues or country song you could possibly write.”
Margaritaville hotels, inspired by the songs and lifestyle brand of Jimmy Buffett, are currently open in Pensacola and Hollywood, Florida, and in East Tennessee. A Nashville Margaritaville is set to open in December.