Court Order Stops Demolition of Recording Site of First Country Hit
The battle to save the downtown Atlanta, Ga., site where Fiddlin' John Carson made country music history seemed lost in early August, as an excavator began tearing down chunks of the building at 152 Nassau St. However, at zero hour, a judge's orders issued saved what's left of the building until an upcoming hearing.
Fulton County Judge Shawn Ellen LaGrua issued a temporary restraining order on Aug. 8, halting demolition of the building until at least an Aug. 29 hearing. Per the Associated Press, Atlanta resident and architect Kyle Kessler sued the city, claiming that officials didn't allow for due process in deciding to demolish the building. Since 2017, Kessler has spearheaded a movement to save the site where Carson cut the first commercially successful country hit, "The Little Old Log Cabin in the Lane," in 1923.
City officials, meanwhile, say they followed proper zoning procedures in creating new plans for the area on Nassau Street. The building's demolition would allow developers to incorporate the property into a planned hotel and Margaritaville restaurant. Per a July 29 report by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed issued the developers “a golden ticket” to demolish the building if they also built a Wyndham hotel standing at least 10 stories and costing at least $100 million.
Carson's Nassau Street session was recorded by Ralph Peer, an influential figure in the early development of country music. Five years later, Carson's commercial success inspired Peer to host what's now known as the "Bristol Sessions" in the twin cities of Bristol, Tenn. and Bristol, Va. -- a "Big Bang" moment in country music history during which Jimmie Rodgers and The Carter Family cut their first commercial recordings.
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