'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.

“Atlanta’s not known for its margaritas. We are known for music. We are known for other things,” Kessler said.

He told Channel 2's Justin Wilfon that it was nearly 100 years ago that Fiddlin' John Carson recorded the first-ever country hit record in the building.

“We have plenty of other places to put in a Margaritaville. We’re standing in a collection of parking lots,” Kessler told Wilfon as they walked around the area.


Wilfon obtained a copy of the developer’s plans, which includes not only a Margaritaville restaurant, but a hotel, as well.

Kessler learned on Thursday that developers applied to the city of Atlanta to begin demolition of the building.

“It’s nerve-wracking, not knowing how much longer it’s (going to be) standing,” Kessler said.

Last year, the city briefly considered making the building a historic landmark.

Wilfon attempted to contact Margaritaville and two attorneys who are representing the development. Wilfon still has not heard back from anyone.

Last year, one of those attorneys told the city, “We believe this is a basic issue of playground fairness.”

Kessler believes the building is historic ground and still hopes to save it.

“We don’t know what we’re going to (be) missing out (on) for future generations,” Kessler told Wilfon. “If we don’t keep some of these buildings around.”

Nothing is official until and unless the city approves that demolition application.

Kessler said he’ll keep fighting until the wrecking ball shows up.