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As Supporters Gather, Future Of Former Atlanta Music Studio Still Unclear

Kyle Kessler, the architect hoping to keep the former music studio at 152 Nassau St. safe from the wrecking ball, has dropped his lawsuit against the city less than a week after it was filed. 
Kyle Kessler, the architect hoping to keep the former music studio at 152 Nassau St. safe from the wrecking ball, has dropped his lawsuit against the city less than a week after it was filed. 
Credit Ron Harris / Associated Press

A court hearing over the future of a piece of Atlanta music history that was scheduled for Thursday has been postponed.

A preservation group is suing the city to stop a developer from continuing to tear down the former music studio at 152 Nassau St. where the first country music hit was recorded nearly a century ago.

The stop-work order issued by a judge earlier this month remains in effect until the hearing takes place.

Those who hold out hope for the building’s survival gathered earlier this week to show their support.

Randy Owens played an acoustic guitar and sang to kick off a benefit show Sunday in a bar across the street from the former recording studio. Owens says the studio represents a piece of music history.

“I think it’s important to preserve our past, landmarks like that. I think it’s important. I was all about saving the Fox [Theatre] back in the day,” Owens said.

Supporters of saving the former music recording studio at 152 Nassau St. in Atlanta gathered Sunday for a fundraising benefit show. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)
Supporters of saving the former music recording studio at 152 Nassau St. in Atlanta gathered Sunday for a fundraising benefit show. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Owens is a member of the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame, an organization co-founded by Fiddlin’ Johnny Carson. It was Carson’s grandfather who made that historic recording on Nassau Street in 1923.

When efforts to have the studio declared a historic landmark fell short, Historic Atlanta Inc. sued the city.

The preservation group argues that Atlanta bypassed normal procedures when it made an agreement with the developer of a 21-story, Margaritaville-themed hotel.

The city claims preservationists have no standing in the case and the agreement was by the books. The developer is eager to move forward.

But architect Kyle Kessler has been spearheading the effort to save the studio.

“There are people that are still interested in this history and are still learning about it as well,” said Kessler, referencing the crowd gathered for the benefit show. “And that’s been what I’ve wanted to do this whole time is to make sure people are aware of that history. Once they’re aware, they can choose what to do with it.”

Kessler maintains he isn’t trying to block a developer from building the hotel. He just wants the studio preserved and thinks it still can be despite the partial demolition that was halted by a judge’s order on Aug. 8.

Beth Haynes, a neighbor who came to the benefit fundraiser, agreed.

“We’ve just lost too much,” Haynes said. “We’ve walked away from too much of our history, and this was just one that we could put our foot down about.”

No date has been announced for the rescheduled hearing.

Correction: The Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame was co-founded by Fiddlin’ Johnny Carson. It was Carson’s grandfather who made the historic recording at the Nassau Street studio in 1923. The story has been updated.