The landmark Georgia Theatre in Athens, Ga., a longtime refuge for Athens acts like R.E.M. and The B-52’s, is no more. The theatre burned to the ground today, June 19, leaving just the brick exterior standing.
The fire began at around 7 a.m., and firefighters predicted early that the damage would be extensive. Former Athens Mayor Doc Eldridge said he saw a huge plume of black smoke when he arrived at his nearby office in the downtown business district.
Owner Wilmot Greene, 38, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution the building is insured and he would like to rebuild.
“The question is, do I have enough?” Green said. “Even if the insurance pays for it and we can rebuild it, it’ll never be the same. … They don’t build them like that any more.”
Greene, who bought the venue five years ago for $1.5 million, kicked in $750,000 in renovations.
“It was almost completely done,” he told the Journal-Constitution. “It was really beautiful. It was in better shape than it’s ever been in.”
The 850-capacity club was scheduled to host acts during next week’s four-day Athfest.
“I got three phone calls before 7 a.m.,” Green said. “Being a nightclub owner, I ignored the first two. By the third one, I figured I ought to answer.”
The club was also well-known to Widespread Panic, and has recently hosted shows by North Mississippi All-Stars, Robert Earl Keen and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.
The cause of fire was unknown at press time.
Click here for the complete Atlanta Journal-Constitution article.