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Georgia Theatre Gutted

11:01 AM Friday 6/19/09 | |

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.


  1. LASCENE wrote:

    11:28 AM, Jun 19, 2009

    Even if the do rebuild you cannot duplicate a Landmark!  RIP Georgia Theatre!