Around 7 AM fire broke out at The Georgia Theater here in Athens. So far there’s no news at all on its cause. I found out about 7:30 or so and woke up a friend and made it downtown where crowds were slowly gathering. Five ladder companies were at work on the fire which appeared to be under control by 9:15 or so.
This is a sad day for Athens and Athens history.
While the Georgia Theater is best known these days from it’s incarnations as a music venue (briefly in the 70’s, reopening in 1989) it history is much deeper than that. My landlady used to take her children to the theater after riding the trolley to downtown. After it was the Georgia Theater for its first several decades it was The Carafe & Draft. And then it was the Georgia Theater again as we think of it today. There’s tons more detail but I’m much too tired now to get into it all. I have many fond memories of this building. Hell, I still have my t-shirt from when Pylon played the Theater’s grand “re-opening” in 1989. R.E.M. shot the video for “Shiny, Happy People” there. It’s where I met The Ramones. It’s where I saw G.W.A.R. get busted on a bogus obscenity charge (for which they sued Athens Clarke-County and won). It’s where I first saw The Butthole Surfers, The Pixies, Pere Ubu and many, many more.
Owner Wilmot Greene has already stated he is fully insured and will rebuild.
The Theatre, which employed between 30 and 35 full and part-time employees, is believed to be completely destroyed inside, but owner Wilmot Green said he’s been told the exterior walls are probably OK, he has insurance and he hopes to rebuild, according to information gathered from business editor Don Nelson.