The building that housed a restaurant known for its glorification of racist stereotypes could be demolished by the city of Smyrna.
Driving the news: A task force tasked with examining the fate of Aunt Fanny’s cabin recommended that Smyrna list the building for sale and remove it from city property on Atlanta Road.
- The task force, hosted by Mayor Derek Norton, will present its recommendation to City Council, which will have the final say.
- If no one bought the cabin, it would be demolished to make way for a memorial dedicated to Fanny Williams.
Catch up quickly: Aunt Fanny’s cabin was named after Fanny Williams, who was a servant to the Campbell family.
- In the restaurant’s early years, Williams – wearing a scarf and calico dress – sat on the porch and spoke to patrons about the Atlanta fire by General William T. Sherman, The Washington Post reported. at the time.
- The restaurant, which opened in 1941, was owned by Isoline Campbell, whose family were among the first settlers of Smyrna.
City Council Member Travis Lindley said the cabin portion of the restaurant had been moved from its original location to its current land next to the Smyrna History Museum.
- The city acquired the building with the intention of remodeling it into its visitor center, but those plans never materialized, he says:
What they say : Lindley told Axios that some members of the task force wanted the city to preserve the hut because of its history, but Smyrna must decide if it is worth it.
- Renovation of the structure could cost between $ 480,000 and $ 520,000, but a demolition could cost less than $ 400,000, according to city documents.
- “I am deeply disturbed that we are having this conversation,” Lindley told Axios. “I don’t think it represents our community.”
As it has grown, the restaurant has attracted visits from celebrities including Mickey Rooney, Doris Day, Jackie Gleason, Clark Gable, Joanne Woodward and Ty Cobb, Smyrna historian Mike Terry told Axios.
- Jimmy Carter even made a presidential campaign stop at the restaurant, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Velma Maia Thomas, an Atlanta-based scholar and independent researcher, told Axios that using submissive blacks to sell products was once a popular marketing angle for businesses.
- “It matches the tenor of the time,” she said.
Board member Lewis Wheaton also told Axios that research he and others conducted showed Williams did not benefit financially from the use of his name in the business and had no financial interest in it. the company.
- The restaurant, he said, fostered a revival of the “old south mentality,” which continued well beyond the 1960s.
- “What story are we telling by keeping the restaurant?” Wheaton asked. “What do this restaurant and the building symbolize and really, what are we preserving? “