MACON, Ga. - In just more than a month, Macon will be celebrating the opening of The Big House Museum.
That site, the home of Allman Brothers Band members Berry Oakley and Duane Allman and their families, has been restored as a shrine to the band.
Another building in Macon with equally deep ties to the Allman Brothers and Southern rock in general, however, faces a far different fate.
Barring a last-minute reprieve, the old Capricorn Records studio building at 548 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. is scheduled to be auctioned off Tuesday on the steps of the Bibb County Courthouse.
The building is valued at $433,000 and needs about $1.7 million in repairs and renovations, said property owner Alan Justice, a Macon physician. Justice had hoped to save the building by turning it into a nonprofit company with a working recording studio, cafe and small museum.
But his plans fell through about the time the national economy began to tank.
"We were in the process of forming a not-for-profit company when the bottom fell out," he said. "We had talked to banks, accountants and lawyers who specialized in tax credit deals."
During the financial meltdown, banks severely restricted loans. Now the building is facing foreclosure by Atlantic Southern Bank, which owns the note on the property.
Capricorn Records was founded in 1969 by the late Phil Walden, his brother Alan and the late Frank Fenter. That same year, Phil Walden convinced Duane Allman to put together the Allman Brothers Band, creating the unique stylings of Southern rock, an amalgamation of traditional rock, country and soul.
The Allman Brothers, along with other Capricorn acts such as the Marshall Tucker Band, Wet Willie, Grinderswitch and others, recorded there during the next decade before the company went out of business in 1979.
Phil Walden's recording studio was in the main part of the building, while Alan Walden, promoter of such acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, had an office in the adjacent building. Phil Walden's office was located in a now-vacant building on Cotton Avenue.
A wall on a neighboring building provided the backdrop for the cover of The Allman Brothers' album "Live At Fillmore East."
The Georgia Trust For Historic Preservation has recognized the historical significance of the property.
It's one of 25 sites that are candidates for the Georgia Trust's Places In Peril list.
Sites on that list qualify for help from the Georgia Trust, which works hand in hand with property owners to find solutions to rescue the property in question, said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Georgia Trust.
"It is in danger," McDonald said. "We're concerned about it. Not only is it important because of its historical association, but it also has architectural relevance.
"It's important to the future of downtown development."
The Georgia Trust's efforts, however, may really be a day late and a few dollars short: The Places In Peril list is officially announced Wednesday, one day after the Capricorn building is scheduled to be auctioned off.
"If it were to make the list, it would qualify for enhanced services with the Georgia Trust," McDonald said. "It might even open it up to receive some money, which might be advantageous for the sale."
However, given the timing of the auction, someone could buy the building and use the property for whatever purpose.
That would not sit well with the Georgia Trust.
"They would have the full force of our opposition," McDonald said. "We're opposed to the demolition of that building."
But finding an investor who could afford to restore the property and maintain it is a challenge.
Philip Walden Jr., Phil's son, said the city has plenty of shrines to the Allman Brothers Band already, including the Big House, the H&H restaurant and Rose Hill Cemetery, where Allman and Oakley are buried.
"As much as I would love for someone to come in and do something with it, at this point, we're accustomed to seeing it empty," he said. "I guess I'm not as sentimental as some people. I don't know what the solution is, short of someone with a ton of money buying it.
"I think it's wonderful what the Big House has been able to do for Macon. But when you've got the Big House, Rose Hill, H&H I don't know if Macon will be able to support more than that. What other function (could the building) serve? I think the Allman Brothers fans are served by the Big House and Rose Hill already."
Also of note is a proposed downtown revitalization project announced in April 2008.
The $29 million project is supposed to revitalize that part of downtown with new shops, a boutique hotel and restored buildings.
The Capricorn building was supposed to be a centerpiece of that project as a functioning recording studio.
Justice, who is also an investor in the redevelopment project, said it also has been hit by the downturn in the economy.
"That's hit a stumble in the road," he said. "Banks are putting so much restrictions on development."
Ronald Conners, the managing member of the development group for that block, said his investment group is having a difficult time borrowing money from banks because of the economy, but his overall development plan wouldn't be affected no matter what the fate of the Capricorn building is.
Justice, who said he has already spent about $15,000 in renovations to shore up the building's roof, said he doesn't see the economy recovering to the point where the building would be a viable investment for at least a year.
He said he hopes that whoever buys the building is someone who loves the history of it as much as he does.
"I grew up with the Allman Brothers and I wanted to hold onto it at all costs," he said. "If the right folks come together, they could do something. ... It's been personal for me."