Rising high above Oconee Street just east of downtown, the red-brick steeple seen above has long been known as a beacon of Athens music. The structure, on the site of the Steeplechase condominiums, is all that remains of the 145-year-old St. Mary’s Church, the site of R.E.M.’s first-ever live performance in 1980 (and, at the time, the home of Peter Buck, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry).
But the steeple has been neglected since the church was torn down in 1990, and has fallen into serious disrepair of late.
Last October, Flagpole reported on the efforts of Nuçi’s Space to rescue the steeple, which was scheduled for demolition in 2011 but ultimately saved through a deal that allowed the musicians’ resource nonprofit, which sits adjacent to Steeplechase, to take ownership of the property.
Today, Nuçi’s Space launched “Reconstruction of the Steeple,” an Indiegogo campaign to restore the dilapidated landmark to its former glory.
Partnering with high-profile Athens musicians past and present, including members of R.E.M., the B-52s, Pylon, Widespread Panic, Neutral Milk Hotel, Drive-By Truckers, of Montreal and Danger Mouse, the campaign seeks a whopping $250,000 to secure and renovate the aging structure, as well as to fund the center’s programs—including mental and physical health assistance for musicians and the popular Camp Amped series for kids—for the next year.
In addition, Nuçi’s Space plans to build a “meditation garden” around the newly restored steeple (see drawing below). The space is envisioned as “a place of peace for all of the clients who tap into our various services.”
To view the list of rewards offered to campaign donors, including limited-edition Drive-By Truckers posters, Pylon stage props, an R.E.M.-autographed Rickenbacker, actual bricks removed from the steeple during a recent stabilization project and much more, check the Indiegogo page.
The campaign will wrap up on Dec. 13.
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