Feb 3, 2022 - News

Smyrna weighs fate of Aunt Fanny's Cabin

Aunt Fanny's Cabin in Smyrna

The former Aunt Fanny's Cabin has been condemned. Photo: Kristal Dixon/Axios

The city of Smyrna will take the next steps in addressing the fate of a cabin that housed a restaurant known for using racist stereotypes to prop up its business.

  • A task force appointed by Mayor Derek Norton recommended that Smyrna sell Aunt Fanny’s Cabin and remove it from city-owned property on Atlanta Road.

Driving the news: Since no proposals were submitted to buy and relocate the cabin, the City Council will discuss the next steps tonight, Smyrna spokesperson Jennifer Bennett tells Axios.

State of play: Days before the deadline to submit bids, a group of residents stepped forward and asked the city to keep the cabin in honor of Fanny Williams. Aunt Fanny’s was named after Williams, a servant of the family that owned the restaurant.

What they're saying: Shaun Martin, a Black Smyrna resident and member of the Save Aunt Fanny’s Cabin coalition, tells Axios that the city could renovate the building to serve as a center to educate people about Williams or as a culinary institute.

  • “There is no question that the name recognition of Aunt Fanny’s Cabin and her personality were key to its success,” Martin says. “We have to tell the whole story, no matter how uncomfortable it is.”
  • The Cobb County NAACP held a news conference Monday in support of the coalition’s efforts.

Go deeper: Read Axios' previous reporting for more about the history of Aunt Fanny's Cabin.

For Lisa Castleberry, keeping the cabin intact would do nothing to honor Williams.

Castleberry, a Black woman, worked part time setting up and busing tables as a teenager during the early 1970s at Aunt Fanny’s Cabin.

  • She tells Axios she didn’t understand the gravity of working in the restaurant featuring that kind of imagery as a teen, but later came to understand why the establishment was controversial.
  • “It’s like waving the Confederate flag in our face,” she says. “I want them to recognize Fanny Williams. She deserves that, but that cabin needs to go.”

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