published Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Group acquires R.E.M. steeple in Athens, Ga., hopes to save it

ATHENS, Ga. — A nonprofit organization has acquired a steeple with hopes of protecting the spire, which is all that remains of the Athens church where R.E.M. played its first concert in 1980.

Bob Sleppy, executive director of Nuci's Space, said the nonprofit acquired the steeple earlier this year from its previous owners, Steeplechase Condominiums.

Sleppy tells The Athens Banner Herald that the immediate goal is to stabilize the steeple. Eventually, he said, a fund-raising effort might be needed.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation says R.E.M. played its first show at St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Athens, Ga., on April 5, 1980.

The steeple has been in danger of being torn down. City officials at one point ordered the spire to be either restored or destroyed, but it survived.

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