Beside highway I-71 sits an abandoned red-bricked building with chipped paint and broken windows in Evanston, OH.
This is the former headquarters of King Records. Founded in 1943, it was once one of the largest recording companies in the country.
This studio is credited for launching the career of James Brown, and it might have been the first racially integrated record company in the country.
The owner is considering its demolition, despite support from a united city council for the preservation of the building.
Saturday, members of the Cincinnati community came together at Horzog Music to discuss the status of the fight for the preservation and restoration of the historic studio space.
The organizer of the event, Elliot Ruther, 43, of Clifton, said, “What happened at 1540 Brewster is a real essence of civil rights in the United States…[it] changed the world musically and culturally, and it’s a pleasure to work with folks to keep that present and alive.”
Among those present was the award-winning King Records’ former studio drummer Philip Paul, 92, of Evanston.
Paul said, “We have to engage the whole community, not just the musicians or people in the music business. We’re talking about going into a neighborhood that’s tainted…we have to speak honestly and maybe we’ll get this done.”
Blueprints of a possible restoration plan were shown during the meeting. Anzora Atkins, the president of Evanston Community Council and a 48-year resident of the town, was also present.
“We must accentuate the positive and downplay the negative in order to keep going,” Atkins said. “We can’t keep talking about the decline in Evanston. We’re talking about revitalization, and that is with King Studios…it would be a great history and legacy for the community of Evanston.”