Aunt Fanny’s Cabin demolished, taking an unwelcomed part of Smyrna history

The Aunt Fanny’s Cabin received an unexpected ending when Smyrna work crews demolished the historic cabin on Friday.

Plans had been in place to move the condemned structure to a cattle farm in the city of Mount Zion in Carroll County, where it would be restored by the new owner, Jim Lane.

Lane, who owns Ashley Limousin Farms, was unable to get permission from the local government to move the cabin to his property.

During a Thursday meeting, Smyrna City Council voted to demolish the cabin and move forward with other plans to honor Fanny Williams, who was the namesake of the former restaurant Aunt Fanny’s Cabin.

The building, known as Aunt Fanny’s Cabin, was a restaurant for nearly 50 years before closing in 1992. It has been criticized for presenting stereotypes of Black people. The servers were Black boys who wore wooden menu boards around their necks. Framed slave advertisements reportedly decorated the walls.

The restaurant was named after Fanny Williams, who was a servant of the Campbell family. They were original owners of the establishment and among the first settlers in Smyrna. Williams’ recipes helped to make the establishment famous for its Southern cooking.

Smyrna and the local Coalition to Save Aunt Fanny’s Cabin were at odds for months about the fate of the building. Earlier this year, the city decided to issue a request for proposals for new owners who could obtain the cabin for free — paying only for the expense of moving it to a new location.

Lane was one of three bidders. In March, Lane said that after the relocation he would consider utilizing it as a new restaurant space and replicating some of Aunt Fanny’s menu items. Lane did not immediately respond to messages left by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Smyrna successfully reached one of the two remaining bidders to inquire about taking possession of the cabin but they declined, according to a statement from the city.

The city plans to move forward with plans to honor Williams’ accomplishments as a Civil Rights activist with a memorial. Williams spoke out against the Ku Klux Klan and helped to raise money to build the state’s first all-Black hospital in Marietta, as well as Atlanta’s Wheat Street Baptist Church where she was a member. She died in 1949.