MACON, Ga. -- The Big House is about to become a big museum.
The Allman Brothers Band's old house on Macon's Vineville Avenue, which has been a law firm, a rental property and a private residence at times, is finally becoming a real museum.
Fans stopped by recently to tour the house and see the progress that has been made.
While Kirk West, the band's longtime photographer and tour manager, lived in the house between 1993 and 2007, he let people drop by to see his collection of the bands memorabilia.
Greg Potter, president of the Georgia Allman Brothers Band Association, estimates that 20,000 people visited the house when West lived there -- and that, he said, was without any advertising.
Now Potter, who is overseeing the house, is helping to turn West's home and collection into a real museum. It is scheduled to open in December with a $7 admission fee. The collection has about 200,000 pieces, said Potter, who took Museum Studies at West Georgia College to prepare for running the museum.
Currently there are no exhibits in the house. Instead, photos are placed on the floor showing where exhibits will be placed. Work still needs to be done on the house, too. The floors need to be polished -- and there is still a curb in front of what will eventually be the entrance to the Big House's parking lot next door. But Potter said work is on schedule and he is confident the museum will open its doors in December.
The building has a new roof and new heat and air conditioning, Potter said. And like many of the house's improvements, they were donated.
Potter said they have been "very lucky" to see such an outpouring of support from fans. Five flat-screen televisions have been given to the museum, he said. "This whole group, we're like a family," he said. "People just walk up to you and say 'what can I do.'"
Nazim Suli, of New York City, visited the house a few weeks ago.
He first came to visit Macon 33 years ago in 1976, when he took a bus down to see where the Allman Brothers members lived and their recording studio.
"This is where it all began," he said about the Big House. "Lots of history lays in this house."
Visitors seemed optimistic that the museum could draw people such as Suli to Macon again.
"This is going to be great for Macon," said Doug Montgomery, a Macon resident and Allman Brothers fan. "This is definitely part of Macon's history that is worth preserving."
Fans said there was something special about being in the house.
"If you're an Allman Brothers fan and you stand in Duane Allman's bedroom, it gives you a special feeling," said William Longest, a fan.
Frida Raley, who lives in Thunderbolt, Ga., said, "So many of the Allman Brothers' songs you can feel here."
She noted the band's song "Ramblin' Man" mentions Highway 41. "We're looking at it within spittin' distance," she said. "It happened here."
IF YOU GO:
BIG HOUSE: 2321 Vineville Ave., Macon, Ga.; http://www.thebighousemuseum.org/.