“This was a crazy, insane house … basically a frat house, but to the 10th degree,” Conan O’Brien said of The Big House while interviewing Gregg Allman in May 2012. “Now, they’ve turned that house into a museum!” he marveled. The talk-show host and his legendary musical guest joked about how much work that must have taken. “To refurbish it, man, you just about have to jack that one up and roll a new one under it,” Gregg said, chuckling.
Although the three-story, Tudor-style building has certainly been cleaned and restored, it’s still the same place where many founding members of The Allman Brothers Band—with their family and friends—lived and played their iconic music. Drawn to Macon by a contract with Phil Waldren Records, Berry Oakley and his wife, Linda, first rented the Big House in 1970, less then a year after the band formed. Guitarist Duane Allman and his brother Gregg joined the couple, and soon a rotating cast of characters was coming in and out of the high-ceilinged rooms. Past the first floor’s parlor and through the french doors, a sunroom became the music room where the band would, in Berry’s words, “hit the note,” and the kitchen and backyard became fertile spaces for songwriting. But tragedy struck the band before long: in 1971, Duane died in a motorcycle accident, and in 1972, Berry died in another. The remaining family moved out soon after.
Today, the Big House showcases Duane’s 1975 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop guitar—which he played with more than half the time—and other instruments, handwritten song sheets, gold records, show contracts, and other band memorabilia. The room where Duane lived is preserved the way it was when he lived there in the 1970s complete with a leather jacket hanging in the closet.
After studying gymnastics in Russia, coaching two world-class gymnasts, and leading the Puerto Rican team at the 1999 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Al Garcia-Sanchez brought his three decades of experience to Kelbren Elite Gymnastics, where he's head coach. Now he and other instructors introduce kids as young as 1 year old to gymnastics. Students learn to master equipment such as the balance beam, vault, and rings, and Fitnastics classes augment backflip acumen with strength training and health tips.
The toddlers, teens, and adults who attend tumbling and dance classes at Broadway Performing Arts and Gymnastics reap health benefits: they become stronger and more coordinated as a result of their efforts. But there are psychological benefits, too. Students build self-confidence while expressing themselves through ballet or hip-hop, and when hours of practice turns into a successful handstand, they learn the value of dedication. Students who stick with the program can progress to join teams that foster friendly competition.