DETROIT (AP) — A legendary recording studio in Detroit that once welcomed artists such as Aretha Franklin and Miles Davis has received a historic marker just four years after being targeted for demolition.
United Sound Systems installed the approximately $5,000 sign last week after the Detroit Sound Conservancy helped it acquire a historic designation, MLive reported.
The studio was founded by Italian violinist and recording engineer James “Jimmie” Siracuse and holds bragging rights over the first single for Tamla Records — the label that would later become Berry Gordy’s Motown Records. But it shuttered its doors in the mid-2000s and the building was targeted for demolition in 2013 under a plan to widen I-94.
Federal authorities sought to seize the property last year. Court records show that investigators believe it was purchased in 2009 with money from cocaine trafficking.
A trial for Dwayne Richards, who authorities say bankrolled the building’s purchase for $20,000, is set for October.
State transportation authorities have backed off from demolition plans.
Detroit Sound Conservancy works to protect Detroit’s sonic history by hosting club and studio tours, preserving old recordings and restoring artifacts important to the Motor City music scene.
Conservancy founder Carleton Gholz said the studio’s story is not only a tale of great entertainment but also the narrative of two unique Detroit entrepreneurs.
“One was an Italian immigrant living the American dream, and the other was an African-American Detroiter living the American dream,” Gholz said. “I would honestly say that a lot of people don’t know [the history of United Sound Systems].
“That’s our role at the DSC, to explore how deep all this stuff is. We can’t take that for granted.”