Today marks the 64th anniversary of the deadly Winecoff Hotel fire in downtown Atlanta on December 7, 1946. All told, 119 people lost their lives in the fire. It was, at the time, the deadliest hotel fire ever. It remained the world's deadliest hotel fire until Christmas Day 1971, when 163 people perished in a blaze that overtook the Hotel Taeyokale, in Seoul, South Korea.
In the aftermath of the tragedy, gospel singer Lee Roy Abernathy, a native of nearby Bartow County, memorialized the event on this 78rpm record. Abernathy himself narrowly escaped the peril of the fire. He had a permanent room at the Winecoff, but made a last minute decision to head for his north Georgia hometown after a friend came through with a few gallons' worth of gas coupons at a time when post World War II rationing was still in effect. Abernathy went on to enjoy a long and successful career as a gospel musician and studio owner, eventually earning induction into the Georgia Music Hall Of Fame (1989) and the Southern Gospel Music Hall Of Fame in 1996.
The Winecoff Hotel still stands, though it's now known as the Ellis, a swanky boutique style hotel that opened in 2007.