By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The small, boyhood home of rock legend Little Richard has been spared the wrecking ball and will be moved to make way for an interstate highway, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The piano-pounding performer who became internationally known for his 1950s songs, "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly" was born in Macon, about 90 miles south of Atlanta, during the Great Depression. Known for his pompadour hairstyle and flamboyant costumes, he is now 80-years-old and living in Tennessee.
The two-bedroom home in a poor neighborhood of Macon was facing demolition for an interstate highway expansion but will be purchased by the Georgia Department of Transportation and moved three blocks where it will be converted into a neighborhood meeting place, state transportation spokeswoman Natalie Dale told Reuters.
The renovated home will include historical information on the lives of Little Richard, whose real name is Richard Penniman, and other prominent people in the Pleasant Hill neighborhood, said Sam Henderson, executive assistant to Macon Mayor Robert Reichert.
The two-bedroom, 850 square-foot home, was constructed in 1920 and is valued at $21,781, according to Bibb County property tax records. By contrast, Little Richard's current home in Lynchburg, Tennessee has 5,900 square feet of space, is on 13.9 acres and is valued at $367,000, according to Moore County, Tennessee property records.
Little Richard was among the first 10 artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986 along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and James Brown.
On Saturday, Mercer University in Macon awarded Penniman an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.
"He is a hero to this community," Henderson said.
(Editing by David Adams and Carol Bishopric)