Outside the formerly defunct country club near Georgia Tech where the world's first all-news channel initially aired, a ceremony is planned this week to dedicate a significant piece of Midtown real estate to former media maverick, Atlanta sports team owner, environmental champion, and philanthropist Ted Turner.
Turner, 81, is expected to attend the Friday morning event, emceed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, on the lawn of the circa-1940 mansion once coined “Tara on Techwood.”
WarnerMedia officials will dedicate their Techwood campus to Turner, who founded Turner Broadcasting System and launched CNN in the plantation-style building’s basement four decades ago while he lived in a room upstairs.
“We will honor [Turner’s] legacy and pay tribute to what he began and built on the Techwood campus,” WarnerMedia reps wrote in a recent announcement.
A new campus mural is also slated to be unveiled Friday, while a “special partnership announcement” with the University of Georgia will be detailed, officials said.
The Techwood campus houses thousands of WarnerMedia employees across several buildings but lost its recognizable “Turner” signage in October, following the splintering of Atlanta’s Turner Broadcasting into different divisions, as the AJC reported.
As detailed in a 2018 feature story on these pages, the first on-air home of Cable News Network had been constructed as the third location of the Jewish Progressive Club, a refuge for Russian Jews who felt unwelcome at the Standard Club founded by German Jews in 1867.
The Tara-esque structure sold twice in the early ’70s to developers who once intended to build towers of condos, office space, and a 1,000-room hotel.
Those plans faltered, but Turner found the site—with its 90,000 square feet of interior rooms—to be ideal, despite a lofty $4 million price tag at the time.
In the very early days of CNN, employees were on high alert, “never knowing when we might encounter founder [Turner], for he kept a place on the top floor and was infamous for padding about in his bathrobe in the middle of the night,” wrote author Lisa Napoli, a Brooklyn expat at the time and early CNN hire. “What’s more, on weekends we grew accustomed to the thuds above us, as Georgia Championship Wrestling was taped in the WTBS studio.”
Elsewhere in Atlanta, a stretch of Spring Street downtown was renamed Ted Turner Drive in 2015 to honor the businessman of several colorful nicknames—“Mouth of the South” and “Captain Outrageous” among them—who helped put the city on the world’s radar.