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Monday
May142018

Heritage site marker unveiled at childhood home of Ronnie, Johnny and Donnie Van Zant

Andrew Willis/First Coast NewsThe house in Jacksonville, Florida, where Lynyrd Skynrd singers Ronnie and Johnny Van Zant grew up along with their brother, Donnie -- co-founder of 38 Special -- has been declared a state heritage site.

According to FirstCoastNews.com, a commemorative marker celebrating the designation was unveiled Saturday during a public ceremony at the property at 5419 Woodcrest Road.

The marker reads, "Musicians Ronnie, Donnie and Johnny Van Zant spent their formative years growing up in this house with their sisters and parents between the 1950s and 1980s." The inscription also describes how Ronnie formed Lynyrd Skynyrd after a chance encounter with Bob Burns, mentions the tragic 1977 airplane crash that killed Ronnie and other Skynyrd members, notes that Johnny later took over as the band's lead singer, and cites Donnie's role as 38 Special's frontman.

The Florida Times-Union reports local businessman Todd Smith bought the house and worked with the state to have the property approved as a heritage site. He's currently restoring the home to look like it did during the 1970s, with plans to rent it out to Skynyrd fans as an AirBnB.

Addressing the crowd at the unveiling, Smith said, "One of the things a realized when I bought the place was how much these guys have contributed to rock 'n' roll music, to the city of Jacksonville, to our culture, to our heritage…and I wanted to figure out a way to recognize them. So I went to the state of Florida and they were kind enough to approve the historical marker. They even provided some grant funding."

Florida congressman Jay Fant also spoke at the unveiling, declaring, "This is where it happened. This is the cradle of Southern rock, right here."

Lynyrd Skynyrd recently launched their farewell tour. Check out the dates at LynyrdSkynyrd.com.

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