The City of Austin passed a resolution to potentially designate honky-tonk bar the Broken Spoke as a historical landmark. The resolution passed on November 3 and now moves to the Historic Landmark Commission and the Planning Commission before returning to the City Council.
The resolution acknowledges that Austin’s creative spaces are lost to the continuing real estate boom, and will use the city’s Iconic Venue Fund and other methods to protect and preserve the South Lamar bar. The Broken Spoke specifically met the criteria by being over 50 years old, having associations with important historical events, and having significant associations with people that contributed to the city’s history.
James and Annetta White opened the Broken Spoke in November 1964 as a bar, dance hall, and restaurant. Its storied history includes concerts by the Chicks, Garth Brooks, and Dolly Parton. It was featured on the cover of George Strait’s 2019 album Honky Tonk Machine. James White died in 2021 at 81, but Broken Spoke has continued to operate under Annetta and their daughters Terry White and Ginny White-Peacock, along with Ginny’s husband Michael Peacock.
Terry White and the Broken Spoke was featured on the Austin season of the Netflix show Queer Eye. However, shortly after the season’s release, Gawker assembled a plethora of online reviews alleging racist and homophobic treatment by Terry. The Broken Spoke responded by saying Terry was not an owner but was a contractor hired for her dance lessons, which are still advertised on the Broken Spoke’s site.
If the city council’s resolution is approved, the Broken Spoke could receive landmark status by April. It received a Texas Historical Marker in 2021.