South Lamar honky-tonk the Broken Spoke has long been considered an iconic bar and concert venue in Austin by its residents. Now, the state and local governments officially recognize it as such with official historic landmark status this month.
On Wednesday, April 12, a Texas Historical Marker was installed on the building. Originally opened by James and Annetta White in November 1964, the space has hosted countless country music legends of the past and present including Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, the Chicks, George Strait, Garth Brooks, Midland, Sturgill Simpson, and Charley Crockett. In order to become a Texas landmark, the Broken Spoke had to meet certain requirements, including being around for at least 50 years, having associations with important historical events, and the building has architectural integrity. There are currently 16,000 markers in the state of Texas.
At a ceremony for the occasion, Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott said that the Broken Spoke is a “crucial touchpoint with our Texas culture, connecting us with our heritage and with each other. We must remember the importance of our legendary Texas dancehalls and the culture, history, and traditions they keep alive.”
James White passed away in 2021 at 81, but Broken Spoke has stayed in the family. It is currently owned and operated by Annetta and their daughters Terri White and Ginny White-Peacock, along with Ginny’s husband Michael Peacock.
The resolution proposing Broken Spoke’s historical status started last year. The year before, the venue and Terri White were featured on Austin season of the Netflix show Queer Eye. Shortly after the release of the episodes, the now-defunct Gawker 2.0 collected a large number of online reviews alleging racist, sexist, and homophobic treatment by Terri and others at the Broken Spoke. In an interview with Chronicle, White denies the allegations stating that she doesn’t “even know where this is coming from.” However, in the same piece, an unnamed longtime Austin-based country act shared that she stopped visiting the venue because she did not approve of the late owner James White’s comments about George Floyd and the protests about police brutality in the summer of 2020. “As the years went on, it just became more of an openly misogynist, racist, sexist bar to me,” she told the publication.