Historic Nashville, Inc. (HNI) announced its 2018 Nashville Nine, a list of the city’s most endangered historic places, at a press event held today at Bobby’s Idle Hour on Nashville’s historic Music Row. Emmy Award-winning songwriter, publisher, and producer and Historic Nashville Vice President Trey Bruce joined members of HNI to reveal this year’s Nashville Nine properties that heavily focus on the threat new development has on maintaining Nashville’s unique character.
Mr. Bruce, whose family owned 1022 16th Ave. S. on Music Row, was instrumental in saving the iconic RCA Studio A in 2014. With HNI, he has focused on preserving both the physical character of the Music Row neighborhood as well as the music industry that still lives on the row. He has helped establish a Music Row Preservation Fund with HNI and seeks to see the neighborhood designated the Music Row Cultural Industry District.
“The properties placed on the Nashville Nine list are buildings and places that appear vulnerable in Nashville’s climate of development. This is a way for us to make city officials and citizens aware that these places exist and that we’re watching out for them. Finding people that care about historic places is easy but making them aware is the hard part. We think the Nashville Nine is the way to do that,” says Mr. Bruce.
The 2018 Nashville Nine was nominated by members of the community and will be the focus of Historic Nashville’s advocacy and outreach throughout the coming year. The non-profit accepts nominations for historic properties threatened by demolition, neglect or development and the Nashville Nine is their strongest advocacy tool for historic preservation, bringing public awareness to the historic places that matter most to Nashville.
Last year, HNI chose to break from their traditional nine properties and listed only one, Fort Negley Park, in an effort to bring attention to how the city’s growth is impacting the character and story of the city. As the Nashville One, the former site of Greer stadium represented the greater trend seen across the city that encourages new development over preserving the historic places that make Nashville unique. As a result of the listing and outcry from the community, plans were abandoned, and the site will be developed as a park and historic site.
This year’s Nashville Nine follows the same theme, with the majority of listed properties threatened by new development. Historic Nashville has worked with developers in the past to find a common ground between growth and preservation and hopes that the attention to these properties will encourage more cooperation between the communities that are defined by these historic places and the desire for development.
Historic Nashville works to preserve, promote and advocate for the recognition of the city’s historic places and the impact they have on the culture, commerce and creativity of the city. Over the years, Historic Nashville has successfully assisted in preserving numerous landmarks including the Ryman Auditorium, Union Station, and the Hermitage Hotel.
HNI accepts nominations for the Nashville Nine year-round at www.historicnashvilleinc.org.
The Historic Nashville 2018 Nashville Nine
1022-1030 16th Avenue South – Music Row
These five buildings reflect the unique character of Music Row and encompass its history and present-day role as the center of Nashville’s music industry.
1022 16th Avenue South is the current home of So Nashville. The locally-owned clothing company opened a retail store in June 2018 and sells Nashville-themed merchandise and regularly hosts performances by up-and-coming songwriters and artists. The building was originally a home, constructed around 1927. In 1978, hit songwriter, singer and actor William “Ed” Bruce (“Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” “You’re the Biggest Break this Old Heart Ever Had,” purchased the building. In the late 1970s through the 1980s, Ed and Patsy Bruce operated the Ed Bruce Talent Agency and leased space to music businesses including Sugar Plum Music, Gingham Music, Calico-Magnolia Music, Fernvale Music, Drum Drop Music, and Events Unlimited Entertainment. The building is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
1024 16th Avenue South is currently occupied by The Classic Ax, a guitar and instrument repair shop, Wolf Mastering, Big Spark Music Group, Krazy Pop Studio, and the Rhinestone Wedding Chapel. Constructed around 1927, the building served as a home until 1973 when it was purchased and renovated for use as Bob Schanz Photography Studio and Publicity Photo Service, specializing in country music celebrity photos. Through the 1970s and 80s, music businesses located here included Roger Talent Enterprises, Ed Penny Productions, Kansa Records Corporation, Common Ground Music, Great Leawood Music Enterprises, Inc., Fishswing Music Enterprises, Inc., E.J.R. Advertising, Holly Fish Music, Light Switch Music, Group Three, Player International Records, Tuna Dick Productions and Blue Ridge Publishers. The building is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.
1026 16th Avenue South housed the Creative Soul Music Academy until recently. Constructed around 1927, the building was a home until 1974. In 1970s and 80s, the building became offices for accountants. In 1990, Bug Music purchased the building and converted it into a music publishing office.
1028 16th Avenue South has been the home of Bobby’s Idle Hour Tavern since 2005. It is the last tavern on Music Row (Bobby’s was relocated from another building on 16th Avenue South that was demolished to make way for an apartment building. The interior of Bobby’s was relocated to the current site and recreated.) Constructed around 1908, this building was a home until the 1960s, when it was converted to become a neighborhood market.
1030 16th Avenue South is the current home of Warner/Chappell Production Music, part of Warner Music Group, one of the world’s leading publishers with a catalog of more than one million copyrights. Constructed as a home around 1910, in 1969, it was converted for use as Countrypolitan Music. In 1976, the building housed M.C.S. Corporation, a recording and publishing business. The building has been rehabbed several times for music industry businesses including Lobo Music publishing company, Mike Robertson Management and Ten Thirty Music.
Historic Working-Class Neighborhoods
Chestnut Hill, Buena Vista, the Nations, and Cleveland Park are just a few of Nashville’s historic working-class neighborhoods threatened by rapid redevelopment. Nashville has seen a major trend in development pressures for these particular types of neighborhoods, some of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, due to their proximity to downtown and their modest architecture. However, these neighborhoods define Nashville’s late 19th - early 20th century working class and are home to iconic landmarks such as the Roxy Theater in Cleveland Park and the Carnegie library in Buena Vista.
Not as ornate as some of Nashville’s other historic districts, developers have targeted these neighborhoods with little concern for the historic resources or maintaining the historic neighborhood character. The increase in demolition of these historic homes also indicates the lack of concern these new developments have for affordable housing issues across the city.
Chestnut Hill was listed on HNI’s Nashville Nine in 2015 for the threat of tear-downs to make way for new luxury homes. The Roxy Theater in Cleveland Park was listed on HNI’s Nashville Nine in 2013.
Pasquo School, 8534 Lewis Road – Pasquo
Pasquo School, located at 8534 Lewis Road, is one of the last remaining Rosenwald Schools for African-American students left in Davidson County. A Rosenwald School is any of the over five thousand schools, shops, and teachers' homes in the United States which were built primarily for the education of African-American children in the South in the early 20th century. Schools were funded through the Rosenwald Fund, founded by businessman Julius Rosenwald who operated his fund in partnership with Booker T. Washington, president of Tuskegee Institute. At a time when many African-Americans didn't have the benefit of the so-called "separate but equal" educations they were promised, the local community organized itself to raise money and qualify for funding to build a schoolhouse. It is a private residence but is in significant disrepair.
Monroe Harding, Inc., 1120 Glendale Lane – Green Hills
In the early 1930s, the Presbyterian Synod for Nashville and Middle Tennessee acquired a 35-acre bequest of land near the Lipscomb Bible College to build a larger facility for its Monroe Harding Children’s Home as the need for expanded facilities for children increased with the onset of the Great Depression. The synod began a building campaign and Nashville architect Henry C. Hibbs designed the main Colonial Revival-style building and other structures on the site to provide a pastoral campus for the institution and the children who lived there. It opened in 1935. (The home's original benefactor, Fannie E. Harding had given her North Nashville home and its surrounding five acres to be used as an orphanage to the synod in 1893 as a memorial to her husband, Dr. James Monroe Harding.)
This property was on the Nashville Nine list in 2012, when concerned neighbors began to fear that the property might be redeveloped. Recent developments have brought about its inclusion on the 2018 list due to an added a sense of urgency to prevent the loss of this important property. In 2017, the Monroe Harding board decided to sell the valuable property in the heart of Green Hills to provide funds to sustain its mission of providing foster homes for older youth in Middle Tennessee. Neighbors quickly expressed concern for what they saw as “that one last green track in the Green Hills area.” The current proposal calls for the demolition of the Hibbs building, the removal of 200 trees of the urban canopy, and construction of 31 homes atop a steep slope leading to the Brown’s Creek flood plain. Although the Metro Planning Commission voted unanimously to deny the zoning change, it will still be brought before the Metro Council for a vote on November 6.
Tennessee School for the Blind, 88 Hermitage Avenue – Rolling Mill Hill
The building was designed in the 1940s by architect Donald Southgate as the "Colored Department" of Tennessee School for the Blind. The facility for white students was located in a Victorian mansion on Hermitage Avenue from the 1870s until the 1950s, when the school relocated to the Clover Bottom campus in Donelson. Visually impaired African-American children were educated separately at the 88 Hermitage Avenue facility from 1944 until the integration of the two schools in 1965. The African-American school is the only remaining building from the original Tennessee School for the Blind campus on Rolling Mill Hill.
In 2017, the Tennessee Historical Commission deemed the property to be eligible for inclusion in the National Register of Historic places due to its significant Colonial Revival architecture. It also has statewide significance for its history as a segregated educational institution and cultural significance related to Tennessee's African-American heritage. While there are other examples of historic segregated schools across the state, there are few surviving examples of buildings related to the education of persons with disabilities. 88 Hermitage Avenue is undoubtedly the only remaining facility of its kind in Tennessee.
Because it is currently state-owned and is eligible for inclusion in the National Register, Public Law 699 requires the state to consult with the Tennessee State Historic Preservation Office prior to transferring ownership. The Metro Government of Nashville and Davidson County has proposed purchasing the property to make way for a new Nashville School for the Arts. The original bill included language describing intent to demolish the building. Historic Nashville has reached out to Council members in an attempt to remove this language and encourage the reuse of the building into the new school if the sale were to be approved.