Who was on the Nashville Nine last year? Take a look at the historic properties at risk of demolition
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Historic Nashville, Inc. will soon release the 2022 edition of the Nashville Nine, a round-up of nine historical places around Nashville that are endangered by demolition, neglect or development. Each year, a public vote solicits nominations for consideration on the list, revealing historic buildings and places that matter to the people of Nashville.
Before the new list comes out, here is a refresher of the 2021 list and why those properties made the list:
170, 172, 174, 176 Second Avenue North
Still demolished by the Christmas Day bombing of 2020, four properties along one of the most historic areas of downtown Nashville, 2nd Avenue North, were at risk of redevelopment.
The stretch of roadway virtually obliterated by the bombing saw 170-176 2nd Ave. N the most damaged. 172 2nd Ave. N was damaged beyond repair. Historic Nashville was able to obtain preservation easements for the other three properties to ensure any proposed development complies with the Metro Historic zoning overlay, according to the group.
“Proposed plans for the other three buildings [170, 174 and 176 2nd Ave. N] appear to generally comply with the Metro Historic zoning overlay, but proposals and finished development are entirely different things,” said Historic Nashville last year.
With the preservation easements, however, Historic Nashville said it made a “commitment that these precious pieces of our history are protected in perpetuity.”
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“We urge those implementing the rebuilding to make sure the buildings retain as much of their historic and architectural integrity as possible.”
Elks Lodge #1102, 2614 Jefferson Street
This iconic structure near Fisk University and Hadley Park has housed Elks Lodge #1102 since 1968. Before that, it was an integral part of the Jefferson Street live music scene as Club Baron, according to Historic Nashville.
“From the mid-1950s through the mid-1960s, Club Baron booked the likes of B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Ray Charles, Little Richard, Fats Domino and Etta James,” the group said of the building in 2021.
The side of the building is covered with a mural commemorating the legendary guitar duel between Jimi Hendrix and local blues guitarist Johnny Jones.
“Jones is said to have won that showdown, partly because Hendrix was still developing his genre-shaking sound and partly because Jones had the more powerful amplifier,” the group said.
The structure was one of many to suffer tornado damage in 2020 and has “other issues that need addressing,” according to Historic Nashville.
Patton Brothers Funeral Home, 1306 South Street
One of the most historically significant Black funeral buildings, a stark reminder of the city’s segregated past, is the third building on the Nashville Nine list from 2021.
The Victorian-style home-turned-mortuary saw Patton Brothers Funeral Home operate out of it for nearly 70 years after Franklin-based Patton Brothers bought out the Zema W. Hill Funeral Home. From the 1920s to 1952, the Primitive Baptist evangelist ran his funeral home until his retirement, according to Historic Nashville.
The building was known by the snowball-toting concrete polar bears that were placed outside it by Hill as a marketing gimmick, the group said.
A new owner reportedly purchased the building in early 2021, putting it in danger of demolition, according to Historic Nashville.
Southern Ground, 114 17th Avenue South
The Sunday school-turned-recording studio owned by the Zac Brown Band front man went on the market, putting both the recording spot and the structure in question last year.
Brown has owned the studio for a decade, and musical icons including Dwight Yoakam, Foo Fighters and Kacey Musgraves have recorded songs there, Historic Nashville said.
But before it was a recording studio, the location was the home to the Addison Avenue Cumberland Presbyterian Church Sunday school more than a century ago.
The church congregation purchased the property, located at the corner of Addison Avenue and MacGavok Street in 1897 and worshipped there from 1901 to 1950. The building subsequently housed the Nashville School of Fine Art, the Nashville Royal Order of Moose lodge and a Veterans of Foreign Wars clubhouse before Monument Records head Fred Foster purchased it in 1968 and turned it into a recording studio.
Monument artists including Kris Kirstofferson and Larry Gatlin recorded their early albums there, while Sammi Smith cut her hit version of Kristofferson’s “Help Me Make It Through the Night” there.
The studio operated as Young ‘Un Studios throughout the 1970s and ‘80s.
Brown bought it in 2012 and renovated it.
Woolworth Building, 221 Fifth Avenue North (221 Rep. John Lewis Way North)
An iconic symbol of the Civil Rights movement in Nashville, the home of lunch counter sit-ins and a federally-recognized historic site, made the Nashville Nine in 2021.
As of last year, Historic Nashville said the interior of the building was undergoing “extensive renovations” as it prepared to return as the Woolworth Theatre, prompting preservationists to remind the owners “they are stewards of one of the most important spaces in this city’s history.”
The Woolworth on 5th building was constructed in the 1890s and occupied for 80 years, from 1913-1993, by retailer F.W. Woolworth Co.
In 1960, the retailer’s lunch counter became “a focal point of efforts desegregate the city’s lunch counters.”
“Because of those events, the Woolworth Building is now a national historic site,” Historic Nashville said.
Efforts were made by the Woolworth on 5th restaurant to preserve as much of the original interior architecture as possible prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the virus forced the restaurant to close in 2020.
Historic Nashville recommended the current owners bring in a team “with a specialization in the Civil Rights Movement or Black Freedom Struggle, a trained historic preservationist and a conservator who can assist with the identification and care of the building’s remaining historic elements.”
Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, 1525 Church Street
The final member of the 2021 Nashville Nine is the old Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, also known as the Old Jim Reed showroom at the corner of Church Street and 16th Avenue North.
The 1920s brick warehouse building in Midtown was originally part of the Coca Cola Bottling Works before it was turned into an auto dealership owned by Jim Reed.
The building is “an excellent example of ornate industrial architecture from the early twentieth century and perhaps Nashville’s last remaining historic soft drink bottling plant,” per Historic Nashville.
“Members of the community are worried that this unique historic landmark could be demolished for new development,” the group said last year.
The building was previously listed on the Nashville Nine in 2014, but with downtown high-rise development “now extending along the West End-Church Street corridor, the likelihood the building will be demolished is increasing.”