As has become a late-year tradition, Historic Nashville Inc. announced its 2021 Nashville Nine list of threatened historic properties Wednesday.
The 2020 list was dominated by properties damaged in the March 2020 tornado and by locations critical to the civil rights movement and Black history in the city. Nearly half of the 2021 list, as might be expected, is made up of properties damaged by the Christmas 2020 bombing on Second Avenue.
Here's this year's nonet.
170, 172, 174 and 176 Second Ave. N.
These four buildings, all of which are under preservation easements held by Historic Nashville, were the most damaged in the Christmas bombing. The building at 172 Second Ave. was damaged beyond repair, and the nonprofit says the plans for the other "generally comply" with the historic zoning overlay, but it cautions "proposals and finished development are entirely different things." Restoration must be carefully executed to maintain the preservation status, particularly since this stretch of Second has remained "remarkably consistent" since its construction.
Elks Lodge, 2014 Jefferson St.
Damaged during the tornado, the building at 2014 Jefferson has been an Elks Lodge since 1968, but before that it was the home of Club Baron — one of the epicenters of the vibrant music scene on Jefferson Street in the 1950s and ’60s prior to the construction of Interstate 40, which essentially put paid to the bustling and culturally vital nightlife on the street. Among those who entertained patrons at Club Baron were B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Etta James, Ray Charles and Little Richard. In Nashville lore, it is known as the location of the famous guitar duel between local hero Johnny Jones and a youngster recently discharged from the Army named James Marshall Hendrix (history remembers him as Jimi, of course). Jones bested Hendrix that day, as detailed in February 2021's Walk a Mile, but he later honored his old rival with a roaring cover of "Purple Haze."
Patton Brothers Funeral Home, 1306 South St.
Historic Nashville says this Victorian building on South Street is one of the most significant Black funeral properties left standing in the city. In the 1920s, it was the Zema W. Hill Funeral Home, "run by a charismatic Primitive Baptist evangelist whose marketing efforts included the placement of two snowball-toting concrete polar bears in front of the parlor — and two others in front of his home on Edgehill Avenue." Those polar bears have become a symbol of Edgehill in the meantime. In 1952, the Pattons — who had operated a funeral home in Franklin since 1882 — bought out Hill when he decided to retire. Patton Brothers ran the funeral home there for 70 years. Historic Nashville says its recent purchase puts it in danger of demolition.
Southern Ground Studios, 114 17th Ave. S.
Zac Brown, leader of the eponymous band, purchased the recording studio at McGavock and 17th in 2012 and renovated it. He has now listed it for sale. Addison Avenue Cumberland Presbyterian (17th was then known as Addison) purchased the property in 1897 and worshipped there between 1901 and 1950. For the next 18 years, it served many purposes: the home of the Nashville School of Fine Art, Nashville Royal Order of Moose and the VFW. Monument Records impresario Fred Foster bought the building 1968, where Kris Kristofferson, Tom T. Hall, Sammi Smith and Larry Gatlin, among others, recorded. Over the past decade, in addition to Brown's band, Dwight Yoakam, Foo Fighters, Megadeth and Kacey Musgraves have cut tracks there.
Woolworth Building, 221 Fifth Ave. N.
Built in the 1890s, this building was the home of Woolworth from 1913 to 1993. It is best known, of course, as the focal point of the lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement. A restaurant, Woolworth on 5th, was a pandemic victim, and the building's future is now as Woolworth Theatre. Historic Nashville applauded the restaurant's efforts at preserving the history and emphasizing the historic importance of the building and urges the new owner to do the same. "We recommend that they bring in (an expert) 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," HNI writes. "Sometimes, historic preservation encompasses not only a building’s exterior but also respect for the interior where historic events took place."
Coca-Cola Bottling Plant, 1525 Church St.
Most longtime Nashvillians likely remember this 1920s brick warehouse as the Jim Reed showroom, which operated there from the 1970s, but it was built as part of Coca-Cola's bottling works. "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," HNI writes. The building appeared on the 2014 Nashville Nine, but the nonprofit said with high-rise development continuing apace in Midtown, its destruction seems ever more likely.