A guitar-shaped swimming pool. Civil War hospital barracks. A cemetery with unmarked graves. What do these Nashville landmarks have in common?
They’re in danger.
Historic Nashville Inc. released its annual Nashville Nine, a list of historically-significant buildings and landmarks at risk of decay, demolition and development. Several landmarks significant to local African-American history were included in the 2022 list. Country music hotspots like Music Row’s Spence Manor were also named.
“We really tried to cover the entire city this year,” Historic Nashville president Brian Mansfield said. “They aren’t spots that you would pass by every day unless you live in those neighborhoods.”
Mansfield said the annual list, which began in 2009, serves as an awareness tool for the city. The list is compiled through a public nomination process and uncovers rich histories across the city. He said a strong theme of the 2022 list is buildings relevant to both Civil War and Civil Rights history.
“The Civil Rights story in Nashville is a very strong one,” Mansfield said. “It has a few locations that everybody tends to know, but it’s important for us to point out places to people that aren’t as well known. We find that there are stories that are richer and deeper than maybe we imagined.”
While the Nashville Nine works to increase the public’s awareness of historic buildings, Historic Nashville also uses legally-binding easement agreements to incentivize historic preservation. Mansfield said he wants to encourage Nashvillians to get involved in promoting historic preservation in their own way.
“If you want to do things to preserve the history in Nashville neighborhoods, the real way to do that is to start showing up at zoning appeal board meetings and historic commission meetings,” Mansfield said. “The people that show up get paid attention to, and you know the developers will always show up.”
Here is the 2022 Nashville Nine.
Fisk Little Theater
Located at 998 Dr. D.B. Todd Blvd. on Fisk University’s campus, the small wood-frame building was originally built as hospital barracks during the Civil War. According to Historic Nashville, major repairs to the windows and gutters are needed to preserve the building.
Renraw/The Warner House
This 19th-century home can be found at 1016 McClurkan Ave., at the center of Lincoln College of Technology. It was the former home of Nashville businessmen Edwin and Percy Warner, known for the parks named in their honor.
Most recently, the land was sold to Southern Land Co., a real estate developer with plans to use the land for a mixed-use residential and commercial space. The house will be moved to the corner of Trevecca Avenue and McClurkan Avenue. Historic Nashville urges developers to work with preservationists to make sure the house is preserved and highlighted in the new project.
The informal cemetery on Hobson Road contains burials dating to roughly the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century. According to Historic Nashville, there are several unmarked graves, many of which are believed to contain the remains of enslaved people. A large, mixed-use development threatens the site, with plans to fence it in and alter the historic setting.
Robert Lillard House
The 1940 Queen Anne cottage, at 1026 2nd Ave. South, was the home and office of African American attorney and Civil Rights leader Robert Emmitt Lillard.
“Though some of the churches and most of the university buildings where Nashville’s Civil Rights Movement was incubated are still around, many of the office buildings and residences associated with the people and events of the movement are long-since destroyed,” according to the Nashville Nine list. “This is one of the last of those important spaces, and it should be preserved.”
The Spence Manor Motor Hotel, at 11 Music Square East, was frequented by stars who visited Nashville to record music. The guitar-shaped pool on the property was built by Webb Pierce. The building is now a residential property.
Nashville Christian Institute Gymnasium
The Nashville Christian Institute was a Church of Christ-run K-12 school, opened in 1940. It is located at 2420 Batavia St. The gymnasium is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the last remaining vestige of the former institute campus. The gym is currently up for sale and in danger of being torn down.
Scott’s Chapel AME Church and Fellowship Hall
As the longtime center of the Scott’s Hollow community in Hermitage, the Scott’s Chapel AME Church property historically served many purposes. After integration, the one-room schoolhouse was moved and attached to the church as its fellowship hall. The building, at 511 Tulip Grove Rd, is in need of major repairs.
Country star Barbara Mandrell’s former home and the surrounding 221 acres are for sale, including the inn, houses, distillery and amphitheater space. The complex is located at 4225 Whites Creek Pike. Multiple plans were in place to add to the property, first in 2016 and again in 2019, but the land is now being divided up and auctioned off.
4900 block of Charlotte Avenue
This area of West Nashville, once known as “New Town,” was designed to be an industrial hub close to the river, railways and urban core. Though the area is booming with new buildings and creative reuse of historic structures, the 4900 block is underutilized and neglected.