History Gram - March 2020

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March 2020

45th Annual Preservation Awards: Upcoming Nomination Deadline

The Metropolitan Historical Commission is now accepting nominations for the 45th Annual Preservation Awards program. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, March 13th at 5:00 p.m. To learn more about the awards program and to download the nomination form, please visit our Preservation Awards page or contact Scarlett Miles. Awards will be presented at a ceremony in May, stay tuned for further details!



MHC News

The MHC dedicated two new historical markers in February for the Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church and Clark Memorial United Methodist Church. Thanks to all those who came out for these marker dedications!

Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church was formed in 1875 and its legacy continues today through Olive Branch Church, with locations in Nashville and Murfreesboro. This marker was funded by the Council district Marker Project and selected by District 33 CM Antoinette Lee. Thank you to CM Lee and the Cane Ridge Community Club, who opened their doors to guests for the ceremony!

The marker reads:

"In 1871, District 6 school commissioners John Briley, Benjiah Gray and Jason Austin bought one acre of land from James Thompson for an African American school. In 1873, African American members of the Benevolent Society of Olive Branch No. 38 established Olive Branch Cemetery. Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church (est. 1875) used the one-room school for services until the church was built. The church was re-built in 1971. Due to its condition, the school was demolished c. 1980."

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Officials and members of the Olive Branch Church at the marker dedication. Credit: Jeffrey Webster.

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(L to R) Pastor Windrow, Caroline Eller (MHC) and Council member Antoinette Lee with the marker. Credit: Jeffrey Webster.

Also in February, a new historical marker for Clark Memorial United Methodist Church was dedicated in celebration of their 155th anniversary. The ceremony was well attended by church members, civil rights activists and city officials among others. This marker, which focuses on the church's role in the Civil Rights movement, was privately funded by the church. Clark Memorial UMC is on the U.S. Civil Rights Trail. Thank you to Clark Memorial historian Marilyn Talbert and pastors Rev. Dr. Herbert Lester and Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Williams for helping this marker come to fruition!

The marker reads:

"Founded in South Nashville in 1865, Clark Memorial moved to North Nashville in 1936 and to this location in 1945. The church was central to the Civil Rights movement in Nashville, with activist James M. Lawson conducting classes here in 1959 on non-violent protests. Lawson was a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), whose Nashville members included students at American Baptist College, Fisk Univ., Tenn. A&I (now Tenn. State) and Vanderbilt Univ.



(L to R) Lynn Maddox, Clay Bailey, Dr. Phyllis Hildreth (American Baptist College), District 19 Council member Freddie O'Connell, Chakita Patterson, John Bridges, Jessica Reeves, Tim Walker, Menié Bell. Credit: MHC.

The 39th annual Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture was a huge success, with nearly 290 attendees! Thank you to the conference planning committee members, speakers, Tennessee State University and everyone who supported and helped make this conference happen. Special thanks to MHC commissioner Linda Wynn, TSU staff Kristie Green and MHC staff Jessica Reeves and Susie Pallas. In case you were unable to attend, you can now watch the full conference video online!


On February 18th, staff from the MHC and MHZC attended a laser cleaning demonstration at the National Register-listed Stahlman Building. This technology is being used to safely remove tar from the limestone exterior walls and causes no damage to the historic materials. Using these lasers, the façade has been completely cleaned and restored over the past two months. Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio, Inc. spearheaded the work and has done similar projects in the U.S. and abroad for many historical documents, artworks, and buildings including the Jefferson Memorial, U.S. Supreme Court and President Andrew Jackson's tomb in Hermitage.

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MHC and MHZC staff with members of the Tennessee Historical Commission, architects and others at the laser demonstration. Credit: MHC.


Detail of laser cleaning technique on the Stahlman Building. Credit: MHC.

MHZC news

 The MHZC’s March public hearing will be on Wednesday, March 18th at 2:00 p.m. at the Sonny West Conference Center at Howard Office Building.

View the MHZC meeting schedule and application deadlines here. Access archived videos of the MHZC meetings on the Metro YouTube channel anytime!

Tennessee's Plan for Historic Preservation 2019-2029

The Tennessee Historical Commission (THC or TN-SHPO) recently released the newly-updated statewide historic preservation plan effective for 2019-2029. A federal grant from the National Park Service funded the plan update and local cultural resources firm New South Associates was contracted for the project. Topics covered include information on historic preservation planning tools, economic incentives, programs, grants and funding sources, partnerships, goals, strategies, and objectives, as well as information on demographics, certified local governments, success stories, challenges, and distressed counties.

As Tennessee's largest and fastest growing city, Nashville is well represented throughout the plan. New South's Senior Historian Robbie Jones stated, "This was a year long project and a lot of hard but gratifying work. This is the first time the TN-SHPO has ever outsourced the creation of the Tennessee Preservation Plan, so were very grateful for the opportunity to create a preservation planning document to make Tennessee proud." Be sure to check out the Executive Summary and full 168-page plan on the THC website!


History of Bellevue Christian Church

One of the most prominent religious organizations in Bellevue, the Bellevue Christian Church was organized in 1832- though its roots trace even earlier back into history. In 1854, the church divided due to different beliefs about the use of music in the church, leading to a Pasquo branch and a building that was located where today's church stands. One of MHC's newest historical markers honors Dr. A.I. Myhr who was State Evangelist and pastor at the church. In "Restoring Bellevue Christian Church," MHC Commissioner "Bellevue Bob" Allen details the church's long and interesting history.

Nashville History Videos

If you aren't already familiar with Metro Nashville's YouTube channel, here is a great new reason to be! Over 80 videos are available on a playlist called "Nashville History" and include dozens of lectures and events covering all aspects of Metro government and area history. From Fort Negley to Jefferson Street to schools and the Civil War, these videos capture historians and Metro officials sharing tons of free, easily accessible historical content. The playlist is constantly updated so there is always something new to learn! Be sure to bookmark this playlist and watch these videos on your favorite devices.

Mid-Century Modern Gem: Ben West Library

Hastings Architecture, the new steward of the former Ben West Library, continues to gain national-level acclaim for their adaptive reuse of the iconic downtown Nashville Mid-Century Modern building. Located at 225 Polk Avenue, the Carnegie Main Library (later known as the Ben West Library) opened in 1965. Architect Bruce I. Crabtree, Jr. of Taylor and Crabtree designed it as a modernist take on the columnar style of the Athens of the South. The library was unique for its time because it not only served as storage for books but was very user-oriented with large windows and cozy reading spaces, all of which remain in place today. The MHZC designated the property as a local Historic Landmark in 2015. A recent article in Architectural Record provides in-depth details about the renovation and the building's new life.

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View of common area in renovated Ben West Library. Credit: MHC.

Paul Clements Collection--Nashville Heritage Oral History Project

Metro Archives has a fascinating oral history collection that has been digitized and is available online. The Paul Clements Collection-Nashville Oral History Heritage Project contains audio interviews of Nashvillians speaking about their everyday lives growing up in Nashville. Interviews took place in the mid 1980s and were conducted by students from Paul Clements' American History Class at The Ensworth School. Topics include life during the Great Depression and WWI, river flooding, South Nashville, Howard School, silent films and much more!


Upcoming Historical Marker Dedications

On Saturday, March 7th at 10:00 a.m., a new historical marker will be dedicated for Turner Grammar School, 2949 Nolensville Pike. Following the ceremony, the former school building will be open for tours. Historical photos and artifacts will also be on display. Come out to hear stories from the Turner School alumni and other community leaders!


Original Turner School, early 1900s. Source: Nashville Public Library.

A new historical marker for Betty Nixon will be dedicated on Monday, April 6th at 11:00 a.m. Please check back for more details!

Women's Suffrage Centennial Events 2020

In celebration of 100 years of women's suffrage, Nashville is hosting events all year long in honor of this historic event.

Ongoing events through August 2020 include the Historic Nook Women's Suffrage Takeover at Hermitage Hotel and the Oak Bar's Suffrage-Themed Craft Cocktail Menu. More about these ongoing events and the Hermitage Hotel's major role in the women suffrage movement is available on the hotel's website.

Check out these happenings in March:

March 1-31: Women's Suffrage Commemoration at the Parthenon

March 9: The Kickoff for Women's History Month at the Parthenon

March 17: The Road to Suffrage Seminar at MTSU

March 26: In Dialogue: Suffrage, Style and Social Movements at the Tennessee State Museum

March 27-28: Ratified! Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote Exhibit

March 30: Celebration for the Acquisition of a Large Collection of Feminist Works at the Main Library

To learn more about Tennessee's pivotal role in the ratification of women's suffrage, visit the Tennessee Library and Archives online collection with information on African American women's role in the movement, political cartoons, legislative documents and more.

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History Exhibits and Programs at the Nashville Public Library

March 4--Green Hills Library--Travel Chats: The Flint, Michigan Sit-Down Strike (1936-1937)--6:00 p.m.

March 6--First Friday with Metro Archives: "Voices of Camp Forrest in WWII" with Dr. Elizabeth Taylor--Bellevue YMCA

March 7--Main Library--Saints or Monsters: Political Cartoons of the 19th Amendment exhibit reception--2:00 p.m.

March 30--Main Library--An Evening with Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey: Votes for Women--5:30 p.m.

What's happening in Metro Parks? 

Centennial Park continues with Phase II work as directed by the Centennial Park Concept Plan (2015). This phase covers work across 19 acres of the park, including the Great Lawn, the West End entrance road, lighting and landscape improvements near the Parthenon and modifications to the landscape near the Bandshell. A new monument to Tennessee Women Suffragists will stand on the new promenade east of the Great Lawn. Under this phase, the Parthenon will be illuminated with a new LED lighting system, highlighting it's classical architectural features and sculptural details. Phase II is expected for completion in Summer 2020.


Artist rendering of new Parthenon lighting effect. Credit: Metro Parks.

Upcoming Events at Fort Negley

Volunteer Opportunity: Weed Wrangle at Fort Negley Park will be Saturday, March 7th from 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m. Help preserve Fort Negley Park by eliminating invasive plants from the stonework and open space. Clearing invasive plants will allow native plants to thrive and improve site mobility and aesthetics.

Fort Negley's popular Fossil Finders group will meet on Saturday, March 14th at 10:00 a.m. Join geologists and other experts in these hands-on activities and discussions.

Catch a Guided Tour of Fort Negley on Saturday, March 14th at 2:00 p.m. This one-mile walking tour with the staff historian will explore the 90-year story of Fort Negley Park and the 155-year-old historic Fort Negley.

The Nashville Civil War Roundtable will meet at Fort Negley on Tuesday, March 17th at 7:00 p.m. Historian and author James Knight will discuss "The Battle of Pea Ridge."

The Sons of Union Veterans will hold a bi-monthly meeting at Fort Negley on Tuesday, March 24th at 6:00 p.m.

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Keep up with all recurring and special events on Fort Negley's Facebook events page!


MTSU to host "Road to Suffrage" Symposium

On Tuesday, March 17th, the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) will host "Road to Suffrage," a day-long symposium in commemoration of the centennial of women's suffrage. A teacher workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Lectures begin at 2:30 p.m. Dr. Laura Free will present "Intersection: The Promise and Perils of the Early Woman Suffrage Movement"and will connect nineteenth-century partisan politics to the suffrage movement. Dr. Minoa Uffelman will present "Tennessee Women in the Progressive Era: Not Just Suffrage, but Different Concepts of Reform," looking at the historic role of Tennessee and its suffragists in the movement for ratification. After the presentations, MTSU public history alumna Dr. Tiffany Momon, a visiting professor of history at Sewanee: The University of the South, will moderate a 30-minute Q&A session.

In 2017, the CHP helped found the Tennessee Woman Suffrage Centennial Collaborative to promote the 2020 anniversary of the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment and emphasize Tennessee's nationally signifcant role in this historic achievement. This symposium is the third in a series of free "Road to Suffrage" events previously held in Knoxville (2019) and Memphis (2019). MTSU will host many other events celebrating women's suffrage during Women's History Month. Check here for details!

Circle Players presents "A Raisin in the Sun"

Circle Players is the oldest continuously-operating arts organization in Middle Tennessee, now in their 70th season. They began in 1949 and the first few years of production were spent in various locations in Nashville, including the Hermitage Hotel, the downtown YMCA and perhaps most interestingly, an old gambling den on Second Avenue. They became a state-chartered non-profit arts organization in the mid-1950s and in 1980, became the first resident company in the then-new Tennessee Performing Arts Center, presenting shows at Johnson Theatre through 2004.

This March, Circle Players will perform several shows of A Raisin in the Sun at Z. Alexander Looby Theater. Shows will run March 20-22 and 26-29 with both evening and matinee performances. Learn more about the Circle Players and purchase tickets here!


MTSU--National Women's Month Opening Ceremony and documentary screening--March 3

Green Hills Branch Library--Travel Chats: The Flint, Michigan Sit-Down Strike (1936-1937)--March 4

Bellevue History and Genealogy Group--"Voices of Camp Forrest in WWII" with author and historian Dr. Elizabeth Taylor--March 6

Tennessee State Museum--Women's Suffrage Tour--March 6

Historic Mansker's Station Tours--March 7

Fort Negley--Using Military Records for African American Research--March 7

The DISTRICT Nashville--First Saturday Art Crawl--March 7

Log Builder's Association--Heritage Cabin Preservation an Assembly--March 9-11

The Buchanan Log House--Preservation Workshop: Analysis and Interpretation of an Historic House Museum--March 12

Bellevue History and Genealogy--"History Serving under Six Mayors of Nashville" with Charlie Tygard--March 13

Jefferson Street Sound Museum--Sounds & Tones of Jefferson Street: A History Desk Debut--March 14

Two Rivers Mansion--Phil the House with Art and Friends--March 15

The Hermitage--President Jackson's 253rd Birthday Celebration--March 15

MTSU Center for Historic Preservation--(free) Road to Suffrage Symposium--March 17

Tennessee State Museum--Ratified: Tennessee Women and the Right to Vote exhibit opening--March 27

Neighbor 2 Neighbor--2020 C4N Nashville--March 28


The Hermitage--Vintage Baseball--April 4

Historic Nashville Inc.--Preserving Nashville One Song at a Time Benefit--April 9

Cheekwood Estate and Gardens--Dogs and Dogwoods--April 18-19

Bellevue History and Genealogy--"Presidential Campaigning in the Age of Jackson" with Dr. Mark Cheathem--April 24

The Parthenon--Art Deco Night--April 24


You can now support the Metro Historical Commission Foundation through your everyday purchases on Amazon! Shop using AmazonSmile and a portion of each purchase will go towards preservation projects in Nashville and Davidson County.

Check out our online newsletter archives!

Have a preservation-related event that you want us to include? 

Send a message to Caroline.Eller@Nashville.gov.