History Gram - May 2020

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May 2020


MHC News

The next Metro Historical Commission meeting will be held virtually on May 18th at 12:00 p.m. Please contact staff, check our website or check our Facebook page for updates on how you can access the meeting.

The MHC is working closely with Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) staff and a project-specific committee on two new historical markers for Jones and Glenn schools. These markers will be presented for a vote at the MHC's regular meeting in May and are part of a group of six new historical markers that recognize the "Nashville Plan Schools," those that were desegregated in September 1957. Several of the former students who participated in these school desegregation activities have been in the project, and we are grateful to have them working with us to develop these texts. MHC and MNPS will combine efforts to rollout and dedicate this batch of new historical markers in late 2020.


View of Exit/In along Elliston Place. Credit: MHC.

In late April, MHC staff submitted an Initial Information Packet for Exit/In for review by National Register staff of the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC). THC staff will review this information and determine if the beloved Elliston Place music venue is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Keep a look out on updates about this exciting potential designation!

 Two Nashville churches listed in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) were critically damaged by the March 3rd tornado. Hopewell Baptist (908 Monroe Street) is an individually-listed c. 1904 eclectic-style, Akron plan church in North Nashville. East End United Methodist Church (1212 Holly St.) is a 1903 Romanesque Revival example located in the East Nashville Historic District. Both churches sustained destruction to their facade (including the steeple at Hopewell and the bell tower at East End UMC), along with significant structural damage to walls, floors, windows and more.


Hopewell Baptist Church, post-tornado damage. Credit: MHC.


East End UMC, post-tornado damage. Credit: MHC.

To assist both churches in their recovery, MHC staff identified potential funding sources offered through Partners for Sacred Places (PSP), a national non-profit that helps to protect and encourage good stewardship of churches across America. In collaboration with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, their National Fund program awards yearly grants to houses of worship. East End UMC has applied for the National Fund, while MHC staff are assisting Hopewell Baptist in their application for PSP's emergency intervention funds. The MHC would like to thank Allard-Ward Architects, who have graciously donated their time and expertise to create drawings of Hopewell that will be used for an accurate reconstruction of the damaged historic features.

MHZC news

 The MHZC’s May public hearing will be on Wednesday, May 20th at 2:00 p.m. Please contact MHZC staff, check our website or check our Facebook page for meeting updates, as access may change based on COVID-19 response measures.

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

MHZC Zoning Administrator Robin Zeigler represented our office during a recent Town Hall Meeting on Tornado Recovery. Neighbor2Neighbor organized the event, which included Council Member Brett Withers (District 6), and reps from The Equity Alliance, HUD, FEMA and more. The meeting covered a wide range of topics from permit reviews to volunteer engagement and equitable redevelopment, and provided a plethora of recovery-oriented financial assistance from a variety of local and federal resources.

At their April regular meeting, the Metro Historic Zoning Commission approved a local landmark overlay for the Cohen Building (421 Church St.). The designation was approved at the 4/23 Planning Commission meeting, and will proceed to Council for the first of three readings on July 7th. Read more about the history of the Cohen Building here.


The Cohen Building, 421 Church St. Credit: MHC.


Preservation Month is an ideal time to showcase the MHC and MHZC's many duties and services that can assist in the preservation of Nashville's history. Most of these are probably well-known offerings, but some may be less so.

Education is one of the primary functions of the MHC. Our office maintains a collection of primary images, drawings and maps of Davidson County's historic resources. We also promote Nashville's history through a variety of events and outreach, including history lectures and educational forums in collaboration with the County Historian, our annual Preservation Awards program (since 1976), and the annual Nashville Conference on African American History and Culture (since 1981), co-hosted with TSU. Our popular historical marker program, new Nashville Sites platform, publications and social media are other ways we engage with the community.

Our office provides a wide range of technical assistance, including applicant consultation for the 20% Federal Historic Tax Credit program, advising on Metro Building Code and ADA requirement issues that may adversely affect historic properties, and facilitation of required biennial reports to the National Park Service for the Customs House and Union Station. For all city-owned properties, we also assess and protect archaeological resources.

Staff of the MHC and MHZC also review and provide recommendations on many types of proposed projects and initiatives that may impact historic properties. This includes review of Planning Commission applications, federal Section 106 projects in cooperation with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and MDHA Redevelopment District improvements to historic resources.

It should come as no surprise that an important part of the work we do involves historical research and documentation, something we love to do! Much of this work is crucial to fulfilling our duties as a Certified Local Government (CLG). We do this by surveying and maintaining a publicly-accessible list of the county's historic resources, writing and reviewing National Register nominations in cooperation with the SHPO, and researching and writing street name change reports for Council.

Management and advocacy for historic properties may not be one of the first things associated with the MHC or MHZC, but it covers an enormous part of our services. We advocate through our partnerships with friends groups, including Friends of Warner Parks, The District, Nashville City Cemetery Association, Friends of Two Rivers Mansion, Friends of Fort Negley, Friends of Aaittafama, and the MHC Foundation. We manage and protect the Nashville City Cemetery, along with the county's 500+ early, largely-rural cemeteries. Finally, the MHZC spearheads management and protection of Nashville's local historic districts through a robust public process, survey, design review, permit issuance, inspections and enforcement.

Please visit our website or contact staff with any questions or for requests about any of these programs!

State Historian Appointed to National Committee


Congratulations are in order to State Historian Dr. Carroll Van West, who was appointed to the National Historic Landmarks Committee on March 30th! Dr. West joins a group of 14 members who meet twice a year to review and recommend nominations for the National Historic Landmark program, the highest designation within the National Register of Historic Places. Dr. West has been a professor of history at Middle Tennessee State University since 1985 and was appointed State Historian in 2013.


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History Exhibits and Programs at the Nashville Public Library

While all Nashville Public Library branches remain closed, there are still plenty of great history resources available! Metro Archives recently posted a fantastic article about some of the historic epidemics or pandemics that have affected Nashville. The twist--instead of focusing on the devastation of such diseases, "Some Good News" shares positive stories from these times. Check out many more fascinating Metro Archives blog entries here.

This is also a great time to catch up on most recent episodes of the Metro Archives "Back In the Day" podcast! Hear from archivists and other history professionals about  a variety of Nashville and Tennessee history subjects.

What's happening in Metro Parks? 

While Metro parks and greenways remain open (thankfully!), all community centers, playgrounds and dog parks are still closed to the public. See here for all parks facilities affected by the closures. However, we would be remiss if we didn't share a fun new online game through Sunnyside's neighbor, the Sevier Park Community Center. The center's apparent mascot, Mr. Ted E. Sevier, can be found hiding throughout the building in a series of posts. This is a great distraction for kids and adults alike, so enjoy!

Ravenwood Park and the Stones River Greenway in Hermitage suffered quite a bit of damage from the March 3rd tornado. Portions of the former Ravenwood Golf Course stone entrance gate sustained significant damage, as did the year-old Ravenwood historical marker. MHC will replace the marker as soon as possible using allocated funds. Some of the Ravenwood Park damage and work being done by Metro Parks can be seen in this video.


Damaged stone wall at Ravenwood Park. Credit: MHC.

Upcoming Events at Fort Negley

Fort Negley Visitors Center remains closed and all scheduled events have been canceled. However, it's clear that people still very much love and appreciate Fort Negley Park, as they have been doing everything from pulling weeds to sunbathing there over the last few weeks. One couple was actually married at the fort in late April! During this pandemic, it is especially important to recognize the uplifting role played by physical spaces, including parks and historic sites like Fort Negley. For a special musical treat, enjoy this video of jazz saxaphonist JayVe Montgomery playing at Fort Negley.

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


UNESCO traveler Elvis Mwenda Kibiti at the entrance to Fort Negley. Credit: Fort Negley Facebook.

Virtual Preservation Month

May is National Preservation Month! In light of the restrictions placed by social distancing and Safer At Home orders, the MHC has planned a robust social media campaign of daily posts to keep everyone engaged and excited by Nashville's history and the work of the MHC.

Every weekday this May, we will showcase one Nashville Sites tour on Facebook and one local landmark on our brand new Instagram page (@MetroHistoricalNashville). Our Instagram posts will also feature the hashtag #ThisPlaceMatters, a preservation awareness campaign started by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This May especially, we encourage you to post about your favorite Nashville historical places and memories, or even questions about our city's rich past. Share those with us and be sure to follow our social media for the latest content. Here's where you can find us on Facebook and Instagram!

Nashville Sites Offers New Virtual Tours Option

As Nashville continues with social distancing measures, you can now easily explore all Nashville Sites tours from the comfort of your home! Originally launched only as a walking tour option, the tours are now available virtually so do not trigger location requests. Simply go to the Nashville Sites website, click on "Tours" in the menu and select "Virtual Tour" on the main page for any tour.


With the help of summer interns, the Nashville Sites team is hard at work creating new tours, including one for "Historic Music Row" in partnership with Don Cusic, MHC Commissioner and Curb Professor of Music Industry History at Belmont University. The new 1-mile-long tour will start at Owen Bradley Park, a small public park at the northern end of Music Row.

There is also a new donation button at the top of the Nashville Sites website! This exciting addition allows anyone to quickly and easily support Nashville Sites. While all tours are provided free of charge, donations will help to further develop this wonderful educational platform. All donations are tax deductible and any amount of support is appreciated.


Nashville Civic Design Center--Jane's Walk Nashville 2020 (Online)--May 1

Ryman Auditorium--Opry Livestream Circle Sessions--May 2

Digital Workshop: Creating a Preservation Story through Zines (hosted by Indow Window)--May 5

American Association for State and Local History--Webinar: Planning for Reopening--May 5; Webinar: Local Advocacy Matters--May 7

Nashville Civic Design Center--Collaborative Conversations #MyCityMap--May 7

Vernacular Architecture Forum--2020 VAF Virtual Conference--May 9

Tennessee State Museum--Tennessee Online Book Club: Whistling Past the Graveyard--May 14

Historic Travellers Rest--History At Home

Trinity Dublin College--(Free E-Learning Course) The History of the Book in the Early Modern Period: 1450 to 1800

National Trust for Historic Preservation--(Free Webinar) Coronavirus Response: the Historic Tax Credit as An Economic Recovery Tool

Society of Architectural Historians--2020 Virtual Conference

National Women's History Museum--Women Writing History: A Coronavirus Journaling Project


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.