Nashville’s Music Row named one of America’s most endangered historic places

DANIEL SLIM/AFP/Getty Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The National Trust for Historic Preservation has named Nashville’s Music Row as one of America’s most endangered historic places.

The annual list spotlights 11 “important examples of our nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage,” according to a release.

“Despite its critical role in the identity, economy, and culture of the city and Nashville’s international reputation as Music City for more than 60 years, vital pieces of Music Row’s historic fabric are being lost to growing pressure from Nashville’s rapid pace of development, most famously—but certainly not only—evidenced by the narrowly avoided demolition of RCA Studio A,” the National Trust for Historic Preservation said Thursday.

RCA Studio A was built in 1965 and operated until 1977. In 2014, musician Ben Folds had been leasing the building when a local developer wanted to demolish it to build condominiums. It was saved from the wrecking ball after public outcry.

“With the loss of so many historic resources since Music Row’s designation as a National Treasure in 2015, it’s critical that the city coalesces plans to protect this neighborhood—which is internationally renowned for its contribution to music culture—and keeps it viable for the creative class that built our music industry,” said Tim Walker, executive director of the Metro Nashville Historical Commission.

The organization says there have been 50 demolitions on Music Row since 2013.

America’s Most Endangered Historic Places (in alphabetical order):

  • Ancestral places of Southeast Utah. Located between Bears Ears and Canyons of the Ancients, this part of Southeast Utah is home to irreplaceable artifacts that are thousands of years old. It’s threatened by oil and gas extraction.
  • Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge, Bismarck, North Dakota. Built in 1883, this rail bridge was the first to span the Upper Missouri River. Advocates want it to be refurbished as a pedestrian bridge.
  • The Excelsior Club, Charlotte, North Carolina. A private social club for African Americans after it opened in 1944, the club once hosted luminaries like Nat King Cole and Louis Armstrong. It needs significant repairs and perhaps new ownership.
  • Hacienda Los Torres, Lares, Puerto Rico. Already on the National Register of Historic Places, this 1846 site was built at the height of Puerto Rico’s flourishing coffee industry.
  • Industrial Trust Company Building, Providence, Rhode Island. Nicknamed the “Superman Building” because it looks like the Daily Planet building from Superman comics, this iconic Art Deco tower is vacant and has no plans for redevelopment.
  • James R. Thompson Center, Chicago, Illinois. Chicago’s best example of Post-Modernism on a grand scale, the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center may be sold and demolished.
  • Mount Vernon Arsenal and Searcy Hospital, Mount Vernon, Alabama. Used for over 200 years as an arsenal, a prison and later a mental hospital for African Americans, it closed in 2012 and is currently vacant.
  • Nashville’s Music Row, Nashville, Tennessee. More than 200 music-related businesses produced hits across genres, but this neighborhood dating back to the late 19th century is attracting new development — which has translated into 50 demolitions since 2013.
  • National Mall Tidal Basin, Washington, DC. Part of “America’s Front Yard” is facing multiple threats: unstable sea walls, rising sea levels and outdated infrastructure.
  • Tenth Street Historic District, Dallas, Texas. This is one of America’s rare remaining Freedmen’s towns, communities built by former slaves who were emancipated. This historic district is shrinking due to large numbers of demolitions.
  • Willert Park Courts, Buffalo, New York. A notable example of Modern design and the first public housing project in the state of New York made available to African American residents, this historic complex is vacant and awaiting redevelopment plans.
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