Nashville’s Music Row Named One Of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has announced that Nashville’s Music Row was named to its 2019 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, an annual list that spotlights important examples of our nation’s architectural and cultural heritage that are at risk of destruction or irreparable damage.

Despite its role in the identity, economy, and culture of the city and Nashville’s reputation as Music City for more than 60 years, vital pieces of Nashville’s Music Row are being lost to growing pressure from Nashville’s rapid pace of development. Since 2013, there have been more than 50 demolitions on Music Row, as compared to the 13 demolitions that took place from 2000-2012. The majority of those demolitions were for new developments permitted by Specific Plan rezonings, for high-rise apartments and offices with no provisions to serve the music industry.

By naming Music Row to its 11 Most Endangered list, the National Trust is signaling its grave concern over the non-music industry related development on Music Row in recent years.

“Music Row is exactly the kind of cultural district that many other cities have been trying to create,” said Katherine Malone-France, interim chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “The sweeping arc of the past and present of the music industry can be felt in Nashville’s modest late-19th century bungalows and small-scale commercial buildings that have inspired and incubated the creation of music for generations. If demolitions and zoning exemptions continue, this one-of-a-kind musical ecosystem will be lost forever.”

The Metro Planning Department recently released its draft Music Row Vision Plan and is accepting public comment on the plan until June 3. Metro Nashville will hold elections Aug. 1 for mayor and members of Metro Council, marking an opportunity for citizens and fans of Music Row nationwide to voice their support for ensuring the community and character that makes Music Row a one-of-a-kind cultural district endures for generations.

The National Trust and its partner Historic Nashville, Inc. are asking the Metro Planning Department and Metro Nashville’s elected officials to make key changes to the draft Music Row Vision Plan and to enact the creation of new preservation tools including:

  1. Discontinue Specific Plan exemptions that ultimately encourage demolitions;
  2. Eliminate recommendations for increased building height allowances anywhere in the Music Row area;
  3. Designate Music Row as a Cultural Industry District in recognition of its unique role in Nashville’s economy and its worldwide significance
  4. Provide support to create a non-profit entity to promote and preserve Music Row that would manage a revolving fund to preserve significant properties for use by music businesses; provide financial options (such as low or no-interest loans) to music businesses for expansion, rehabilitation, retention, and innovation, and promote Music Row to attract new music businesses.
  5. “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 National Trust’s national audience are encouraged to sign a letter to Nashville lawmakers urging them help preserve the area.

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About the Author

Jessica Nicholson serves as the Managing Editor for MusicRow magazine. Her previous music journalism experience includes work with Country Weekly magazine and Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) magazine. She holds a BBA degree in Music Business and Marketing from Belmont University. She welcomes your feedback at [email protected]

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