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Historic designation was just the start for Elk Lodge in desperate need of repairs

Water damage puts the historic property in jeopardy
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Posted at 6:47 PM, Nov 01, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Elks Lodge off Jefferson Street became a historic landmark in 2016, but some say the building won’t last much longer without some much-needed repairs.

It wasn’t long ago that a tree collapsed on one end of the building and since then, the Elks say the water damage has gone from bad to much worse.

You can see the water damage along with the ceiling and you can smell the deteriorating water lines that Darrell Bradford says they’ve been trying to fix on their own. They’ve gone so far as to build pillars to prop up parts of the damaged ceiling.

The walls were meant to pay tribute to artists like Jimi Hendrix, Little Richard, and countless others who graced the old Club Baron. A place that for years was known as one of few Black music venues in Middle Tennessee.

"The neighborhood is so rich with everything that’s here. Even though we don’t have the money, this neighborhood is rich because of historical landmarks like the Elks," Bradford said.

They do their best to host events outside the space, but Bradford says it hasn’t been the same. The original Club Baron went through one transformation after another over the years. It’s been everything from a club to a skating rink and pharmacy.

For generations, it’s served the interest of the community in one way or another. Bradford says repairing and returning the property to that purpose should be the priority.

“We want to help the community and have a place for the kids to come and do their homework if need be. Same for mentorship or helping single mothers with their bills,” Bradford said.

Bradford says he’s contacted Metro City leaders and FEMA to help pay for renovating this landmark. He says so far he hasn’t had much luck. He’s currently in talks with FEMA to help bring the building up to code.

While he’s not sure the estimate of what everything will cost, he’s hoping price won’t be the problem. The plaque outside shows that the city values what’s been there. Now Bradford says it’s time we value what it can become.

“As long as we take one step forward to help one family, then more will come and we can help them in the same token,” Bradford said.