Effort To Preserve Music Row Moves Forward

Posted at 5:26 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 20:47:09-04

In a victory for a group hoping to preserve historic buildings along Music Row, a proposal to add more than 60 properties to the National Register of Historic Places unanimously passed a Tennessee state review board. 

"This is a one-of-a-kind place that has a remarkable story that has national and international significance," said Carolyn Brackett, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. 

Music Row has had a significant impact on making Nashville "Music City," and along Music Row, there's a saying.

"The heart of Music City beats on Music Row," said Garth Shaw, member of the board of directors for the Music Row Neighborhood Association. 

Shaw has lived in Nashville since the early 80's when he was the road manager for Kenny Rogers, and now he calls the Spence Manor home. 

"It was actually built for Elvis Presley," Shaw explained of the historic building with a guitar pool included, adding that many famous faces have stayed at Spence Manor. "Three ex-Beatles, three ex-presidents, the whole Rat Pack."

As a member of the board of directors for the Music Row Neighborhood Association, Shaw has been working to preserve the neighborhood. He's afraid that Spence Manor, along with many other buildings along Music Row, could be replaced with cranes and high rises. 

"Some of these places really are worth saving," Shaw said, adding that the approval of the more than 60 properties by the State Review Board was a great first step.

Included in the more than 60 properties are recording studios, publishing houses, and many other businesses that contributed to shaping Music Row and Nashville. 

One of the buildings included is the "House of David." 

"B.B. King, Joe Cocker, people like that have recorded at my studio, Bo Diddley," David Briggs, owner of the House of David, said. 

Briggs said his home, which at one point had Elvis recording inside, has been a target for investors. 

"I get offers every day, at least every week," Briggs said, adding that he knows the investors aren't planning on fixing up and preserving music row properties, so he's not selling. "They want to buy them and tear them down and build big buildings." 

The more than 60 buildings up for consideration are now being sent to the Department of the Interior for final consideration. If the federal government decides the properties meet the requirements to become part of the National Register of Historic Places, then they'll be added. 

Being a part of the National Register of Historic Places doesn't prevent an investor from buying a building and knocking it down, but those behind this effort hope that it will make people think twice, and improve the education surrounding the history of Music Row. 

For a full list of properties involved in the proposal and for more information on the historical significance of Music Row, you can visit the project's website by clicking here.