New nonprofit tackles preserving the past amid Nashville's rapid growth

New nonprofit tackles preserving the past amid Nashville's rapid growth
Posted at 5:03 PM, Dec 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-14 19:50:44-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If walls could talk, imagine what they would say in Printer's Alley.

"So, right here, in fact, only the Noel Hotel and the Courtyard by Marriott are protected under what we call the Downtown District," said Kelleigh Bannen, co-founder and president of the Preservation Society of Nashville.

The nonprofit just launched and has its eyes set on places like Printer's Alley.

"I mean, Nashville is a city of storytellers, but we haven't necessarily done a great job of telling the story of our places," said Bannen.

As development consumes this city, Bannen said historic places like Printer's Alley might be at risk.

"As Nashvillians, I think it's just easy to go 'oh that place is safe — it's so important to our city; I'm sure nothing will ever happen to it.' That's just not the case," said Bannen.

The nonprofit has a lofty goal of raising a million dollars. So far they're well on their way — they've already raised more than $300,000.

"Ideally, we would hire two staff people and also be able to make a significant investment in the Revival Fund," Bannen said.

The fund would provide grants for historic places in need of support.

"The vulnerable, historic places — Second Avenue and Broadway — I mean this is actually what attracts so many of our visitors," Bannen said.

Visitors like Rhonda and Stephen Bell.

"A lot of cities are building up, they're taking out the older areas, right? They're repopulating the sky-scrapers," said Stephen Bell.

The couple was visiting from Las Vegas.

"I think they lose a little bit of the identity when they do that."

"A lot of people asked 'is there enough to save?' Which I thought was a really painful and really sad question that we've gotten to a point where it's even 'is there anything we can do?'" Bannen said.

But as Bannen looks around Printer's Alley, she knows what's at risk.

"This is not about finger-pointing," she said. "I think it's about trying to be creative and constructive as we problem-solve together."

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