NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The historic 8th Avenue reservoir is undergoing a improvement project after almost crumbling down more than 100 years ago.
Nestled on top of a hill just south of the city sits a prized piece of Nashville’s history, according to Metro Water Services Manager of Strategic Communications Sonia Allman.
“We wanted to preserve the historic nature of the reservoir, this is a huge piece of Nashville history, sitting here high on the hill,” Allman said.
The long-standing structure has been responsible for serving Nashville clean drinking water for well over 100 years.
“Most people don’t understand that this is where your water came from,” said Davidson County Historian Carole Bucy.
And some also don’t understand the history and horror that comes along with this iconic structure, too.
“I think about the history of the reservoir here and what we could have lost,” said Bucy.
To understand what could have been lost, you must understand where it all began.
Here’s the Backstory: Back in 1889, construction was complete on the 8th Avenue Reservoir.
On top of the hill sat 51 million gallons of water. Pumped from the Cumberland River then distributed through the two compartments inside, this was Nashville’s water system. All of which worked well until 1912.
“In 1912, we did have somewhat of a doomsday, here in this part of Nashville,” Bucy said.
After about 20 years, you can imagine the wear and tear on the walls of the reservoir, one of which came crumbling down.
“Suddenly this rush of water came down the hill, wiping out homes, foundations, we were very fortunate that no one lost their life,” Allman said.
As the clock struck midnight on Nov. 5, 1912, waves of water rushed down the hill.
“So when you have 25.5 million gallons water, rushing down an extremely steep hill, it rushed into the neighborhoods, into what we now consider Geodis Park, and the fairgrounds,” Allman said.
Remarkably, no one died in this disaster. Instead of accepting defeat, the wall was repaired just two years later and you can still see where the repairs were made today.
“Nashville has worked really hard in recent years to preserve structures like this, at a time when many, many, things are coming down,” Bucy said.
In fact, the reservoir is currently in the middle of an improvement project.
Metro Water Services is essentially building a tank inside a tank. This is to keep the historic structure standing but also to improve water quality.
“I care deeply about these landmarks because they are our story. It’s our identity as Nashvillians,” said Bucy.
The project is expected to be complete in the coming years, with the hopes of bringing Nashvillians into the story.
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“Because this is such a historic monument, we want to allow visitors,” said Allman.
After serving Nashville for 134 years, Metro Water Services hope to keep the water flowing for even more years to come.