NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – As you drive or walk around Nashville, do you ever wonder about the history of some of the buildings?
One Nashville author did and decided to write a book about it.
“This Used to be Nashville” is a new book by Jim Hoobler that focuses on the stories behind some popular businesses, whose history may surprise you. Some more well-known than others, of course Ryman Auditorium which most people know used to be a religious revival hall, but then there are others like the Dream Hotel, which was once a brothel called “Climax Saloon.”
The 21C Hotel used to be Gray and Dudley Hardware building and Tootsie’s Famous Orchid Lounge was a dry goods store.
“It’s a book that you can carry around with you and the way I’ve laid it out, it’s by areas of the city. So you can actually use it as a walking guide as you’re going through the city. A lot of people as they’re going by these buildings might wonder, ‘What did that used to be? Why was that built and who used this building over the years?’ For example, there’s a house down at Fifth and Broadway, which is the oldest surviving house in downtown Nashville. It’s probably from about 1820 to 1830 and it’s a bar now, but it survived. It’s right across from Bridgestone Arena. A number of these buildings have sort of the seedy history,” Hoobler said.
Some buildings, however, weren’t as lucky.
“Union Station had closed and there was talk of demolishing it; the federal government moved out of the customs house and wanted to give it away. Governor Blanton refused to take it, but fortunately the city did and saved that building,” Hoobler said. “Developers wanted to demolish all of Second Avenue. One of them, in fact, wanted to put up a 24-story office building between Bank Street and Church Street, but when the city told him, ‘No, we won’t allow that,’ miraculously, that entire block caught fire one night and burned down. Now it’s a parking lot. So there have been a lot of changes, some good, some bad.”
The book has 90 stories and pictures of buildings and their history. Hoobler says he plans to do more of these books about Nashville because it’s important to know where Nashville started to help preserve our history.
The book is available at most places where books are sold, available in paperback.