Can Nashville’s Music Row really be saved? Iconic neighborhood disappearing at alarming rate

Special Reports

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — When Harold and Owen Bradley opened Quonset Hut studio on 16th Avenue, Nashville’s historic Music Row was born.

It became a densely packed campus of writers, artists, publishers and studios.

Brian Mansfield with Historic Nashville knows Music Row history.

BMI Music Row
(Photo: WKRN)

“It’s the place people think of when they think of Nashville, and something happened in these few city blocks that has never really happened like this anywhere else in the world.”

But these days, Music Row is disappearing at an alarming rate consumed by construction, and as it goes, many feel so do the stories that define us.

“Just about every building from here to Division Street has a story in it that in any other town would make that building an icon,” said Mansfield.

Music Row’s fate seemed sealed when RCA Studio a was sold and set for demolition a few years back. It seemed even the birthplace of the Nashville sound was doomed.

RCA Music Row
(Photo: WKRN)

Musician and producer Trey Bruce suddenly found himself in the middle of the effort to save Studio A.

“Within days, it was an absolute war, absolute war. And it looked like every single minute we were going to lose, people were patting me on the back with sympathy everywhere for three or four months,” explained Bruce.

Studio A was spared but only thanks to one big $6 million check.

News 2 is reporting on Nashville’s historic growth and the growing pains that come with it. READ MORE on Nashville 2021

It’s a rare victory and maybe a little personal for Bruce, who recalled the story of his dad, Ed Bruce, who one day pitched a song down at the United Artists tower, was rejected, walked down 17th Avenue with guitar in hand, and came to 1006 17th Avenue South where he recorded “Mama’s don’t let your baby’s grow up to be cowboys.”

The National Trust named Music Row one of America’s 11 most endangered historic places a couple years ago and it is still at a critical juncture.

“You’ve lost studios, you’ve lost publishing houses. Driving down here this morning, they have cranes over where Ray Stevens had a studio, Chet Atkins had an office,” said Mansfield.

That takes us back to where it started, and perhaps the perfect example of preservation.

Decca Records Quonset Hut
(Photo: WKRN)

“The Quonset Hut still stands and they build three stories record label around it. You can see the North curb of the hut from the parking lot. So if they could figure that out in the 80s, we can figure out now how to build something around something that matters,” said Bruce.

Forging a path to a new Nashville, while building around our past.

Nashville’s historic growth continues to change the city, but some people say it’s taking away the Music City’s hometown feel. News 2 weighs the pros and cons with day-long reports on ‘Lost Nashville’.

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