NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Few Nashvillians have seen the changing landscape of Nashville the same way as George Gruhn, who is a business owner in the music industry.
He has witnessed change from a unique perspective – especially the transformation of 8th Avenue.
Gruhn first opened up his business Gruhn Guitars on Broadway in 1969.
“Broadway was absolutely magical,” he remembered. “[We were] a couple hundred feet from the back door of the stage at the Ryman, which was perfect, because we got to meet all the performers, and at the time they were doing the filming for the Johnny Cash TV show.”
But, his opinion on Broadway now – like the city – has changed pretty drastically.
“Lower Broadway, I feel has evolved into one of the levels of hell in Dante’s Inferno, and I want nothing to do with it,” Gruhn said. “It was absolutely useless for selling guitars. It went from a place I could do business into a place I could not.”
In 2013, he picked up and moved to a massive space on 8th Avenue, which is now going through a transformation of its own.
“A lot of buildings going up are not memorable and are really not even built to endure,” he said.
Some changes, Gruhn recognized are good. “It is more upscale than it was. There was a fair amount on this street that was underdeveloped.”
Regardless of your opinion on the growth, the change is undeniable.
“Some of the staples of 8th Avenue we have lost. Douglas Corner, Grimey’s, Bolton’s Hot Chicken, They’ve been replaced with new businesses, and the area is a lot more residential,” said Nashville historian, David Ewing.
Another noted change further up 8th Avenue is the old movie theater that has been renovated and restored to a now favorite Nashville restaurant called Sinema. It’s surrounded by new condos and apartment buildings.
But it’s not all “New Nashville.”
There are still staples standing like Zanies Comedy Night Club, which has been in the same spot for more than 30 years.
Ewing said, “The thing I love about 8th Avenue is the architecture; The one and two story buildings, the feel of kind of how it was 20 years ago, or 50 years ago. There is still some authenticity to the street and the block.”
Perhaps the most authentic of them all is Gruhn himself, who has an affinity for antiques whether it’s guitars, artifacts, or buildings.
“If well cared for, they last,” Gruhn said, which might be why he feels so at home here.
“Things of this nature are enduring. Something like this could last for a millennia. Good guitars will last with the proper care,” he added.
Like Gruhn, they are affectionately and unapologetically “Old Nashville.”
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’.