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Demolition Of Historic Music Row Home Causes Controversy

Demolition Of Historic Music Row Home Causes Controversy

CREATED Apr 21, 2014
by Chris Cannon

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The demolition of a home on Music Row has many people upset, but historic preservationists said they did all they could to try and save it.

The Victorian-era home was built in 1878, and sat just off the Music Row Roundabout. Crews demolished the structure last Wednesday.

"I saw the building being torn down at 10 a.m. and it was gone in a few hours. I can't believe it," said Allesandro Ustione, who lives in the Music Row area.

The home was torn down to make way for a new 240 room Virgin Hotel. Ustione said it was an expensive price to pay for progress.

"I'm very happy that Nashville is growing, new businesses are good for the city, but there has to be a balance, so the history and the new can coexist," he explained.

The pile of rubble that was once the home is not hard to miss when you drive or walk down Music Row. A family visiting from England was even more shocked to find the demolition site was part of a project from one of English tycoon Sir Richard Branson's Virgin companies.

"We're very proud of our history, and we look after our historical buildings, so you would have expected someone to have pointed him in the right direction," said Keith Bleakley.

The Metro Historical Commission was very involved with the development process of the property. The director tried several approaches to try and save the structure.

"The developer met with the Metro Historical Commission in December and looked at the option of trying to incorporate the house in their development.," Tim Walker, director of the Historical Commission explained.

Once the Tennessee Historical Commission got involved, they evaluated the home and determined it was not historically significant because 60 percent of the structure's interior had been demolished and renovated 50 years ago. That meant it could not be placed on The National Historic Registry.

Once it was determined there was no way to stop the demolition, preservation groups asked the developer to record the home's history.

"We asked them to document the building, which they did, through architectural drawings and photographs. And we asked them to salvage architectural features, inside and out, which they also did," Walker said.

The developer also agreed to allow preservationists to dig on the land once demolition is complete. The property is located adjacent to where Ft. Houston stood during the Civil War. They will excavate to see if they can recover any artifacts.

Along with the property where the Victorian home stood, the developer purchased three adjoining lots. Tenants in those buildings said they have to leave by May 31. 

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