Friday, June 29, 2007

Nashville Modern

I put together the following and posted the information on the Lotta Living Forums - the thread was about some interesting buildings I encountered while traveling in Nashville, Tennessee:

Nashville Tennessee MCM and Googie

I recently went to Nashvile Tennessee to visit my 82 year-old mother (she was being hospitalized for a mild stroke, so the circumstances weren't the best - however bringing my camera and "focusing" some of my attention on the localized scenery provided some much needed distraction). Here are some snaps I took that I thought you all might find of some interest:

The area I visited was on Nashville's West End in the Belle Meade neighborhood - this was a rather upper-crust area that borders Vanderbuilt University and many private prep schools. The architecture is very diverse, with Craftsman bungalows siding next to MCM synogogues and wildly angular churches. My mother was admitted to St Johns Hospital - one of the best heart facilities in the state (some might argue in the Southeast). There were two nearby buildings that captured my interest. One was the old Belle Meade theater (now housing some retail business) and the Imperial House (I'm not sure of the original intent of this building - I believe it held condos or appartments).

Belle Meade Theater:
This theater is a rather interesing survivor of the art deco period with all the usual bits: stone and glass tile, stainless steel, and an amazing tower (remarkably still standing).

Imperial House:
I'm not sure why I love the design of this building so much. It could be the wing-shaped motif, reiterated throughout the degisn, or the gigantic decorative block - you be the judge.

John Eaton(Originally published 2005.03.27 in the thread: "Nashville Tennessee MCM and Googie" on the Lotta Living forums)


Record Relics said...

Loved that you were impressed with the Imperial House recently. I was born and raised in Nashville and lived there until 2006, and as a very young kid we often traveled past this unique building on the way to my grandmother's house. I was simply fascinated with it and used to tell my Mom I wanted to live there. Never did, but I still think it's very cool and find it unfortunate that it is in danger of being demolished (it's now owned by neighboring St. Thomas Hospital, who closed the building in 2005). It's also in a flood plane. The Belle Meade Theater across the street is a surviving relic of the days of yore! The part of Nashville you visited is indeed a great place, but Nashville is full of interesting modern and not-s-modern architecture. I hope next time you visit it is under better circumstances and you can explore a broader territory. Be sure to check out Cheekwood mansion, Percy Warner Park, Traveler's Rest, and Fort Negley.

Brian Siskind said...

I made a visual dirge/memorial for a building I love.

The Imperial House - A rare and stunning example of mid-century architecture in Nashville - on the verge of demolition.

"Imperial House Apartment Building – Located at 109 Bosley Springs Road next to the St. Thomas Hospital campus, this distinctive high-rise apartment building was designed by local
architect Earl S. Swensson, FAIA. Completed from 1961-1964, the 110-unit apartment building was constructed with a structural framework made of pre-cast concrete. Likewise the cantilevered “pods” above the balconies and parking canopies are made of precast concrete. Other notable architectural details include the use of perforated concrete block screen walls; an exterior “skin” featuring marble chips and aluminum trip; and stylized private balconies with decorative railings. St. Thomas Hospital
purchased the 7-acre property in 1984 and later renovated it for use as elderly housing. However, in 2005, St. Thomas Hospital was forced to temporarily shutter the building due to the lack of a sprinkler system. The Imperial House Apartment Building is a rare example of Mid-Century Modern-style
architecture in Nashville."