By: Aja Bain, Historic Nashville Blogger
2017 Annual Meeting, Ocean Way Nashville Studios. Photo: Ed Rode
On January 19, members of Historic Nashville, Inc. and the local preservation community gathered at Ocean Way Nashville Recording Studios for the annual membership meeting. Pat McMakin, Director of Operations, welcomed attendees to the space and shared the history of the studio’s transformation from Gothic Revival church to Belmont University owned recording studio and educational facility.
Outgoing President Brian Tibbs addressed the room with a summary of Historic Nashville’s activities and issues from 2016, including October’s Nashville Nine announcement at Union Station, the continuing concerns over Music Row, and the recent demolition of the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers/Warner Brothers Records building. Tibbs stressed the importance of finding successes in failure, and the increasingly recognized role of preservationists in Nashville. He discussed Historic Nashville’s involvement in conversations with the Crittenton site developer as being indicative of progress and promise, even though the building itself was ultimately lost: “Ten years ago, that building would have been torn down and we would have found out about it on the news the next day like everyone else,” Tibbs said. “But this time, we were invited to the table to discuss why this site matters and to offer alternative ideas.” This change, Tibbs argues, shows that preservation concerns and advocates are finally being accepted as an integral part of conversations about development.
Tibbs announced and thanked outgoing board members Matthew Schutz, Sarah Jane Murray, Yuri Cunza, and Melissa Wyllie for their service. He also welcomed new board members Pam Lewis, Wanda Vickstrom, and Janell Smith along with board members Susan Hager and David McMurry who are renewing their board commitment. Patrick McIntyre was also announced as the board’s newest ex-officio member, representing the Tennessee Historical Commission. Tibbs will also remain on the board as past president. Jennifer Harrman, who brings experience with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Tennessee Preservation Trust, was introduced as the incoming president.
Local preservationist and philanthropist Aubrey Preston delivered the keynote address. Preston was instrumental in the movement to save Studio A from demolition, a project that garnered international attention and served to jumpstart Music Row preservation efforts. He spoke on the importance of maintaining history as a central part of Nashville’s identity, and on the role preservationists play as facilitators between the past and future: we must strive for a “third way” to reconcile the diverse interests and goals of all stakeholders and ensure that Nashville’s past has a place in its future. Preston also announced exciting developments for Studio A, which has gone from an endangered property to one of the busiest and most sought-after recording spaces in town. The studio will undergo a $500,000 renovation to further restore its historic character, including installing a replica of the iconic RCA Victor sign on the front of the building.
Historic Nashville is proud to celebrate another year of preservation and advocacy successes, and thanks Membership Chair Susan Hager and our wonderful volunteers for organizing and staffing this event. We also extend our thanks to Bacon & Caviar for catering services and Yazoo Brewing Company, who generously donated their time and beer for the meeting. Historic Nashville is looking forward to our 49th year of promoting and saving the places that make Nashville unique. To join us for 2017, see our membership page.