If you haven't read part I in this series that covers the history of Market Street/2nd Ave, I'd recommend you check that out first.
But picking up where I left off in the previous post, I'm now beginning to talk about the history of the street around the turn of the century, which is when the name of the street changed from Market to 2nd Ave.
Sorry this one is MUCH longer than the first post, but there's just so much to talk about and I weighed it down with photos as well!
Like the previous post, if you'd prefer to simply look at photos, check out the slideshows below. The first is of the damage from the Christmas Day, 2020 bombing, and the second slideshow includes photos from the 1976 Market Street Fall Festival (slides donated to Metro Archives by Fletch Coke)...
From a Noun to a Number
The bill to "rename the streets west of the Cumberland River, running North and South" was introduced by the City Council as bill no. 90 in October, 1904, and passed in December of the same year. Like pretty much every city in the country, the names were changed in the interest of efficiency.
The photo below is from the 1904 Nashville City Council Minutes, featuring the bills on introduction from October, 1904.
And just as a historical side note about the other changes being proposed to the city, you'll notice in the above image a few other items being proposed at the same time as the street renaming:
- Street car segregation: "Providing for separate street cars for white and colored persons." Sadly, we already know that this passed but was often met with resistance, like in this Criminal Court case from 1921...
- "Providing for all employees of the City to reside in the corporate limits of the City." This passed.
- "Amending privilege license law as to circus parades." Random, but there you have it.
Why Do We HAVE to Change the Name?
Like most changes in Nashville, the name change proposal was not fully welcome by all citizens of Nashville; some felt the need to express their discontent via an op-ed, which also shows that even though the bill was introduced in October, it was clearly a rumor around town beforehand.
More Businesses Over the Years
Just like in part I of this series, I included a list of various businesses that had once existed on Market Street. The indexing of businesses from city directories is still on-going, but so far, the years listed below are what I've been able to index and I wanted to cover a large timespan.
Where hotels, saloons, candy shops and other tradesmen once called home, now saw a gradual shift from a market-type area to more manufacturing. The most prominent household-known businesses were H.G. Lipscomb & Co., Wholesale Hardware; Nashville Sash and Door Co.; Washington Mfg. Co.; and actually, many candy shops.
So though this isn't every business that once existed, here's a few that once called 2nd Ave home in the 20th century...
Food, Beverages, Grocers, etc.
In the early 1900's, the creator of the Cheek-Neal Coffee Company (brewers of Maxwell-House Coffee), Joel Owsley Cheek, actually spent a few years on Market Street, learning his trade. The same building mentioned further down as the home for the Nashville Sash and Door Co. (148-152), is where he worked as a grocer, clerk, traveling agent and partner for Webb, Cheek, & Co.
Though the 1901 Directory doesn't seem to match the name, you still see what the Cheek's were up to in that year...
- @ 100 2nd Ave: David H. Egan, "Soft Drinks" - Beverages that became more popular thanks to Prohibition, and especially this early on since Nashville established some of their own laws before the 18th Amendment.
- @ 108: M.E. Derryberry & Co., Whole Grocers
- @ 115: Nashville Dairy Supply Co.
- @ 151: Hill's Restaurant
- @ 158: Britt & Roberts, fruits (also there up through 1931)
- @ 176: Orr, Jackson & Co., Whole Grocers
- @ 127: Ame Tea & Coffee Co.
- @ 130: Hooper Grocery Co.
- @ 106 (and residence at 106 1/2): K P Douvros Restaurant
- @ 108: Fireside Coffee Co.
- @ 164-168: Orr Robt & Co. Inc., Whole Grocery's (a store that I believe was there before and remained on 2nd Ave for many years)
- @ 100: Four Leaf Clover Restaurant
- @ 111: Parker & Co. Food Brokers
- @ 149: Chambers Restaurant
More Candy Shops
- @ 123-125: Huggins Candy Co., Candy Manufacturers
- @ 143: Sterling Candy Manufacturing Co.
- @ 169-171: Eagle Candy & Co.
- @ 127: Lovelace Candy Co.
- @ 145, 147: Lovelace Candy Co. and Manufacturing Co.
- @ 134-136: Charles Nelson Whole Liquors
- @ 175: Jack Daniel's Whole Liquors
To keep this short, this is just all other types of businesses that once called 2nd Ave home...
- @ 111: Paul Bansen, Jeweler
- @ 116: Postal Tel Cable Co.
- @ 139-143: Goodpasture & Tennison, Harness and Saddle Manufacturers
- @ 182: John Deere Plow Co. (by 1920-21, the company's address changed to 118 2nd Ave)
- @ 128: Cline & Bernheim; Hebrew Relief Society
- @ 150 (1931), 154 (1920-21): Nashville Bag & Burlap Co.
- @ 174: Berry Demoville & Co.
- @ 104: Walter Melton, Barber
- @ 184: Tenn Glass Co. and the Second Avenue Tailor Shop
- @ 111: Dobson-Hicks Co. Whole Seeds
- @ 120-24: Am Paper & Twine Co.
- @ 128-30: Berry Whole Drug Co.
- @ 148-52: Nashville Sash & Door Co. - I already mentioned this business above, but it was also located in a unique building that featured some of the most elaborate moldings and cornices of any façade on the street. The business remained at this address from approximately 1927-1984, before relocating to the suburbs (as the growing traffic downtown made the "warehouse district" difficult to navigate).
This last business isn't on 2nd Ave, but I have to say, their ad gets straight to the point...
"Magnificent Statement of Architectural Heritage"
Despite the street's early years as a bustling market area with a variety of businesses, things changed in the late 20th century.
Over the years, the street was widened, causing the westside buildings to either move back or cut off their façades. More traffic flowed through, parking was brought on and then taken away again later (slanted parking spaces that is); actually parking remained an issue for the downtown businesses when parking spaces were taken away (it still can be a pain even now).
Various types of businesses came and went, ultimately changing the attraction and use of 2nd Ave.
As of today, we know 2nd Ave as a popular attraction to many, but at one point, this downtown area was mostly avoided outside of work hours. In fact, at least in the early 1970's, "the average Nashvillian [was] oblivious to the street and indeed to the area." It was in an area "...in that dowdy section of town away from and down the hill from all the action." With warehouses taking up most of the street, shopping died down and living down there seemed less desirable.
One of the articles I read goes into thorough detail of the condition of 2nd Ave in 1972, and the importance of preserving the street for obvious reasons, and the quality of the city, essentially.
In the winter, 1972 edition of the Tennessee Historical Review, Neil Bass (a Nashville architect) provides a reverent description of the buildings and their history...
"...there is a quite dignity to the street - a strong sense of unity - like every building is locked arm in arm with his neighbor profoundly but silently testifying to the spirit and vigor of Nashville in the 1870's."
The writer also goes into detail of what makes these buildings unique by themselves and as one collection, which I'll just provide a small clip of (cause it covers an entire page)...
"There is a remarkable continuity in the facades - each of brick, each punctuated with a rhythm of windows arranged with regularity without being repetitious and each crowned by a projecting cornice....in short, the street is an architectural masterpiece."
Preserving the History
In the late 1970's, the Metro Historical Commission worked with 4 other organizations to put on the Market Street Fall Festival, as a way to bring awareness to the Historic 2nd Ave Warehouse District and help revitalize it. I'm not sure how many years the festival took place, but at least for two years (1976-77).
See the slideshow of photos from the 1976 festival at the top of the blog post.
The Historical Review article was coincidentally written at the same time that "the area" (meaning 2nd Ave N, Broadway to Union) was being added to the National Register of Historic Places because it was deemed by many historians, to be...
"...the largest uninterrupted assembly of commercial Victorian structures in the nation."
This would help protect the buildings and district in the coming years. Though sadly, not always, like in the case of the buildings torn down after a devastating fire in October, 1985, that left very little on the east side of 2nd Ave N in the 200 block.
Only the façades remained after the fire, and sadly those weren't able to be saved either with the owners of the building having no interest in preserving what was left (according to the news clipping I read, at least).
An interesting piece of info about Neil Bass (the writer of the Historical Review article), he actually restored the building at 170 2nd Ave N in 1968. So his article was like a "do as I say AND do as I do".
This apparently stirred a renewed interest in the historic street; in fact, I came across several news articles throughout the 1980's, talking about the various buildings being renovated with plans for hotels, restaurants, and other attractions.
Quite a bit of change occurred, so much that a 1994 news clipping references a downtown property owner saying 2nd Ave was "getting like Reno", with the addition of "flashing signs and loud speakers" making the street "tacky". To each their own opinion, I guess.
So, what came next for the street was the consideration of adding it to the already-existing Capitol Mall Redevelopment District, limiting the types of businesses that came to 2nd Ave.
That meant excluding places like liquor stores and adult entertainment establishments. I've only come across news articles about the attempt to add the street to the district though, never a confirmation that it was added. If anyone knows the answer, let me know!
Big changes came in 1996 though, when the Metro Council adopted a historic zoning overlay for 2nd Ave, making it impossible for property owners to change the look of their buildings without approval from the Metro Historic Commission.
But with this overlay, this helps protect the architectural and historical integrity that makes up one of Nashville's oldest streets. This is most important especially now as we rebuild after the bombing, and Bass' article provides a great quote to summarize why...
"...for the new and vigorous rebuilding of the downtown area is an essential ingredient of a wholesome city."
Detailed Property Info on 2nd Ave Buildings
Doing a thorough property research of the entire block of 2nd Ave, between Broadway and Church, is quite an extensive process. One I WISH I had the time for; but thankfully I don't need to.
The Special Collections department here at the Library are a wonderful partner to us in Archives, and provided me with some extra help for this 2nd Ave history dive; thank you again, Linda Barnickel!
I'll briefly explain the background of one of the buildings that was heavily damaged from the bombing. But for all other details, I'll send to you to the Content DM page created by Linda (and look out for a future blog post by Special Collections, talking more about this specific page).
The information is from the Historic Nashville Inc. Downtown Survey Collection, and includes photographs and an inventory background on each building. For example, here's what you can learn about 174 2nd Ave N (the building that's totally collapsed):
- Built in 1875
At the time of the survey in 1980, it was occupied by Southern Coat & Dress Co.
Made of brick, 4 stories tall. It has tall, rectangular windows with heavy, ornamented hoods. The cornice at the top of the structure is identical in style with 176 2nd Avenue North, and is a typical feature of the Italianate architectural style.
In the basement of the building (that opens onto 1st Ave), there is an old, coal-fired furnace, dated 1890.
Though I'm not sure who the first resident of this building was when it was first built - in 1908, the drug firm "Berry and Demoville" that been previously established in 1834, moved to this building from the Public Square.
Lastly, I'll leave you with a slideshow of Market Street/2nd Ave images that span almost 200 years...
'Til next time,