Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Creating Places: Good-bye Ransom School building

Another vintage brick building in Nashville's historic-masonry-building-sparse landscape is about to be felled by the wrecking ball.

My SouthComm colleague Joey Garrison has the full story regarding the Ransom School building here.

Eleven homes are planned to replace this understated, yet historically important, piece of architecture. And let me put this bluntly: The developer could build the 11 most design-impressive homes Nashville has ever seen and it won't matter. Why? Because Nashville already has hundreds, if not thousands, of beautiful homes. In contrast, very few architecturally noteworthy civic buildings from the pre-World War II era remain. And the vast majority that have been constructed since then, and particularly since the 1960s, are bland at best — and heinous at worst.


  1. I am all for the preservation of historical buildings and giving them new life. However, I think the Ransom building Its not that great of an historical building. You say it is important, so maybe you know more of it's story than I do. From the exterior there are a few historical details and perhaps the interior has some nice things going on? Maybe it could have been developed into some office space? It's just that it is tucked away on a dead-end street and bordered by 440. So, its not like its on a prominent artery that it could have been celebrated.

    Its a hard argument to make for historical buildings that remain abandoned for so long. If someone does not see the use or potential, it just makes it hard to justify keeping it up. Developers have to be really passionate about the property or they risk the return on investment.

  2. Don't blame the developer. The current developer, along with others who expressed interest in the property a few years ago wanted to repurpose the property for multi-family residential development, but the vocal minority of the neighbors blocked any such plans demanding the property be turned into single family homes.

  3. Interesting considering the vast amounts of multi-family residential located within blocks of that location.

  4. Admittedly, the Ransom School is no masterpiece. It's not even semi-grand. But it may as well be the masterful Hume-Fogg High School building compared to most Metro school buildings constructed since, say, 1960. And that's the concern.