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.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Creating Places: Woodmont Baptist signage

Woodmont Baptist Church officials recently updated, to vast improvement, their property signage (seen on the right) on the northeast corner of Hillsboro Road and Woodmont Boulevard. Note the current signage — with its attractive materials, shape and colors — stands in proper context compared to the main building. Compared to the original sign (at left), it is much more understated and tasteful, as the now-removed sign featured the time of worship and pastor name, elements that suggested a billboard-like "advertisement" quality. I can't even fathom how the folks who chose the previous sign thought it was attractive. The maroon and white color scheme and flimsy looking materials were, very simply, ugly. In contrast, the new sign ranks among the top 5 percent of signs (regardless of type) Nashville has gotten in the past few years. Excellent effort.


  1. Such a shame that W'mont Baptist is surrounded by that horribly ugly "sea" of asphalt. I just don't get why those big churches are such a blight on their surroundings with parking (that's only used twice a week), virtually no trees in front, and cheap looking materials (although W'mont is one of the few truly attractive "mega church" buildings). Not to pick on one particular denomination, but it seems that certain church affiliations look at warehouse-looking buildings and massive parking lots as a status symbol ("Look how big we are!")

    1. Woodmont Baptist is hardly a "mega church" and has been a fixture on that corner for decades. As church buildings go, this one is nice and fits in well with the neighborhood. The parking lots are not an issue for me.

    2. Maybe the biggest problem for this poster
      is the number of people attending, which
      do have to park an auto. Great church.

    3. Woodmont Baptist is hardly used only "twice a week." The church has many programs for its members and for the community. I'm not a member there, but am aware of the good it and many other churches do in our community.

  2. You may notice that A'mous said the building was fine. But the parking lot is an eyesore... very simple. There's not much W'mont can do about it at this point, as their building fits smack-dab in the middle of their property... but they could plant some trees (for Heaven's sake!).

    Also, you apparently to A'mous' comments a bit too much to heart (I don't think s/he meant any harm to W'mont specifically). However, I did get his/her point that the megachurches (which I catch your point) built today are really ugly structures. I mean, can't they at least build something mildly attractive (with natural materials, somewhat interesting style/layout, etc.) without having to be too elaborate and expensive. I can think of dozens of examples of what A'mous means (On Hayes Street for example). Right, the mission of churches (we hope) centers around saving souls... but with all the money that W'mont has, you'd think they could plant a few trees in the parking lot and do some attractive landscaping. They could even make it a congregational project.

  3. Personally, I hope someday church parking lots will overflow.

    Anyway, as to stay on point with William's ACTUAL article. The sign is very well done. They did an extraordinary job of incorporating elements of the historic building without creating a "miniature version" which tends to happen frequently in signage.

    My beef is with the all the signage throughout Green Hills. Just drive down Hillsboro Road. It's all a cluster! I understand codes are now implemented to reduce the sizes and quantities, but there is nothing that can be done about all that is grandfathered in. A visitor from out of town would never guess it is Nashville's high-end retail district.

  4. Green Hills is a visual mess. Could not pressure be put on the few businesses along Hillsboro Rd. who still have the gargantuan signs?

    I'm bothered more by the huge blank wall of the rear of the Kroger store. When you approach GH on Abbott Martin Rd., the first thing one see's is the massive, block long rear wall of the Kroger. Perhaps they could paint it another color, add some texture or design, or even a mural.

    As for Woodmont Baptist Church, I think the new sign is nice and matches the stone of the main building well. Because this corner lot has so much acreage, I'm not bothered by the parking lots. There are trees there already, perhaps a few more would be a nice addition.


  5. Friends,

    The church parking lot is actually fairly nice as far as surface lots go, as some pleasant landscaping helps. I just wish the lot were not fronting the entrance of the building. This is a very attractive structure and to have a surface lot in front mars its appearance.

    Agreed on nasty Green Hills signs in general.