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.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Creating Places: Hull, Sevier buildings face uncertainty

The news was enough to relieve my stomach of a snack of granola, raisins, almonds and peanut butter. Earlier today, a good friend called to note state employees working in the Cordell Hull Building (seen at left below in an image courtesy of Google Maps) were planning to move and that the modernist building eventually might be demolished. I cobbled together a basic story, verifying that the personnel moves seemingly are looming and the building's fate is very uncertain (read more here).

It is no secret four state office buildings (including the art deco John Sevier State Office Building next to Hull) face very tentative futures. Check this Chattanooga Times Free Press story for a nice overview. However, many folks are now wondering if those buildings actually might be razed.

I'm cautiously optimistic neither Hull nor Sevier will face the wrecking ball. Were such a drastic move announced, the outcry would be deafening, as the two architectural gems beautifully frame the east side of Capitol Hill. Both represent the type timeless civic structures that, sadly, we don't see constructed much nowadays. To lose either would be tragic.

I'll keep you posted as I learn more.


  1. These two buildings should NOT be demolished. They are lovely and historic and frame the state capitol building beautifully.

    I can understand that they are no longer viable for modern offices, but they need to be repurposed for the future. I'm thinking some type of museum or art gallery would be ideal.

    I also read that Gov. Haslam has decided that state government will abandon the state office tower in downtown Memphis and relocate staff to other office space. This is another huge blow for Memphis as their downtown is becoming a ghost town and losing office workers. Just last week, Pinnacle Airlines announced it was moving to Minneapolis in May, leaving the One Commerce Square building 70% empty. Other downtown Memphis buildings have suffered as Raymond James Co. has emptied many floors at the former Morgan Keegan tower; the 100 North Main Bldg. is largely empty, and the Sterick Bldg. and Chisca Hotel are long empty and huge blights on downtown.

    Compared to Memphis, downtown Nashville absolutely thriving. What a contrast between the two cities.

    1. AMous,

      Excellent post. I was born in Memphis and hate to the see the city suffer. Agree on the need to keep Hull and Sevier buildings.


    2. Pinnacle leaving is not such a bad thing. The company has drained the city on incentives and given nothing in return. There are 500 employees leaving One Commerce, but not nearly that many will be keeping their jobs in Minnesota as Pinnacle drastically downsizes. Good riddance. Yes the Sterick Building is an eyesore and needs to be razed, too much $$ for developers to do anything profitable. Construction on the redevelopment of the Chisca Hotel is set to begin in the spring as high-end apartments and ground floor retail. The Pinch District north of downtown is set for millions of $$ in redevelopment as the Pyramid is reopened as the flagship Bass Pro Shop in October. New lifestyle center and hotels are planned for that area. Outside of downtown, the Midtown area is on fire with the re-development of Overton Square as a hot spot once again and the Crosstown area turning into the East Nashville or 12 South type of neighborhood. The Fairgrounds is undergoing huge renovations (the kind that Nashville wants to do, but being slowed by people wanting to save that dump).Memphis isn't doing so bad, but news outlets in Nashville thrive on only reporting the bad stuff.

    3. AMous 5 p.m.,

      Some great update info on the Bluff City. I like it. Would hate to see Sterick razed, but there may be no other option. Agree on the Nashville media bias.


  2. The State Museum wants to move out of the basement of the James K. Polk building (underneath TPAC)...why not reconfigure the Cordell Hull building as a new home for the museum. Maybe the Nashville arts patron, Martha Ingram, could head up a fundraising effort to get such a deal underway!

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