National Park Service Takes Steps to Help Preserve Nashville’s Music Row
Some of the historic buildings on Nashville's Music Row are getting by with a little help from the National Park Service. The House of David recording studio has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, and new research that will pave the way for more buildings to be preserved in a similar fashion has been approved.
Driving down Nashville's famed Music Row, you'll see massive office buildings that house record labels such as Big Machine and Sony -- but you'll also see dozens of inconspicuous houses, most of which are home to recording studios, publishing houses and record labels. One such building is House of David, a 102-year-old home and recording studio that is the birthplace of classic records from acts such as Roy Orbison, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and BB King; the studio even has a secret entrance originally built for Elvis Presley!
House of David is the fourth building on Music Row to receive a place on the National Register of Historic Places, and many more are on track to be protected from alteration or demolition as nationally recognized historic locations. According to the Tennessean, the National Park Service has approved research that lists 200 music-related business operations on Music Row, as well as 65 buildings that are worthy of addition to the National Register of Historic Places because of their rich history and contribution to country music.
"The Park Service’s approval of the Music Row research is a powerful validation of our efforts to see this one-of-a-kind cultural district not only survive but thrive for generations to come,” says David Brown, executive vice president and chief preservation officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Older buildings and blocks are key components to creating successful cities and neighborhoods. Reusing and reinvesting in the historic properties of Music Row will help create a vital and economically strong area that will sustain key treasures of our nation’s musical heritage.”
The National Trust for Historic Preservation has already identified Music Row as a national treasure, which makes the addition of many buildings to the National Register all the more likely.
The debate over the preservation of Music Row is nothing new, though it especially heated up during the near-demolition of RCA Studio A in 2014: The historic studio was originally purchased by Tim Reynolds, owner of Bravo Development, who made plans to demolish the building and put condos in it place; however, thanks to the efforts of Jamey Johnson, songwriter Trey Bruce and others, philanthropist Aubrey Preston bought the building from Reynolds, with the intention of preserving it. Dozens of artists have recorded in RCA Studio A over the last 50 years, including Lyle Lovett, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Vince Gill, Faith Hill, Alan Jackson, Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Lee Ann Womack, Hank Williams, Jr., Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves and the Beach Boys, among others; Dave Cobb is now its producer-in-residence.