THC#: DV-16699 COUNTY: Davidson QUAD: Nashville West (308 NE)
PROPERTY INFORMATION: Historic/Common Name: North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (Historic)
Property Location: 400-402 8th Avenue South
HISTORIC BACKGROUND: Date of Construction: 1927
Other Information: During the 1920s this section of Nashville continued to house a large African-American population between 8th Avenue and 1st Avenue, South. This two-story brick building was completed during two phases beginning in 1927 to house various businesses catering to the area’s African American-residents, including those living next door in the Avery Apartments (razed 1995). Both this building and the apartments were built by the local AME church.
The first floor of the south side of the building was originally occupied by the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Founded in Durham, North Carolina, in 1898, the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was the first and largest African-American life insurance company in the United States. This company occupied the first floor of the 402 storefront (right) until the 1960s.
The 400 storefront (left) – built in the second phase - was occupied by Johnson Cleaners from the 1930s to the 1950s. Occupants on the second floor included the Gralo Beauty Shop and dentist Sewell Freeman.
As African-American residents moved out of the area by the 1960s, these businesses closed or relocated elsewhere. In recent decades the building has been renovated for commercial uses. The 400 block was most recently occupied by an architectural firm. An apartment is located on the 2nd level of the 402 block.
Two-story, four-course common bond, five bay brick commercial building with an asphalt shingled gable roof, double-hung one-over-one light windows, brick exterior, and continuous stone foundation. Gable ends have louvered vents. At the primary (west) facade are an enclosed window transom and replacement ca.1990 double-hung windows. The building retains original concrete sills and brick jack arches. At the roofline is decorative brickwork. The south end of the main facade has a single-light door and enclosed transom. This side of the building is presently vacant.
NATIONAL REGISTER ASSESSMENT: NOT ELIGIBLE
This commercial building of the 1920s does not possess architectural or historical significance to meet National Register criteria. In the early twentieth century, this section of 8th Avenue South contained a variety of apartments, commercial buildings, and residents for the area’s African-American residents. African-American residents lived along 8th Avenue South and adjacent streets, however, the street was never a major residential neighborhood or center for African-American commerce. The most significant area of African-American commerce and residential development during the 1920s was along Jefferson Street and the area of North Nashville. This commercial building was constructed when 8th Avenue South was being transformed from a residential street to an area of light industrial and warehouse uses. No particular historical significance associated with the occupants of this building has been identified.
For further information please contact:
Metro Public works Media Relations
Jonathan Cleghon, PE
Metropolitan Government of Nashville
Department of Public Works
720 South 5th Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37206
Jeffrey Glass, PE
Florence & Hutcheson
631 2nd Avenue South, Suite LL-D
Nashville, TN 37210
(615) 457-2386 (Fax)