One month ago today, Christmas morning 2020, a bomb ripped through downtown Nashville’s most historic district – 2nd Avenue. While my home is one block from the blast site, we were very fortunate. While our home simply needs some windows and a few new wine glasses from a collapsed shelf, our neighbors on 2nd Avenue were not so lucky. Hundreds of residents, 46 businesses and 1,200 employees were all suddenly displaced that morning. The downtown community is a tight-knit neighborhood of an eclectic blend of artists, business owners, community leaders, residents, retailers and entertainment venues.
The 2ndAveStrong campaign has been created as a way to restore and preserve this iconic neighborhood.
A Quick History of the Neighborhood
Nashville was founded along the Cumberland River. Steamships from throughout the region with sizable freight would travel the river and stop in Nashville as a major port city. Merchandise was unloaded on Front Street (now 1st Avenue) where it was loaded into the basement level of the late 1800s buildings and hoisted up to the Market Street (now 2nd Avenue) level for sale, or stored in the upper level of the buildings. From the 1870s to the late 1950s, 2nd Avenue was a bustling area of commerce for Nashville.
Post-World War II saw the “Malling of America” as urban sprawl pushed families to the suburbs and shopping came with free, easy parking and multiple stores under one roof. This had an enormous impact on the urban core, not just in Nashville but throughout the country. The whole of downtown Nashville saw a major decline in its attraction to both visitors and residents. Few businesses were interested in operating in the district, outside of adult bookstores and movie houses.
However, in the mid-1970s, signs of life began to creep back into the 2nd Avenue District, driven by downtown pioneers and entrepreneurs. From then into the 1990s, their hard work helped create the original nightlife center for downtown Nashville. The Market Street Festival was created to raise awareness about the area, warehouses were converted into condos, and national brands like The Old Spaghetti Factory and The Melting Pot arrived, signaling a renewed vibrancy to the neighborhood. By the late 1990s, 2nd Avenue was a prominent destination for visitors and locals for nightlife in downtown Nashville, which it has remained to this day.
Help to Restore and Preserve 2nd Avenue
After the bombing, it was clear a fund needed to be created to assist with the restoration and preservation of 2nd Avenue. The DISTRICT, Inc and Metro Historical Commission Foundation have created a fund to help restore the vitally important historic district of 2nd Avenue. To be clear, immediately there were funds created to directly help residents, businesses, and employees of the tragedy. The goal for the 2ndAveStrong Fund is to help with the immediate and long-term needs of building owners to restore and preserve the 2nd Avenue neighborhood. Our initial goal is to raise a milestone amount of $2 million to support the restoration and preservation of historic 2nd Avenue. Immediate needs for the fund will include:
• obtaining independent structural assessments of buildings
• salvaging and storing building materials to be used in rebuilding
• making emergency repairs to facades
• assisting owners with stabilizing buildings
The long-term use of the fund will be to:
• assist with creating a vision of a revitalized 2nd Avenue
• expert support for the associations and property owners working to restore 2nd Avenue
I have received messages from all over the country about how individuals and businesses can help. We are honored that interest in restoring the district to its historic character has begun and corporate sponsors have already donated to the 2ndAveStrong fund. A GoFundMe account has been created for private donations. Mayor John Cooper has created a task force for the 2nd Avenue District to oversee the path forward. This fund is designed to help support those efforts. Please consider a donation to the GoFundMe, or for corporate sponsorships please contact me at 615-456-3953 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CLICK HERE to support the GoFundMe
Corporate Donations please call Janet Kurtz at 615-456-3953.