Neighbor to Neighbor: Tim Walker

Neighbor to Neighbor
Name: Tim Walker
Years in neighborhood: 16 1/2
Profession: Metro Historical Commission Executive Director

Briefly describe your role with the Historical Commission.
I oversee the work of both the Metro Historical Commission (MHC) and the Metro Historic Zoning Commission (MHZC). The MHC is a municipal historic preservation agency working to document history, save and reuse buildings, and make the public more aware of the necessity and advantages of preservation across Davidson County. Created in 1966, the commission consists of 15 citizens members appointed by the mayor and confirmed by Metro Council.
The Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission (MHZC) is an architectural review board which reviews applications for work on properties that are within a Historic Overlay. Its nine volunteer members, appointed by the mayor and confirmed by council, include representatives from zoning districts, the Metro Planning Commission, the Metro Historical Commission; architects, and other citizen.

Just how busy has your team been, lately, on historic issues? Do any stand out?
The staff is busier than any time in our history. The number of staff in the office has not increased since 2005, but our workload has continued to increase. This is especially the case with the historic overlay program, where the number of properties in local districts has more than doubled in the last 10 years. With so much staff time now dedicated to the historic zoning program, there is less time available for history-related projects, including writing National Register nominations and surveying historic resources.

Why did you choose to live in Lockeland Springs, and how did its history factor into locating here?
Prior to moving to the neighborhood, I rented an apartment in Hillsboro Village. I only began spending time here following the tornado in 1998, when the office allocated additional resources to help property owners struggling to make home repairs. That’s how I met the owners of the house I now own. The architectural character, urban charm, and the neighborhood’s sense of community were a definite draw. The former homeowner’s insurance company considered the house to be a total loss due to damage suffered from the storm, and they had planned to demolish the structure and put the cleared land on the market. When I walked through the house, I felt it had lots of potential. After pondering for a week, I offered to purchase the house as-is. Six months later and once the insurance claim was settled, they sold me the property and I began a slow rehab of the house, eventually moving in, 12 months later, having made one of the best decisions of my life.

Which specific homes or architectural elements do you recommend seeing?
There are so many; it’s difficult to choose only a few, but I’ll limit my choices to three: the Tennessee State Capitol and Downtown Presbyterian Church, both National Historic Landmarks, and United Record Pressing. The State Capitol (600 Charlotte Ave.) and its grounds are an architectural gem. Built 1845-1859, the Capitol was designed by Philadelphia architect William Strickland in the Greek Revival style. Unfortunately, the building is only open during the week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but the grounds are always open and contain the gravesite of President James K. Polk and the famed equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson.
The Downtown Presbyterian Church (154 5th Ave. N.) was constructed between 1849-51 and was also designed by Strickland, but in the Egyptian Revival style. Its interior sanctuary space is unique and has been painstakingly restored over the last decade.
Finally, United Record Pressing (453 Chestnut St.) is an important site in Nashville’s music legacy. The company opened as Southern Plastics in 1949 and has been in its current location since 1962. The largest vinyl record pressing plant in North America, clients included Vee Jay and Motown records, and due to segregation in the 1960s the company built an apartment suite to house African American execs and artists, now called the “Motown Suite.” Its party room has hosted record label signing parties for The Supremes, Wayne Newton, the Cowsills and a teenage Hank Williams Jr. Tours are Fridays at 11 a.m. or by appointment.

Then and Now: 1628 Fatherland St.

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LEFT:This photograph of 1628 Fatherland Street was uncovered recently in the LSNA archives. The photo appears to date to the 1980s and shows the one-story commercial building at the corner of 17th Street and Fatherland Street as partially boarded up and marred by graffiti. The single occupied commercial unit housed a salvage shop.

RIGHT:Today the building houses the factory and retail store of Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co. The award-winning chocolatier moved into the recently renovated building in 2013. The storefront was converted into use as a commercial unit, eliminating the second entrance. The patterned brickwork was maintained, as was the bracketed awning with decorative Spanish tile.

Literacy, housing education, little league awarded grants

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East Nashville Little League, Shelby Park

The neighborhood board voted this month to give $650 grants to three organizations. Since 2013, the Lockeland Springs Neighborhood Association has supported local projects that educate, enhance safety, build community, and beautify the neighborhood.

Tennessee Alliance for Progress
The alliance works on affordable housing issues and will use its grant money to promote local educational events. The alliance has scheduled an event, “Affordable Housing, Diversity and the Future of Lockeland Springs,” for 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 30 at Village Church, 211 N. 11th Street (across from the East Branch Library). The free meeting will be facilitated by longtime Lockeland residents Bill Friskics-Warren, Michele Flynn and Nell Levin.

East Nashville Little League
The local little league, for ages 4 to 18, applied for a grant to aid in the purchase of equipment. The neighborhood association will be featured on a sponsorship sign at the ball field.

East Nashville Hope Exchange
The non-profit East Nashville Hope Exchange works on literacy for local at-risk children in first through third grades. The exchange has worked on literacy for more than 11 years and serves families in the Stratford and Maplewood clusters.

The annual grant application deadline is April 1.