Every time I get the opportunity to explore an old home, knowing it's demise is only a few days away, I cannot help but get attached to it. And every time a home is torn down it's like saying goodbye to a friend. I always say that I want my work to preserve a legacy instead of becoming landfill. Whether I am rescuing wood to repurpose as a table, or I am saving old family photos and treasures that once belonged to people I never knew, my hope is that I can give the homes that I've come to know a second home.
While exploring these homes and trying to learn as much as I can from what's left from the families that used to live there, I often find myself wishing I had the opportunity to rescue more and more gems from the home before it is demolished. The old fireplace that years of holidays were spent sitting in front of. A chandelier that once hung over the dining room table while the families sat down to dinner sharing stories about their day. But, as I am sure you know, there is a fine line between rescuing treasures and hoarding junk. Over the past few months I've tried to come up with a way to save these unique treasures and find them a new loving home. This is where you, reading this, comes in. I, along with the help of some friends, have spent weeks rescuing treasures from this home, documenting them, taking photos of each piece, and preparing it for it's new life with you. Starting today, I will putting these unique items that have been curated by myself and some other dedicated individuals from this home up for sale in our shop. There may only be one, or two, of each item. So, if you see something you'd like to make a part of your home, don't hesitate!
Now, without further pause, I would like to take you through our latest home and give you an inside look at what we see when exploring Nashville's urban decay. This home was located in the 12 South Neighborhood of Nashville, TN. It stood there since it was built in 1930, until only a few weeks back when it was demolished.
the ground floor
We first visited the house on a typical Nashville winter afternoon. It was cold, but sunny. The first thing I notice was the unique paint on the exterior of the home, a Green Bay Packers yellow and green. This was probably one of the biggest homes that I've had the pleasure of exploring, and I knew that we had a lot of work ahead of us. After entering the front door, again the paint caught my attention immediately; baby pink, we explored the front room. The fireplace was one of the most unique I've seen, it was rescued and will surely be installed in our home one day. There were 2 bedrooms on the first floor, one covered in books and old records, the second barricaded off with suitcases and bags of clothing. Upon further investigation we noticed that the ceiling of the barricaded bedroom had collapsed in on the bed. The kitchen was cozy, had a lot of amazing mid century hardware on the cabinets and drawers. The dining room had the most amazing chandelier with ornate metal and glass detail, again this was rescued and will most definitely be welcomed into our home. In the second living room, we found an amazing record player, brown vinyl, gold tweed speakers, and it worked; score. The record player was sitting on top of what looked like a mid century cabinet, we opened the doors to discover it was actually an old Magnavox TV unit. The last room on the main level was a sunroom, clearly an add on to the house. It had a colorful display of painted fans, more books and magazines, and some interesting christmas decorations to say the least. We suited up in our respirators and fur coats to dig in deeper. We had yet to explore the 2nd floor and massive basement.
It was dark and musty: no surprise. The power was already cut off the the home, so we only had our flashlights and a small window in the corner. We descended the stairs covered in multicolored shag carpet down. First thoughts: "this is going to take even longer than I had originally imagined." The ground was covered in black hefty bags full of vintage clothing, mid century couches, chairs, and dining room tables all stacked careless into the corners of the dark room. We dug in. Unique pieces from the 50's and 60's, perfectly patina'd farm tables, antique hand tools, the list goes on. We spent about 4-5 hours down there, making trips upstairs frequently to our stockpile of treasures we had started in the living room.
One of my favorite spots in the house was in the basement. It was a make-shift office by the small window. It had a huge desk, filing cabinets, and shelves full of books. Sadly, most of it had been damaged by what appeared to be a water leak. What I loved most about it is that it seemed untouched. From what we gathered it was the father's office. He had worked for the government, although I am not exactly sure what branch, and after he passed about 10 years back--we found a newspaper clipping of his obituary--the family left it, the way he had. Like a scene from a movie where a loved one passes away and their bedroom was left untouched, it was like a memorial. After spending most of the morning and some of the afternoon under the home, we decided that it was time to move upstairs.
the second floor
I wish the top floor was as exciting as the first two. It brought up far more questions than it gave us answers. A kitchenette, antique hide-a-ironing board, 4 more bedrooms, and a bathroom. None of the bedrooms in the entire home, except one downstairs had any doors on them. It seemed as the the second floor was an entirely separate household. Unlike the first floor there were no personal possessions or belongs, and really nothing that told us anything of who lived here. We discovered countless awards from a local church for outstanding service in the first floor bedroom. From what we could tell she outlived her husband by a few years, was very involved in her church and community, and loved helping others. Maybe this had been a boarding house of some kind? I can only imagine that she used the second floor of this home to help get struggling individuals back on their feet, but one can only wonder.
We came back early on our last day in the home. We knocked out walls, removed lath, rescued the fireplace, handrails from the stairs and other unique hardware in the house. After 5-6 more hours in the home, we loaded up our trailer and said farewell.
Driving back by the home a week later it was sad seeing the rubble in the empty lot, knowing what we had to leave behind, and what we were not able to rescue. This push to find homes for these unique treasures rescued from Nashville's urban decay is the first step towards being able to save even more of this city's rich history in the next home we explore. My hope is that you see the value in what we saved, and that you see it not as trash, but treasure. Please take a look in our shop and help give these unique treasures a new home. Until next time.