Goodbye Charlotte Avenue?

It appears so.  After two years on the market, the building of the Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ will very likely come down…and soon.  Soon as in a matter of days (pending formalities and the removal of the windows). I snapped a few photos Tuesday on my lunch break.

Here is one of the most recent news stories.  Google will turn up more stories going back to 2007 when the congregation merged with West Nashville Heights to form Charlotte Heights Church of Christ.  Be sure to look at this one to see a fabulous shot of the interior.  It has received considerable attention in the Nashville media due to efforts in the area to revitalize Charlotte Avenue and the surrounding neighborhood.  Years before I-40, West Nashville was an early, bustling suburb close to downtown.  Charlotte Avenue is a main east-west corridor in and out of Nashville.  Churches, shops, schools, parks and neighborhoods filled the area.  The interstate opened new opportunities to live outside the city and commute in and the area decayed.   46th and Charlotte is something of a landmark intersection in Nashville, due in large measure to the Charlotte Avenue building and the I-40 interchange at 46th.  This sign atop the educational wing at the rear of the church greeted interstate traffic for as long as I can remember:

The church met on this corner for over a hundred years.  The tan brick building is a 1921 replacement of the original red brick building.  With an interior patterned after the Ryman Auditorium, it was completed not long before N. B. Hardeman began his twenty-year Tabernacle Sermon series.  As the pictures show, it grew over time to include a large educational facility.  At one time the congregation numbered around 1,000 members, placing it among the largest churches (of any denomination) in Nashville and one of the largest among Churches of Christ east of the Mississippi.  Preachers during those years were Athens Clay Pullias, Willard Collins and Mack Wayne Craig.  C. E. W. Dorris lived for many years on Morrow Road.  I suspect he may have worshipped and perhaps preached at old West Nashville Christian Church.

The landmark has become a lighting rod: a quick check of the comments on the online news stories will reveal how divided the community has become.  In fact, as I was snapping pictures one lady driving by rolled down her window and hollered out…”Get yer pictures quick!  Reckon they’ll tear it down!”  That day may be sooner than we think.  If when so, I’ll post more pics.

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7 thoughts on “Goodbye Charlotte Avenue?

  1. Mac:

    My parents were married in the Charlotte Ave. chapel on July 4, 1952. A sad thing that the building cannot be saved…

      • My parents were married by Barton Laws, who was my dad’s first cousin. Interestingly enough, Barton was married to Vivian Pack, who was also my dad’s first cousin, but Barton and Vivian weren’t related to each other. The Laws and the Packs were clans living near the Brandons in Carroll Co.

        Interesting as well, my dad’s dad’s family has deep roots to the Roan’s Creek congregation in Carroll Co. Quite a few Brandons still attend the congregation, five or six cousins removed. My dad’s mom’s family has deep roots in the Rock Church congregation in Dickson Co.

        One more fact you’ll find interesting, Vivian’s grandmother was my great-grandmother and who was a student in the women’s division of Franklin College under Sis. Fanning. She was living on the Lipscomb farm (home of our alma mater) during the battle of Nashville in 1864. Dr. Hooper was able to get her letters via Vivian for his biography of Lipscomb, and the letters are in the university library special holding. I suppose I should find an opportunity to go and read them.

        As for getting married on the Fourth of July, it happened to be on a Friday, so they got the honeymoon of the long weekend. It is said that getting married on a Friday is bad luck; I would just say that they were married for 48 years until Mom died in 2001. I would do as well to enjoy such bad luck, Lord willing.

      • That’s fascinating. I knew of your Roan’s Creek roots back to the 1830′s if not earlier. That was a Stoneite church? I didn’t know the Franklin College connection. I would like to read those letters myself.

        Might you be kin to the Brandon’s of the Brandon Printing Company in Nashville, 1880′s-1900′s? The owner was a member at Woodland Street in the 1880′s; they printed Harding’s famous “Nashville Debate” in 1889 and I think remained at Woodland Street after the unpleasantness over the Tennessee Christian Missionary Society. Possible they went with Sewell and others who formed Tenth Street Church of Christ, later known as Russell Street Church of Christ.

  2. It’s a shame to see that building torn down. Is there something special about the windows? Or did they just sell them.

  3. I attended Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ from 1967 to 1971 while I was a student at David Lipscomb College. Dean Mack Wayne Craig was Minister at the time. The Church had a strong membership at the time, and the singing was some of the best in any Church of Christ in Nashville. Part of the reason for that was Mack Wayne Craig. It is indeed sad to hear what has happened. The Church is in an area that could definitely use what it has to offer. Buses back in the 1960′s would take us over to Charlotte Avenue for all services. Charlotte Avenue was one of the most popular Churches of Christ to attend by Lipscomb students at the time, as was the Hillsboro Church of Christ, where Dr. Baxter was the Minister. The Charlotte Avenue bus from Lipscomb (as well as the Hillsboro bus) was always full, and that was partially due to the dedication of Dean Mack Wayne Craig at the time. Sad for me to hear of this news. I had hoped to again one day visit the Church there again. I know there will be a new church building, but this particular site and building do contain very special memories for many, many people.

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