A 1936 aerial photograph of South Nashville and the old City Cemetery showing Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ

This week Metro Archives posted to their Facebook page a fine aerial view of the neighborhood north east of the old City Cemetery. It shows the lay of the land in 1936, which is filled with residences in close proximity to each other, to light industry, with sprinkling of local commercial buildings and churches. This photograph captures a moment in time a generation before the encroaching interstate sliced the neighborhood in two, which itself (among other factors) reflected and intensified suburban flight. The object of the photograph was the cemetery as noted on the item itself. This image is from the Walter Williams collection, a fine trove of local photography. And I appreciate seeing the cemetery, but my eye went first to isolate the Howard School complex at 3rd and Lindsley, then with Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ identified, I moved west a block or so, and north a block or so, to locate the former building of the South College Street Church of Christ. In the second image below I lined the street in front of each in green. This photograph is basically oriented facing north. The Lindsley building is directly east of the green line; and South College is west of its green line.

The photograph documents what this neighborhood looked like for much of the first half of the 20th century. This was primary setting for the ministry of the South College Church, led in earnest for forty years by David Lipscomb, and served by a host of evangelists. This neighborhood is the proving ground for the Lipscomb theory of church growth by planting new congregations. All told some 37 congregations came out of South College either directly, or in time by secondary or tertiary ways. To my knowledge all of them were peaceful swarms.

South Nashville, showing City Cemetery and neighborhood. 1936, from Metro Nashville Archives. https://www.nashvillearchives.org/
South Nashville, showing City Cemetery and neighborhood. 1936, from Metro Nashville Archives. Green highlights show location of Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ and former building of the old South College Street Church of Christ. https://www.nashvillearchives.org/
Detail crop. South Nashville, showing City Cemetery and neighborhood. 1936, from Metro Nashville Archives. Green highlights show location of Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ and former building of the old South College Street Church of Christ. https://www.nashvillearchives.org/

Central Congregation, Nashville


Members of the Central church of Christ, Nashville, Tenn., met for the first time on Sunday, October 4. The first meeting was devoted to worship and organization, and was a very significant service because of its simplicity and spirituality. Humility and reverence characterized everything said and done. The Central congregation is meeting for the present in a residence located on the church property. The buildings which will house the activities of the church later are under construction, but will not be available for sixty or ninety days. In the meantime the congregation will continue to meet in the residence building at 143 Fifth Avenue, North. The Central congregation is beginning its meetings at this time, in advance of the completion of its buildings, border “to take heed to itself” and study the all-important subjects of Christian grace and growth. It has planned an extensive program of gospel teaching and preaching, coupled with an equally extensive program of good works. The brethren joining hands and hearts in this work realize that consistent service in the name of Christ requires a high degree of individual Christlike devotion, spirituaI-mindedness, and godliness of character. Hence, the Central congregation is resolved to look very carefully to itself, and is making the most of present opportunities to build itself up in spiritual understanding and grace, whereby it can “offer service well pleasing to God with reverence and awe.” The present congregation will work and pray for the grace to imitate the apostle Paul, who said: “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Its meetings will be planned with this purpose in view. The elders of the Central church of Christ are Dr. J. S. Ward, C. E. W. Dorris, J. E. Acuff, and E. H. Ijams. After a prolonged period of study and prayer, these brethren were chosen with the unanimous approval of the congregation. No doubt their selection will be quite generally approved wherever these brethren are known. Dr. Ward was for more than twenty years associated with David Lipscomb and others in the work of the Nashville Bible School and of David Lipscomb College. Brother Acuff is one of the trustees of Burritt College and is well and favorably known as an elder and preacher in the church of Christ. Brother Dorris has contributed many fine articles to the Gospel Advocate during the many years in which he has preached and lived the truth of Christ. Brother Ijams is a member of the present faculty of David Lipscomb College and an experienced teacher. With these loyal and mature brethren as elders, nothing can be expected of the Central church of Christ but unquestioned loyalty and steadfastness to Christian truth and purpose.  The program of work outlined by the Central congregation ought to appeal to the best aspirations of every Christian. It is located in a field of abundant opportunity.  It will have in the heart of the city an auditorium in which to hold gospel services every day in the week.  Every day except Sunday these services will be broadcast by radio station WDAD. The congregation is also preparing to systematically seek the sick and the needy and minister to their necessities. It is also planning to “go teach” the erring and the unsaved and try to bring them to a knowledge of the truth. Daily Bible lessons will be given to all high-school or college students who will attend them in the afternoon after school. Several able Christian teachers have agreed to give night lessons to those who want to prepare for some definite form of Christian service or leadership. In addition to all this, the congregation will try to give constant heed to the language of the great commission, which says: “Go teach all nations.” In pursuance of this purpose, the congregation has already taken over in full or in part the support of these brethren laboring in mission fields: C. M. Sitman, Jr., Amite, La.; J. P. Sanders, Jackson, Miss.; W. O. Norton, Hartselle, Ala.; Hugh E. Garrett, Columbus, Ga.; C. W. Landers, Pensacola, Fla.; T. H. Burton, Union, S. C.; J. W. Shepherd, Richmond, Va.; Roy Vaughn, Mississippi; J. A. Hines, Fort Collins, Col.; John Sherriff, South Africa; W. Percy Pittman, North India. In short, the Central church of Christ proposes to emphasize “doing” the word, as well as “hearing” it, and to make the doing humble, godly, and in every respect consistent with all the teaching of the New Testament. The congregation hopes to show its faith by its work. Brother A. M. Burton and the other brethren associated with him in undertaking this work have set these high standards of achievement with the clear understanding that they can be accomplished, not with material means or with organization, but only through the personal devotion, sacrifice, and zeal of men and women whose minds and hearts are truly converted to the gospel of Christ.  Sustained effort to serve God with works of faith and righteousness must depend on the God-given strength which comes to the sincere, spiritual-minded followers of Christ. Therefore, the members of the Central church of Christ ask the prayers of brethren everywhere to the end that they may, individually and collectively, offer fruitful service to God with reverence and humility. The elders will be glad to have encouragement and counsel from any fellow worker in the vineyard of the Lord.  Address any of them at 143 Fifth Avenue, North, Nashville, Tenn.  It is perhaps well for brethren at large to remember that the Central congregation at present has very limited quarters in which to work and worship. Much of the work which it plans to do must be deferred until its buildings and equipment are in place. It cannot at present invite the general public to its services. However, reports of progress will be given out from time to time, and announcements made as rapidly as preparations are made to take up the different phases of the work. In the meantime the Central congregation very earnestly requests the prayers of all God’s people.

Gospel Advocate, October 8, 1925, p. 976

—Thanks to Hugh Fulford for emailing me this item in digital form.  I have in my files a color postcard of the buildings which housed Central Church (not the building you see now at 145 5th Avenue, North).  One of my favorite antique-store postcard finds, above is scan of it.  These buildings were purchased from the Timothy family (owners of a downtown Nashville dry goods firm) by Andrew Mizell Burton et al. in the summer of 1925.  Both had lots behind the buildings on which, in late fall of 1925 as the article indicates, an auditorium was constructed.  When ground for it was broken the congregation was having around 150 per Sunday.  It could seat 1000 and by the end of the decade it would be full most weeks.  Until the construction was complete they met in the parlor of the mansion…I believe…on the right.  The postcard shows the auditorium behind the row house on the left…it is the one-story addition running straight back to the alley.  In December 1928 the ‘Administration Building’ of five stories plus basement was completed with Nicholas Brodie Hardeman preaching in a special dedication meeting.  It is/was art-deco and was built by famed local firm Foster & Creighton.  In about 1987 the facade was bricked and new windows installed.  Across Commerce Street towards Broadway (and almost directly across the street from the Ryman Auditorium) stood an old hotel/boarding house which Burton purchased for use as the “Girls’ Home.”  Boys lived in dormitory space above the administration building; girls in the Girls’ Home.  Many romances developed as you would imagine.  I have spoken to dozens of former residents, some now dead, of these homes and they remember it was a very special time of their lives.The photograph below appeared in Burton’s 1932 book Gleanings.

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.

DLC Honors Veteran Preachers, 1954


Here is another installment in my Dorris research.  From the February 25, 1954 Gospel Advocate, page 157, the men pictured are the “honor guests” of the 13th Annual Fellowship Dinner at the Lipscomb Lectures.  Each having preached more than forty years, the combined number of years preached, Willard says, is near 1300 years.  As one I know is wont to say…that calls for a lot of patience from all concerned.


Of the 26 men honored, 14 are from Nashville. Seven more are from Middle Tennessee.  Again we see the familiar faces of the elder statesmen from years past at these Fellowship Dinners.  Seated on the far left is George Bethurum, one-time classmate of Hall Laurie Calhoun at the College of the Bible and the man who was very likely behind Calhoun’s move to Nashville in 1926-ish.  Front-row-center is Price Billingsley, who published a paper–the Gospel Advance–and who took over Dorris’ Tidings of Joy in the summer of 1920.   To Dorris’ right is O. C. Lambert,  whom Dorris took to task a decade earlier concerning his (Lambert’s) stand with Cled and Foy Wallace on the ‘War Question.’  Lambert was in cahoots with the Wallace War Baby and CEWD was none to pleased about it.  There is much, much more to be done on that one.  And, I’m still sorting through what is happening even as this photo was snapped between Dorris and Benton Cordell Goodpasture, who appears in this august company for the first time.  He is standing behind Dorris’ left shoulder…close enough to shake hands but I think they are growing farther apart by the day.

As I remarked in an earlier post in this series, look carefully, ponder deeply the faces you see, and consider those who were absent.

South College Street Christian Church

A kind and generous friend passed along to me a sketch of South Nashville Christian Church, also known as South College Street Christian Church, South Nashville Church of Christ (all interchangeably) and finally, after 1920, Lindsley Avenue Church of Christ.


David Lipscomb is an elder here from the beginning until his death in 1917.  He preached to three or four ladies (some sources say 3-4 ladies “and a little boy”) in 1857.  It took 30 years for the congregation to grow to the point where they could afford a building.  So, Lipscomb was involved in one way or other with this church from 1857 to 1917. 

This photo is a digital photograph I took of a printout from a microfilm reader.  All things considered, it is an excellent drawing.  I’d not been able to find a picture of this building.  So I am very grateful to see it.

It is from the Nashville Daily American, Monday morning, November 14, 1887.

I will work on transcribing the article…but for the mean time I just had to post this picture.

I might add C.E.W. Dorris was a member at this congregation, under Lipscomb’s pastoral oversight, from 1892 to probably 1896 or 1897.  James A. Allen, who would be editor of the Gospel Advocate, grew up at South College Street and later at Green Street (planted by So. College).  Allen also preached for the congregation after they moved to Lindsley Avenue.  James A. Harding preached often in meetings.  The early opening and closing exercises of the Nashville Bible School were conducted in this building.  David Lipscomb’s funeral was conducted in this building.

And the list could go on.  I’ll return to this congregation and its story as it has become one of my many research interests.