RIP trail west

A rare shot of 219 Broadway while actually occupied.

So, downtown Nashville lost another building last night. At midnight last night, despite not having a demolition permit (the fee for which is nominal) (they had a permit), demolition commenced on the property last occupied by Trail West (later, as the letters of the sign progressively burnt out, “Trai Wet”, “Tr Wt” and finally “W”, before sputtering out entirely. Having spent a lot of time downtown, I get it: this building was iconic, and a relic of the old Nashville (the old Nashville for us, anyway. it existed for decades before then). But before we get out our pitchforks, folks, let’s consider the facts, at least as I know them:

  • It was on the National Register of Historic Places, yes, as part of that historic block, however (as I understand it), this property was excluded as part of the deal.
  • It’s been empty since 2008. Trail West was forced to move after it was infested by bees.
  • Since then, the only real occupants have been assorted charming occupants on the corner.
    • It was a dump, and a relatively unremarkable one, at that. Ask anyone that’s toured the property.
    • The only reason we love it is because of a great sign, and a brilliant choice of teal green for the brick wall.
    • Trail West itself, incidentally, is still in business.
    • It will, undoubtedly, become home to yet another bro country hive of villainy. It’s sad that some old properties cannot be saved, but let’s not forget that Nashville’s urban core has been near-abandoned for decades. The resurgence of growth will, inevitably, involve the demolition of properties we’ve come to think of as ubiquitous — perhaps some necessarily, some not. The charm of these buildings remaining as-is comes at the cost of their complete lack of use. Using them (read: rehabbing them), however, often costs substantial amounts of money. Sometimes it’s worth it (see ACME feed house as great example), and sometimes it’s not. I like to use a good litmus test for whether or not I get upset about urban renewal/change: 1) Did I pony up money to buy the property? 2) does my outrage change anything? Lament the disappearance of an aesthetic icon, sure, but save your outrage for something that matters.