Historic Nashville Inc. Announces Two New Easement Properties

We are excited to announce two new agreements under our façade easements program! HNI’s façade easements are a legal preservation tool that protects the exterior nature of significant historic properties and prevents inappropriate exterior alterations or development. Because these agreements are filed with the deed, they are enforced in perpetuity, even through ownership changes.

Downtown Nashville’s Castner-Knott Building consists of two, five-story buildings located on Church Street. The building at 618 Church Street was completed in 1906 and designed by architect M.T. McArdle; 616 Church Street was completed in 1911. The buildings were first connected in 1933 at two upper floors when these levels were leased by Castner-Knott from Armstrong’s, who had recently purchased the building from B.H. Stief. This additional space was required to keep up with the needs of a successful, growing department store. In 1958-1959, architects Marr and Holman designed renovations which saw the buildings connected at all levels, and a new entry was created at the southwest corner of the property.

The original transom windows at storefronts along Church Street had previously been covered by a remodeling and were again covered by polished granite panels as part of the 1958 renovation. The 1950s renovations, including the granite storefront, corner entry, and interior modifications, were designed in response to major changes in the retail business in Nashville at that time. In order to keep up with competition in the central shopping area and suburban retail expansion, Castner-Knott undertook this major modernization program. In August 1999, the Castner-Knott Building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Elm Street Methodist Church is architecturally significant as the only extant example of an Italianate-style church building in Nashville. Despite the loss of its tower in a 1925 fire, the building’s hooded, arched windows and doors and its wide overhangs with classical cornices strongly embody its Italianate style. Formed in 1867 by the combination of two Methodist congregations dating to the 1830s, Elm Street was the second largest Methodist church in Nashville during South Nashville’s heyday, with over 1,200 members.

The new easement on the Castner-Knott Building was placed in December 2023. While HNI’s façade easement for Elm Street Methodist was originally placed in October 1994, it only covered two elevations so was expanded in December and now covers the entire exterior. Ohio-based GBX Group, LLC facilitated both agreements. We couldn’t be more excited to share this news as our easements program continues to grow!

Photo credits: Castner-Knott Building and Elm Street Methodist Church, credit GBX Group, LLC.

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