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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Post Card Tuesday: Davidson County Public Building and Court House



The 1937 Davidson County Courthouse was the 5th (of 6) to be used in Nashville.

In 1935, the Courthouse of 1857 burned, and the county decided to make the replacement building in the public square the County Courthouse and Nashville City Hall.

A Competition was held to design the new building, and the winning Architects were Emmons H. Woolwine of Nashville and Fredrich C. Hirons of New York with their PWA-influenced Art Deco design. The Cornerstone was placed on Aug. 10, 1936 and was dedicated on Dec. 8, 1937. The building cost $2,000,000 and was the first building in the city with air conditioning. The building is eight stories high and measures 260 feet by 96 feet. The official title of the building was Davidson County Public Building and Court House.

After several decades of use, updates were needed. Starting in 2003, the Courthouse began an extensive renovation. (When I was summoned for jury duty, courts were held in MetroCenter.) For additional space, a newer courthouse was built nearby with similar design themes. Also, the surface parking lot in front of the courthouse was replaced by an underground lot, and a small public park. The park has an observation deck, large lawn, small reflecting pool and picnic tables.

The quality of the Architecture placed the building on the National Register of Historic Places. As a significant Public Works Administration project, it is an example of Government Art Deco. The symbolism and Classical Columns are typical of a public building. The excellent craftsmanship is seen in the decorative work: Bronze castings, terra cotta and carvings. Here's how it looks today from the new public square observation tower, using the most similar view readily possible today which is comparable to the post card's "floating in the air a couple blocks away view":

Davidson Co. Courthouse (old) 2: Observation Deck view

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