Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tearing Down the United Methodist Publishing House Building is Doing the City a Favor

Posted By on Tue, Oct 1, 2013 at 5:30 AM

Historic Nashville has released their annual Nashville Nine, "a list of the city’s historic properties endangered by demolition, neglect or development."

The United Methodist Publishing House building — that thing that looks like a giant air conditioning unit at the corner of Demonbreun and 8th — is on the list. Why, god? Why? Will we not have cardboard boxes in the future that we can point to and say to young people, "Here is what everything from the 50s looked like. Because we love you, we tore it all down and put up some stuff that doesn't suck?" And even if we are, for some reason, not going to have cardboard boxes in the future, couldn't we just have Metro Archives put a cardboard box in its collection so that school children in the future can visit it and see what 1950s buildings looked like? Isn't that the most efficient use of space?

Even Historic Nashville's press release is full of the truth, that mid-century modern buildings, such as the United Methodist publishing house are "considered by many to be cold and unappealing." That's not even the worst part. They go on to say, "this style is representative of the optimism that followed the end of World War II for a better and brighter America."

Holy crap! If you ever wondered why Baby Boomers spend so much time and money in therapy, that right there is the answer. Their parents came home from the war and built a bunch of cold, unappealing boxes for them to live and work in and insisted it meant happiness.

I'm willing to concede that the Ben West Library, which is another mid-century modern building on the list has a slight sense of whimsy to it, is something that, if you're maybe a little stoned or drunk, seems charming. And maybe we need a building that screams "I was an 1950s FBI agent!" for some reason, so I'm not opposed to trying to find something to do with the Cordell Hull building. But I have to draw the line at saving the United Methodist Publishing House. It's ugly. It's without charm. It looks like a place happiness goes to die. It probably is a place happiness goes to die.

Let's not pretend otherwise.

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