National Register of Historical Places;
Metro Historical Commission
A local resident with a passion for creating community has plans to rehab a long vacant, historic East Nashville building that served as a firehouse for more than 40 years.
Karen Goodlow, an interior designer and owner of Grounds 2 Give coffee, took ownership this week of the former Gallatin Road Fire Hall Engine No. 18 at 1220 Gallatin Ave. from Wal-Mart. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Goodlow plans to create "affordable workspaces" for small and startup businesses and artists, along with an architectural salvage showroom open to the public. The 3,166-square-foot building also will serve as a retail space for Goodlow to sell Grounds 2 Give coffee, which donates a portion of its sales to provide basic needs for low income Nashville residents.
The building will be called The Station.
"It's a beautiful old piece of architecture and history. ... I think it's just been an eyesore for so many people, so I think people are going to be excited," Goodlow said.
Goodlow and her team — a group of women that includes an electrical engineer, a builder and an architect — are already making improvements to the site. A group gathered Wednesday evening to pick up trash that littered the property.
The 1930s brick building fronts Gallatin Avenue at the end of the parking lot for the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market. It served as a firehouse until 1989. The Metro Historical Commission designated it a historic structure in 2006.
Goodlow's purchase brings new life to the building that more recently was supposed to serve as a hub for East Nashville community arts and after-school programs via the nonprofit North Edgefield Organized Neighborhoods (NEON).
In 2006, Wal-Mart agreed to sign the deed to the firehouse over to NEON, but the hub project was slow to move forward and the condition of the fire hall deteriorated. The building sunk into further disrepair following a fire in 2011, and over the years it became a makeshift shelter for the homeless.
Wal-Mart and NEON then fought in court for ownership rights to the property, and the court ruled in Wal-Mart's favor in December 2013.
Goodlow, who has a passion for unique architecture and historic buildings, said she always took notice of the old firehouse when she would drive down Gallatin Avenue. She said she contacted Wal-Mart last year to inquire about the property before she submitted an official proposal.
Goodlow also hopes to host events in the space, such as art shows and classes.
"One of the things I want to see in this building is I want it to be a place that breaks down social and economic barriers," Goodlow said.
The building needs significant repairs to bring it up to code, including replacing the partially-collapsed roof. Goodlow anticipates the restoration work will take several months.
Tim Walker, the Metro Historic Zoning Commission's executive director, said the building was one of five fire halls designed by the architectural firm C.K. Colley and Sons and built by the city between 1930 and 1936.
"It's a great public building that speaks to a time of growth in our city, and we're really excited to see it renovated and opened back up to the community," Walker said.