Archive for December, 2010
An unusual December snow in Nashville this week, and now freezing rain on the way. Bundle up and drive carefully!
Lightning in the Encore, 2008
An oldie but a goodie. The night this was taken, I was peering out of my window (I did this a lot when I lived downtown) at the storms blowing through. Suddenly a couple of fire engines came tearing down the streets headed for the Encore building, which was newly completed but not open yet. They flanked each side of the building and started doing their thing — including raising the ladders on each truck to the side of the building. I wasn’t sure if there was a bomb threat or a hostage situation, or a localized fire on an upper floor or what.
Naturally, I grabbed my camera. Because that’s what photographers do during tragedies, apparently: they set up a tripod and kick back. So I had my camera all setup and I was just taking longer exposures to see if I could capture anything — and it ended up being lightning reflected in the front moving in behind me. Goes to show that you never really know what you’re gonna get.
I found out later that this was actually a test drill. Any time that there’s a new high-rise building, the fire department deploys their trucks and raises the ladders to make sure they know how high the ladders will reach from various points around the building. Pretty cool.
Melrose Billiards, 2010 — a few days after the flood.
Yesterday I posted about the Melrose Theatre. Located in the same building, Melrose Billiards (sometimes called Chandler’s) sits in the basement, a few doors down. In the face of the more serious destruction of the flooding in Nashville this year, it was hard to get too upset about the smaller casualties — but they were sad, nonetheless.
Melrose Billiards was among them — it took a pretty bad soaking in the floods, with water nearly up to the ceiling (I’d guess around 7-9 feet, judging from the floodline). This is surprising, because it’s nowhere near any major body of water. There is a small drainage creek behind it that terminates north in the river, but I suspect the flooding mostly came from runoff on the hill, and the bar just had the misfortune of being in an unusually deep basement. But I digress. Fortunately, due to the owners’ determination and a grassroots community effort, the bar was quickly drained, dried and renovated and is back in operation. (and by “renovated”, I mean “looks pretty much the same”, i.e. 40 years old and vaguely smelly).
The bar keeps a relatively low profile, with nothing but the above door/sign indicating there’s anything present. Although it can get packed on the weekends, it still mostly serves regulars and other assorted locals. Melrose Billiards was opened in 1969 by the Chandler brothers (hence the alternate name and the sign above the bar), who also went on to open or buy many other Nashville establishments including the Sportsmans’ Grilles, and the Gersthaus. This is the reason you can still find $3 Gerst on tap — a nice perk. While I do love the bar, it has its
downsides quaint charms: foremost among them, a nearly impenetrable haze of cigarette smoke that probably dates to 1969 itself. You don’t go to this bar wearing anything you don’t plan on immediately washing or drycleaning. What can you do? The bar is a throwback to a different era in more ways than one. Check it out sometime. It’s a Nashville establishment worth protecting and patronizing.
Nashville at dusk. A late-night post for all you night-owls, while I sip some tea and relax to Bill Evans before bed.
Melrose Theatre, Nashville, TN.
Built in 1942, the Melrose theatre was one of three grand theatres in Nashville that shared a similar design — the other two being the Belle Meade Theatre and the Inglewood Theatre on Gallatin. Sadly, the Inglewood theatre was closed in 1977 and demolished sometime thereafter — a shuttered drugstore now occupies the spot. The Belle Meade theatre fared much better, operating as a theatre well into the late ’80s before Bookstar turned it into a book store, with minimal remodeling. Sadly, in a move so crass and lacking in historical sensitivity that it could only happen in Nashville, the Belle Meade Theatre was recently gutted and turned into a grocery store by Tony Giarratana, leaving (I believe) only the facade and the projector room intact.
For its part, the Melrose Theatre has been remodeled a few times, but still remains relatively intact as a theatre (at least on the outside). I recently saw it all lit up for an event recently, and it was quite spectacular — sadly, I didn’t have a camera with me (weird, I know). This picture from 1984 (when the theatre was still in operation) will give you some idea of what it looked like. I don’t know the state of the interior, but perhaps the Melrose can be revived as a theatre some day.