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Art Deco Nashville

We take a look at the Art Deco that thrives in Nashville—and its place in the city’s history.

Written By:  David Ewing

Photographers:  The Tennessean & Supplied

The term “Art Deco” comes from the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs held in 1925 in Paris — most popular in Nashville, and many other cities, mainly between 1925 and 1940. The architecture is defined by long, vertical lines that point upward to the sky, geometric shapes, long wavy lines, as well as floral, industrial, and sunburst patterns. Nashville’s Art Deco-inspired buildings and interiors are bright, creative, and unique structures that combine function and creativity. All are worth visiting to admire their lasting contribution to our city.

Frist Center for the Visual Arts; former Downtown Post Office

Built in 1934 as a WPA-funded post office for Nashville, this building has been transformed into one of the leading art institutions in America. The vision of Dr. Thomas Frist, Jr., and his family took the old post office and turned it into the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. The lobby of the old post office is the most interesting Art Deco space in Nashville, and it sets the tone for the internationally recognized art on display in the galleries inside.

The art within the Frist Center begins in the lobby, with Nashville-based Tuck-Hinton Architects’ masterful restoration of the heavily used post office lobby. The lobby features Art Deco light fixtures, industrial motifs on cast aluminum grillwork and doors, colored marble, and stone on the floor and walls. One of the Frist’s logos was created from the original Art Deco design in the lobby.

— By David Ewing, LEED AP BD+C
; CEO of Nashville History on Tour

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