Morris Memorial Building

Also known as: Sunday School Publishing Board
330 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, Tennessee

Neo-Classic building constructed between 1924 and 1926

Photos 

West Face

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in February 2020

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Street View 

Description 

DESCRIPTION

"The Morris Memorial Building is a large steel and masonry four-story structure[sic] located at Charlotte and Fourth Avenues in downtown Nashville. The building is Neo-Classic in design and was constructed between 1924 and 1926. The first story features a large entrance on both Charlotte and Third Avenues. These entrances feature sidelights and transoms and the original metal canopy[sic] are still in place. Above the canopy [sic]are large rounded arch windows with keystones in the arching. The first story also displays fixed casement windows separated by Doric pilasters. Above the first story is a cornice with modillion blocks, metopes and guttae. On the upper floors are paired one-over-one sash windows. At the-roofline is a frieze of garlands and wreaths, a denticulated cornice and balustrade. The interior has not been significantly altered and still displays its original details. In the first floor lobby is marble wainscoting, Doric pilasters, and a cornice with classical detailing. In the ceiling of the lobby are three stained glass windows. The interior is designed with a central light well and offices spaced around the open central area. On the upper floors are individual offices with the original marble wainscoting and frame and glass doors. Few changes have occurred to the interior of the building."

SIGNIFICANCE

The Morris Memorial Building is.one of the finest designs of McKissack and McKissack from the 1920s. The building was designed in the Neo-Classic style with a sheathing of limestone. It was constructed between 1924 and 1926 by the National Baptist Convention which publishes religious materials for black Baptist churches. Money to construct the building was raised from congregations throughout the nation and it was finished in 1926. Upon completion the building housed the offices of the National Baptist Convention. Other black businesses moved into the building after its completion including the offices of McKissack and McKissack which tontinue[sic] to operate in the building. Since the early 1960s most black offices and businesses have moved from this area of downtown to other areas of the city. The Morris Memorial Building is the only structure still standing which is associated with black businesses in the downtown area.

Quotation from the Tennessee Thematic Resource Nomination Survey Form prepared by Philip Thomason, Architectural Historian of Thomason and Associates, August 1984. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

Also, from the website of the Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated:

"The Sunday School Publishing Board of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Incorporated was instituted in September of 1915 after several debates over the direction of the National Baptist Publishing Board. Under the leadership of Reverend E. C. Morris, who served as president from 1894-1922, the publishing board was one of the first black-owned publishing companies in Nashville, Tennessee, and the South...The building, which was named after the founder, E. C. Morris, was also the site where slave traders gathered to discuss the buying and selling of slaves. The redesigned Morris Memorial Building opened on October 19, 1925, and was among the most modern and best-equipped publishing houses in Tennessee."

National Register information 

Status
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 2, 1985
Reference number
85000046
Architectural style
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Classical Revival
Areas of significance
Ethnic Heritage - Black; Architecture
Level of significance
Local
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Building
Historic function
Organizational
Current function
Organizational
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
1924; 1926

Update Log 

  • March 25, 2020: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • March 25, 2020: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added description and added photos
  • February 11, 2020: New Street View added by Michael Miller

Sources 

  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • J.R. Manning - Lugnuts969 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • National Register database - Reference number 85000046