Bush-Herbert Building

174 3rd. Ave., N., Nashville, Tennessee


Overview Looking Northeast

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in February 2020




"The building at 174 Third Avenue, North was the home of Bush Brick Company and the related enterprise T. L. Herbert and Sons from 1911 to 1961. The brick business was begun in 1867 by W. G. Bush, a brick mason whose Confederate Army service earned him the honorary title 'Major', though the rank was never conferred. After the war, 'Major' Bush recognized the potential of a brick business in the rebuilding of the devastated region. Rather than making bricks at the building site, the common practice, Bush operated claypits and kilns at a single location and put the entire works under a roof so brick making could carry on any weather. His business was a success.

"In 1879, Bush brought into the firm his son-in-law, T. L. Herbert, who became president on Bush's retirement in 1900. In 1911, following the purchase of the property at 174 Third Avenue, Herbert formed a new company, T. L. Herbert and Sons, to supply other materials related to brick masonry and the two companies shared the building. Over the years the Herbert family businesses expanded to include ready-mix concrete, gravel, and the operation of river dredges and barges in addition to Bush Brick and T. L. Herbert. Though Bush Brick, T. L. Herbert and Sons, and the other family enterprises were consolidated into Herbert Materials, Inc., in 1979, the concern has remained in family hands and is headed by fourth generation descendants of 'Major' Bush.

"Because these businesses—Bush Brick especially—were so successful, they occupy a unique position in the history of Nashville's built enviroment. Bush and Herbert supplied great quantities of the materials which make up many of Nashville's significant buildings. For example, the original Maxwell House Hotel (now destroyed), the Ryman Auditorium, Downtown Presbyterian Church, the original Vanderbilt University campus buildings, and Tulip Street Methodist Church all contain Bush brick. The building itself, with its brick display wall, is architecturally unique in Nashville and is the oldest surviving building associated with this 113-year-old local business."

Quotation from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form prepared by David H. Paine, Architectural Historian of the Metropolitan Historical Commission of Nashville, January 1981. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 25, 1982
Reference number
Areas of significance
Architecture; Commerce
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
B - Person; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Period of significance
Significant year
ca. 1911

Update Log 

  • September 17, 2020: New photo from Bill Eichelberger
  • March 23, 2020: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • March 23, 2020: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated status and added photos