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Historical Markers - Religious Sites

Assumption Church

Nashville’s second oldest Catholic church, dedicated Aug. 14, 1859, its rectory on right was added in 1874, school on left in 1879. The present altar, windows, and steeple were added later. The Germantown neighborhood grew around it; sermons were often in German until World War I. The parish has produced many nuns and priests including Archbishop John Floersh and Cardinal Stritch.

Location: 1227 7th Avenue No.

Erected: 1981

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Belmont Church and Koinonia Coffeehouse

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Koinonia (Greek for “fellowship”) Coffeehouse opened in 1973 with artists such as Dogwood, Fireworks and Brown Bannister boldly sharing their faith through contemporary music. It became a destination for “Jesus Music” artists nationwide as young talent such as Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith shared their first songs. The neighboring Belmont Church helped with overflow crowds, co-hosting early CCM recording artists such as Honeytree, Randy Matthews, Don Francisco and more.

Sponsored by Capital Christian Music Group, Curb|Word Entertainment and Provident Labelgroup

Location: 1000 16th Ave S (number 202)

Erected 2019

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Black Churches of Capitol Hill

1. First Baptist Church, Capitol Hill (1848) 2. Gay Street Christian Church (1859) 3. Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church (1887) 4. St. Andrews Presbyterian Church (1898) 5. St. John A.M.E. Church (1863) 6. Spruce Street Baptist Church (1848). These six churches stood within 1/6 mile of this marker.

These six Black churches stood in the center of Nashville’s prosperous Black business district before the Capitol Hill Redevelopment Program. Several began before the Civil War as “missions” or Sunday School classes of earlier white churches. All boasted memberships of over 1,000 by 1910 and claimed the city’s most prominent Black business and professional families. All but one moved in the 1950s, and all continue to serve the Nashville community.

Location: James Robertson Parkway and Charlotte Pike

Erected: 1987

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Cane Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church

Cane Ridge Cumberland Presbyterian Church, built in 1859, replaced a log building which occupied land donated by Edwin Austin & Thomas Boaz in 1826. One of the best known pastors was Hugh Bone Hill, who also preached at the Jerusalem Church in Rutherford County. Isaac Johnson, a Revolutionary War soldier, died 1839 and is buried in the church cemetery.

Location: Antioch, 13411 Old Hickory Boulevard

Erected: 1982

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Centenary Methodist Church

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Rev. William Gower built the first Gower’s Chapel on his farm in 1805. A larger chapel, erected in 1850 on Gower land, also served as the local schoolhouse. On Oct. 5, 1884, the newly named Centenary Methodist Church was dedicated by Bishop Holland McTyeire. In 1922, the church relocated again. The new building was destroyed by a tornado on March 11, 1923, but was rebuilt within the year. Centenary United Methodist Church continues to worship at the same location on Gower Rd.

Location: 6811 Gower Rd. (number 178)

Erected 2019

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Centenary Methodist Institute

Women from the Methodist Training School founded Warioto Settlement House in 1908. Renamed Centenary Methodist Institute, CMI moved to this location by 1921.  CMI worked with rural migrant families in the North Nashville area called Kalb Hollow, providing a health care clinic and instruction in domestic skills and childcare. Children and teens participated in sports and clubs, directed for many years by Tom Page. CMI merged with Bethlehem Centers of Nashville in 1970.

Location: 614 Monroe St. (number 159)

Erected 2017

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Christ Church Cathedral

Organized in 1829, Christ Church was Nashville’s first Episcopal parish. The present Victorian Gothic church, designed by Francis Hatch Kimball of New York, opened for services on Dec. 16, 1894; the tower, by local architect Russell E. Hart., was added in 1947. Designated the Cathedral for the diocese of Tennessee at the 1995 Diocesan Convention.

Location: 900 Broadway

Erected: 1995

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Clark Memorial United Methodist Church

Founded in South Nashville in 1865, Clark Memorial moved to North Nashville in 1936 and to this location in 1945. The church was central to the Civil Rights movement in Nashville, with activist James M. Lawson conducting classes here in 1959 on non-violent protests. Lawson was a founding member of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), whose Nashville members included students at American Baptist College, Fisk Univ., Tenn. A&I (now Tenn. State) and Vanderbilt Univ.

In Honor of Matthew Walker Jr.

Location: 1014 14th Ave N (number 213)

Erected 2020

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Contemporary Christian Music

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Religious music was integral to Nashville’s identity as “Music City,” from early music publishing houses to the international impact of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Key artists nurtured locally in the 1970s eventually crossed over to mainstream fans and by the 1990s, Contemporary Christian and Gospel Music outsold jazz and classical. Nashville also became the capital of this new genre, serving as home to the Gospel Music Association, major labels and a growing creative community.

Sponsored by Capitol Christian Music Group, Curb|Word Entertainment and Provident Labelgroup

Location: 1000 16th Ave S (number 202)

Erected 2019

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Disciples of Christ Historical Society

Library and archives of the 19th c. American religious unity movement which became: the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); Christian Churches; and Churches of Christ. Located here, 1958, in the Thomas W. Phillips Memorial. Architects: Hoffman & Crumpton; Hart, Freeland & Roberts. Sculptor: Puryear Mims. Stained glass artist: Gus Baker.

Location: 1101 19th Avenue So.

Erected: 1980

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First Baptist Church

Organized in 1820, this is the church’s third downtown location. The elaborate Gothic tower is all that remains of the Matthews & Thompson building that stood at this location from 1886 to 1967. The Baptist Sunday School Board, now one of the world’s largest publishers of religious materials, was organized here in 1891. Edwin Keeble Associates designed the new building, which opened in 1970.

Donated by First Baptist Church

Location: First Baptist Church, 108 Seventh Ave. South

Erected: 2007

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First Baptist Church East Nashville

Founded in 1866 under the direction of Rev. Randall B. Vandavall, First Baptist Church East Nashville built. This Classical Revival building between 1928 and 1931, during the height of Rev. W.S. Ellington’s career. Nashville artist Francis Euphemia Thompson painted the distinctive baptistry murals in the 1950s and 1960s. At that time the church served as a frequent meeting place for the African-American community during the Civil Rights Movement.

Donated by FBC East Nashville

Location: 601 Main Street

Erected: 2007

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Holy Trinity Episcopal Church

This building, renowned for its pure Gothic architecture and harmony of proportions, was designed by Wills & Dudley, of New York, in a style suggesting an English village church. The cornerstone was laid May 7, 1852, by Bishop James Otey. The church was used as a powder magazine by the Union Army for several months during the Civil War.

Location: 615 6th Avenue S.

Erected: 1968

Note: The exact date in May 1852 of the laying of the cornerstone is still disputed. Three dates are possible May 6, May 7, and May 29.

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Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

The Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church was established on Nov. 4, 1917, at 208 6th Ave S., the former site of Wallace Univ. School. Greek immigrants began moving to Nashville in the 1880s in search of better economic opportunities. In 1905 a benevolent society was established—the Greek-American Mutual Help Association—which served as a religious and cultural center and raised funds for the purchase of the 6th Ave. property. In 1986, the church moved to 4905 Franklin Pike.

Location: corner of Demonbreun St. and 6th Ave S (number 160)

Erected 2017

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Jewish Community Center Bombing

At 8:07 p.m. on Sunday, March 16, 1958 a bomb exploded at the Jewish Community Center at 3500 West End Avenue. The JCC, which was located here from 1952-84, often hosted community meetings aimed at desegregating Nashville’s schools and communities based on the Jewish values of equality and justice for all. Rabbi William Silverman received a call from the “Confederate Underground” claiming responsibility for the bombing.  The JCC opened one day later to demonstrate its resilience.

Location: 3510 West End Ave. (entrance to 440 Greenway) (number 199)

Erected 2019

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Mill Creek Baptist Church and Graveyard

Mill Creek Baptist Church, mother church of Southern Baptists in Davidson County, occupied two meeting houses at this site from 1797 until the early 20th century. Here, in 1833, Baptists formed the first Tennessee Baptist Convention. The church’s graveyard includes the graves of many early settlers of both African and European descent.

Location: Glenrose Avenue at Dodge Drive

Erected: 1995

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Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church

In 1871, District 6 school commissioners John Briley, Benjiah Gray and Jason Austin bought one acre of land from James Thompson for an African American school. In 1873, African American members of the Benevolent Society of Olive Branch No. 38 established Olive Branch Cemetery. Olive Branch Missionary Baptist Church (est. 1875) used the one-room school for services until the church was built. The church was re-built in 1971. Due to its condition, the school was demolished c. 1980.

Location: 5988 Cane Ridge Rd. (number 209)

Erected 2019

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Scarritt College for Christian Workers

Established in Kansas City in 1892 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South and moved to Nashville in 1924, Scarritt trained laity in Christian education, music, and missions until it closed in 1988. Much of the Collegiate Gothic campus architecture was designed by Nashville architect Henry C. Hibbs. The campus was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. (side 1)

A leader in racial integration in the South, Scarritt integrated its student population in 1952. The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke in Wightman Chapel to the Conference on Christian Faith and Human Relations on April 25, 1957. From its beginning, Scarritt had an international student population that reflected its commitment to a global understanding of racial justice and equality. Its mission and vision continue today through the Scarritt-Bennett Center. (side 2)

Donated by The Scarritt Alumni Association

Location:  1008 19th Ave N (number 145)

Erected 2012

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St. Patrick Catholic Church

Erected in 1890 and named for Ireland’s patron saint, this Second Empire style church was built to serve South Nashville’s growing Irish Catholic population. Until 1954, the Sisters of Mercy taught a grade school here. Since the 1890s, the Irish Travelers, a unique clan of American nomads, have come here periodically for weddings and funerals.

Location: 1219 Second Avenue South

Erected: 1993

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Vine Street Temple

Nashville’s Jewish community began in the 1840s. Many early families were immigrants fleeing oppression in Germany, Russia, and Poland. Completed in 1876, the Vine Street Temple, with nine Byzantine domes was Nashville’s first synagogue, for 80 years a symbol of the city’s strong Jewish presence. In 1955, the Reform congregation moved to West Nashville where it and other Jewish congregations continue today.

Location: Commerce Street and 7th Avenue No.

Erected: 1990

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