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Mayor Briley Convenes Committee To Study Uses For Historic Morris Memorial Building

3/7/2019
Thomas Mulgrew (615) 862-6461

Today, Mayor David Briley convened an eight-member committee to study potential uses for the Morris Memorial Building, a 65,200-square-foot historic building in the urban core that Metro has the option to purchase from the National Baptist Convention.

“This building has significant historical meaning for our city and for our African-American community, and it could provide rare affordable housing or office space in the urban core,” Briley told the group. “I am counting on this committee to carefully study all of the options and to make recommendations to me, the Minority Caucus, the Council and the community. Together, we will decide if and how we want to proceed.

”Dr. Jerry Young, President of the National Baptist Convention stated that he was encouraged that Mayor Briley has recognized both the historical importance of the Morris Memorial Building and its potential to make a lasting impact on the development of the city.

“This partnership is an example of constructive leadership focused on the goal of providing perpetual recognition to the historic and present contributions of African Americans to Nashville. The National Baptist Convention is excited to usher the Morris Memorial Building into the next phase of its history by providing the citizens of Nashville with another opportunity to explore the highest and best uses for this historic site,” Dr. Young said.

The Morris Memorial Building Study Committee will be chaired by Friendship Baptist Church pastor and former Metro police officer Jimmy Greer. The group also includes:

  • Carol Bucy, Davidson County Historian / Advisory Council, Historic Nashville
  • Angela Crane-Jones, president, Nashville Business Incubation Center
  • David Ewing, attorney and Nashville historian
  • Kaki Friskics-Warren, Metropolitan Housing Trust Fund Commission
  • LeShane Greenhill, CEO and Co-founder of Sagents / Past president of the Nashville Area Junior Chamber of Commerce
  • Rita Mitchell, First Tennessee Bank (retired) / author
  • Dwayne Scott, SRS Constructions / Nashville Black Chamber
  • Linda Wynn, Metro Historical Commission

Ex-Officio

  • Freddie O’Connell, Metro Council District 19
  • Aole Ansari, MDHA board member
  • Ashford Hughes, Mayor’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer and meetings facilitator

The National Baptist Convention approached Metro about buying the building in 2018. The official option period to purchase the building closes on July 12, 2019. The group plans to meet numerous times between then and now, as well as to host a community conversation in the North Nashville area.

The committee will then provide the mayor with a few high-level recommendations for the building’s use. Committee Chair Pastor Greer will present these findings to Mayor Briley and to the Minority Caucus of Metro Council, simultaneously. He will also present them to the full Metro Council and to the community via news release, social media and other methods.

Metro’s Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer Ashford Hughes will staff the committee on behalf of the Mayor’s Office.

“When we have the opportunity to preserve history while also addressing current and future needs in our city, we should pay close attention,” Briley said. “I appreciate the National Baptist Convention’s forward thinking in approaching us about this option, and I thank all committee members for giving their time and talent to this process.

”The Morris Memorial Building is a 65,200-square-foot, five-story building on .447 acres at 330 MLK Boulevard downtown. The land was acquired in 1922 by the National Baptist Convention, the largest African-American faith denomination in the world. The Convention decided to build its publishing house on this land. Designed by prominent African-American architectural firm McKissack & McKissack, the building opened in 1924. It was constructed in the Neoclassical Revival style, with cut limestone facing on the west and south walls and stucco on brick on the others.