Municipal Public Works Garage Industrial District (former) – Nashville TN


The former Municipal Public Works Garage Industrial District is comprised of six single-story, brick buildings built c. 1940. The garages are on the west bank of the Cumberland River, in Nashville. Buildings 1 through 4 run lengthwise northwest to southeast while Buildings 5 and 6 run northeast to southwest. 

This New Deal project was funded by the Public Works Administration (PWA), which was absorbed into the Federal Works Administration (FWA) in 1939. The Works Progress (or Projects) Administration (WPA) provided labor for the project.

The Municipal Public Works Garage Industrial District was constructed to house various municipal public works departments, such as Engineering; Water Works; Streets, Sewers, and Sidewalks; Street Cleaning; Street Sprinkling and Sanitation; and the Municipal Garage. Buses, police cars, and other city vehicles were serviced here. Commonly mistaken locally as “trolley barns,” the construction of these buildings postdates trolley use in Nashville (the city’s trolley barns were located elsewhere).

All six buildings are constructed of red, load-bearing brick and have concrete slab foundations. Each building measures approximately twenty feet high and features a curved, bow truss roof hidden behind a stepped parapet wall on the façade. The buildings share a running brick bond pattern and many other architectural details, linking the buildings like an industrial park. Each building features slightly recessed panels that are the height and width of a typical garage door opening. Whether or not a garage door is actually present, this feature gives the buildings their industrial garage style. Windows and doors vary slightly from building to building due to later alterations and additions, but most feature a metal six-light pivot window set within a multi-light fixed window.

The garage district is situated in a former industrial part of the city that has been rezoned for residential and commercial use.  Overall, the district retains its architectural and historic integrity.  These buildings have recently been rehabilitated as mixed-use space, including creative and flexible office space and a restaurant.

The six garages are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, along with a stone wall that predates and surrounds the district.

Source notes

Nashville Metropolitan Government Archives

Tennessee State Library and Archives

Burran, James A. “The WPA in Nashville, 1935-1943.” Tennessee Historical Quarterly. Fall 1975.

“City, County Relief Must Care for 2,500.” Nashville Banner. August 8, 1938.

Doyle, Don H. Nashville Since the 1920s. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1985.

“Job Situation In City Shows Improvement.” Nashville Banner.  August 8, 1938.

Minton, John Dean. The New Deal in Tennessee 1932-1938. New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1979.

Nashville City Directories, 1914-1957.

Public Administration Service, University of Chicago. “Section VII: Public Works.” Organization and Administration of the Government of Nashville, Tennessee. Report prepared for The Citizen’s Committee on Audit. Chicago: Public Administration Service, 1943.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps, 1914 – 1951 and 1914-1957. Accessed June 2010.

Spinney, Robert G. “Municipal Government in Nashville, Tennessee, 1938-1951: World War II and the Growth of the Public Sector.” The Journal of Southern History, Vol. 61/1(Feb 1995):77-112).

“Spry Foot Forward.” The Nashville Tennessean. July 23, 1938.

“Street, Sewer Program Here to Begin Soon.” The Nashville Tennessean. December 27, 1938.

West, Carroll Van. Tennessee’s New Deal Landscape: A Guidebook. Knoxville: The University of Tennessee Press, 2001.

Project originally submitted by Katie Randall on January 11, 2015.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

33 Peabody Street
Nashville, TN 37210

Coordinates: 36.158384, -86.767780

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