It’s no secret that Nashville has been on a lightning-speed trajectory toward claiming the “It City” status for the past decade or so. As such, a tremendous amount of change has taken place in a very short amount of time — growth not only in population, but also in construction. Significant changes have been made to Nashville’s historic landscape in order to accommodate that growth — there’s no shortage of new high-rise condos or “tall skinny” houses being squeezed onto tiny lots, all built to accommodate our ever-growing population, which some estimate is currently in excess of 75 new residents per day.
Along the way, the Nashville that lifelong residents have always known has gotten lost in the shuffle, much of its slow, Southern charm being edged out by rising residential and commercial costs. Entire neighborhoods have been made over by developers who are eager to tear down the old, historic homes and buildings and replace them with newer, sleeker homes and businesses.
When Dan Hodges, owner and general manager of Dan Hodges Music, LLC, and his wife and business co-owner, Susan, were in need of more office space, they were faced with a choice: move off of Music Row as many music businesses have been forced to do, or get creative, and in so doing, commit to the historic preservation of the Nashville they know and love.
“Music Row — this area — is where I’ve had my entire career,” says Dan. “I love the old home aspect of this part of town and want to preserve that, not only just with our company, but also with our family,” which explains why they decided to buy an historic home on Music Row in which they live and handle the day-to-day operations of their business.
“It’s symbolic to our clients, too, that we’re not going anywhere … we’re all in,” adds Dan.
Perhaps the bigger message that the Hodges are sending by way of example is the importance of preserving the Music Row that put Nashville on the map. The one that used to be lined with record labels and publishing houses, where writers would come and stay a while, write a few hits and enjoy some conversation and coffee. Yet because the music industry is struggling with what can only be described as an identity crisis — smaller salaries, fewer staff writing deals and a digital revolution among some of its biggest battles — many companies are being forced to move off the Row. “There’s no question that it’s more difficult to go and do that 6 p.m. hang that everyone used to do because there’s no parking, and now you’ve got to pay $10 just to park to see a showcase,” Dan says, “but it’s still a great business. You just have to find creative ways to do business and cut costs and find different avenues for revenue streams.”
And the Hodges have done just that.
Their passion for preservation — both of historic homes and historic Music Row — fueled their decision to get creative and move their family and business all under one roof.
“We both recognize that you’re only as good as the decisions that you make, and all those decisions are based on what you know, which all comes from your history,” explains Dan. “We meet people from LA every night who are moving here, and it’s because they want what we have. Well if you want that to remain the standard, you have to preserve it and foster it. It’s respect for what built you.”
With that guiding principle — and the help of good friend and realtor Scott Lynch — the Hodges found the perfect historic home on Music Row that allows them to both live and work under one roof. The house they purchased, which was built in 1887 and measures 4,600 square feet, has so many endearing qualities and characteristics only found in historic homes — pocket doors, transom windows, original hardwoods and a sprawling front porch just to name a few.
“We meet people from LA every night who are moving here, and it’s because they want what we have. Well if you want that to remain the standard, you have to preserve it and foster it. It’s respect for what built you.” — Dan Hodges, CEO of Dan Hodges Music
“I love old houses, and I’ve always loved the beautiful homes on Music Row,” shares Dan. “I love the transom windows above the doors and the hardwoods that are 100 years old.”
“I like the character of it,” adds Susan. “It’s not perfect, and neither are we.”
It’s not just what’s within the walls that holds historic significance and a storied past, though. The land surrounding the Hodges’ home is steeped in timeworn tales as well. “There are pear trees all around us,” shares Susan. “There was a woman who had an orchard out back and made jam and sold it to people who came through back when this was a dirt road.”
It’s people like the Hodges, who learn about and share those compelling stories that keep Nashville’s rich history alive.
“I think you have lot of young professionals who are all trying to find their path, but there’s not a lot of upward opportunity right now,” explains Dan. “So the community incorporating them in some of the historical preservation, that’s how you make them feel like they play a part in it and in its continued history.”
For lifelong Nashvillians — or those who simply have an affinity for historic homes — there’s a bit of hope in knowing that there are still people fighting for not only historic Nashville’s preservation efforts, but for the preservation of the Music Row that has turned humble songwriters into household names.
“Whenever we move from here or sell this home, it will still be this,” says Dan. “As long as we’re here, it will still be a family home on a family street in the middle of downtown, where people can hang out on the front porch and maybe write a song or two.”
Interested in learning more about the new DHM space? Click here to contact Dan Hodges Music.
Photography by Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography