There’s some debate whether to call the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood, whose borders are defined by Houston Street to the north, Wedgewood Avenue to the south, Eighth Avenue South to the west and Fourth Avenue South/Nolensville Pike to the east, “We-Ho” (for Wedgewood Houston) or “So-Ho” (a nod to New York’s famed SoHo area). But whatever is chosen, the treasures in Wedgewood Houston (or We-Ho or So-Ho …) abound.
The neighborhood is like a blank slate with huge potential to be one of Nashville’s most sought-after urban areas. Why? There are several reasons: 1) location with its proximity to downtown, the Gulch, 12South, Belmont and access to the interstate; 2) the great old buildings with potential for lofts, cool work spaces and interesting restaurants; 3) a ton of green space so that the city and area can work with developers to create a neighborhood-friendly environment; 4) And finally, Greer Stadium, the former home of the Nashville Sounds baseball team, which is enjoying its fantastic new home at First Tennessee Park in Germantown. The land on which Greer sits is a gorgeous expanse with more than 25 acres. Imagine the possibilities!
My first venture into Wedgewood Houston about a year ago was to see David Lusk’s new gallery, which is located on Hagan Street. Having been a fan of his gallery in Memphis for a long time, I literally Googled the location to figure out where it was and thought, “This is risky, very risky.”
Since then, I am eating some crow. David Lusk Gallery opened in March 2014, and the area continues to blossom. I say this because there was a multitude of incredible finds and lots going on in the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood long before David Lusk arrived; I just didn’t know about them. Now, the neighborhood is on an upward trajectory with so many new businesses opening and so, so much potential.
Here is a quick tour by category:
ARTISTS AND GALLERIES
It’s appropriate to start with this category, since so many artists have studios in the area. The artist community is rich and makes its home in many of the historic structures like the May Hosiery Mill. To coincide with Nashville Art Walk, the artists and galleries of We-Ho open their doors every month to hundreds—and sometimes thousands—of art patrons. These are some of the most established artists in Nashville. Check out this site for more info: Art and Music at Wedgewood-Houston
David Lusk has been a force in Memphis for years. His expertise in assisting collectors, young and old, in making smart purchases is renowned. David also represents the estates of Carroll Cloar and Mary Sims, two of the South’s most revered artists. If you want to invest in works under $1,000, the Price is Right Sale going on now and winding up at the end of the month.
Founded in 1994 by Janice Zeitlin, Zeitgeist is one of Nashville’s premier art galleries for contemporary and new artists. With its wide, expansive walls, Zeitgeist represents artists such as photographer Caroline Allison, Will Berry and Lain York. Zeitgeist moved to Hagan Street after being located in Hillsboro Village for 15 years.
Located directly across from Zeitgeist, Hunter + Gatherer designs and creates handmade furniture and decor. By using concepts of our earliest ancestors, they hunt unique and forgotten things, and then source the raw materials that will determine the design.
A recent exhibit of Vivian Maier’s work caught my eye, as her story of being an unknown photographer whose work has been compared to Diane Arbus and Walker Evans is now well publicized. Founded by art dealer Susan Sherrick and collector Paul Gilbert, the gallery opened its doors in 2014 with featured works by Marcel Dzama and Vivian Maier.
For the last 20 years, Julia Martin has worked with some of Nashville’s notable art galleries. Yet, in the fall of 2013, the calling to open her own gallery presented itself. Julia’s stable cadre of artists has grown to reach all the way to San Francisco. It’s worth a visit to see Michael McConnell, the current exhibiting artist. His DOMESTICITY work uses animals and household objects to explore normative gender roles. It throws a delightful and magical spin into the shifting boundaries around everyday home life.
Chestnut Street in Nashville has been a mecca for artists for some time. What I didn’t know was how many work in the May Hosiery Building. When you walk the halls, the creativity oozes from the walls. Most artists are represented by area galleries, but on occasion, they will open their studios for a peek inside.
Here are some that you need on your radar screen.
EAT & DRINK
My trip to Gabby’s was lively, but then I am sure it’s that way all the time. Doug Havron, the owner, is one fun-loving guy who clearly is livin’ the dream. If you remember Hap Townes, then you’ll know where to find Gabby’s.
Located right next to David Lusk, Dozen already has a steady and loyal clientele. I could see why when I saw the food coming out of the kitchen. There are salads with farro, fresh herbs, lemon garlic, fresh green beans and sandwiches of smoked trout, lemon, herbs and fennel on a baguette.
Owner Claire Meneely began by selling her delicacies at local farmers markets, then took the leap to We-Ho, the land of leprechauns and good fortune. It paid off. Way to go, Claire!
Located on Bransford Avenue, Santa’s Pub is the ultimate dive bar. Always in the Christmas spirit, Santa’s has cold beer starting at $2 and karaoke every night starting at 7 p.m. (9 p.m. on Sundays) Bring your cash, though. Plastic’s not welcome!
The first time I tried to stop by Clawson’s Pub & Deli, I was waylaid by a Vape event. The parking lot was bustling and smoke was swirling. Rather than muscle through for a deli sandwich, I decided to come back another day. Clawson’s puts out some yummy sandwiches and touts its “awesome sauce.” If you looking for adventurous, try their PB&J with bacon, strawberry jelly and mint on wheat bread. As far as delis go, Clawson’s is reasonably priced and absolutely delicious.
If you’ve hit the Nashville Flea Market recently, you will notice that the parking lot of Smokin Thighs is packed. It’s located on Wedgewood and professes to have Nashville’s largest selection of moonshine. Indeed, they put their money where their mouth is with a happy hour that runs from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Their food truck has been popular for a long time, so it’s great to see that they’ve invested in bricks and mortar.
This intimate 24 seat restaurant has made a splash in Nashville’s ever-growing culinary scene, offering a unique dining experience. Parties of one to four people can choose from a curated multi-course, a-la carte menu, while parties of 6 or more are offered a decadent pre-fixed menu. Bastion also has an incredible bar which serves up some innovative cocktails with quality spirits.
If you want to see preservation at its best, head over to Houston Station. Built in 1885, it is one of Nashville’s most inspiring event spaces with its exquisite masonry and incredible acoustics. Whether it’s a wedding or company party, Houston Station continues to be a favorite of StyleBlueprint.
This is a magical place and is for anyone who wants to create art in a collaborative space. If you’re a beginner, don’t hold back! There is a welcoming community waiting for you. The studio is fully equipped with woodworking facilities, a printmaking studio, a darkroom and digital printing.
Founded in 1909, the May Hosiery Mill was owned and operated first by Jacob May (1861-1946), a German Jewish immigrant, and then by his son. Daniel May (1898-1982). Daniel, a prominent industrialist and community leader who was instrumental in integrating Nashville’s schools in the 1950s, also served as one of the city’s first Metro Council members. In the 1930s, the May family sponsored about 200 Jewish refugees and found them work in the United States.
This exquisite home was built in the late 1800s and was owned by the Merritt family. The property surrounding it is equally alluring, with a huge, expansive yard. The neighbors tell us that a member of the Kings of Leon has purchased the property for a cool $1.3 million. Yet another reason for music lovers and fans to flock to the Wedgewood Houston area.
A bit of history: Herschel Greer was a Dickson County resident and avid baseball fan. He organized the Vols, a corporation dedicated to keeping baseball in Nashville. Herschel Greer Stadium opened in 1978, and in the first game, the Nashville Sounds defeated the Savannah Braves. The Sounds have since relocated to the beautiful new First Tennessee Park in Germantown, leaving Greer Stadium and its 26 acres as one of the most important pieces of property as Nashville.
The Finery in Wedgewood Houston is Core Development’s latest project. It will encompass 490 residential units with room for flex space and restaurants. Look for two other projects from Core: SIX10 Merritt and 1260 Martin.
Corsair is currently located in Marathon Village but is planning to open in Wedgewood Houston by the end of the summer. Their huge, 11,000-square-foot facility will be a great draw for the area with a tasting room that’s open to the public plus plans for a brandy still next year. They’ll fit right in with the vapesters, guitar folks and artists.
It is truly inspiring to consider the possibilities when you roam around the Wedgewood Houston neighborhood. The vibe from everyone I talked to was, “let’s get this right.” It’s a great chance for Nashville to shine, bringing together the stakeholders of Wedgewood Houston, both neighbors and developers, to create a new landmark for Nashville.