When I mentioned to friends that I was writing a post on Ruby, most asked, “What’s that?” You know that cool building on Wedgewood/Blakemore between Fannie Mae Dees Park and Harris Hillman School? That’s Ruby.
Formerly the Primitive Baptist Church, this once sacred space still has a sense of soul, and we can only imagine the tales that could be told. In its newly renovated state, it lives on as one of the hippest, coolest event spaces in town. Its modern exterior is visually appealing, and once inside, you’ll marvel at the use of light and space, as Ruby offers a sense of openness with her towering ceiling and blank slate.
When I sat down to interview Dan Cook, the man behind the building, I realized Dan is a lot of things rolled into one – part visionary, part preservationist, a neighborhood advocate and a bull-in-the-china-shop kind of guy. Together with his wife Brenda, they wanted to put their stamp on Nashville, and their renovation of Ruby does just that.
“So why’d you take on this project?” I asked Dan. “Lots of reasons,” was his reply, and he took me through the journey that led him to this place. It celebrates the past by reclaiming an old building and creates something better; it energizes the adjoining park and school with its sense of presence and beauty, and it joins the neighbors together to make where they live more communal and fun.
If you think about it, there are often thousands of reasons why something won’t work, but one reason why it will—vision. This project is a prime example. Looking beyond the obstacles – a dilapidated church in a prime neighborhood with a ton of zoning restrictions – Dan and Brenda saw potential way beyond typical high density office space or multi-family dwelling reclamations.
Ruby now welcomes a host of events from weddings to corporate meetings, with a standing church service held every Sunday morning, and Harris Hillman School benefits from its new neighbor by providing parking for nightly events. Dan and Brenda consider Ruby the hub of the wheel when it comes to the Hillsboro Village neighborhood. We couldn’t agree more.
And as an aside, I had my own special moment of being dazzled by this building when Liza and I were honored by Nashville Post magazine as one of Nashville’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2012. Yep, the party was held here and I loved seeing how this space worked for such an event. I tell you what, I walked away wanting to throw a party as Ruby stole the show that night.
A special thanks to Donald Yeager Photography for the generous use of his images.
For more information about Ruby, click here.