Cordell Hull building faces closure, uncertain future

Monday, January 28, 2013 at 6:12pm
0128 Hull building.png
Cordell Hull Building


The future of one of downtown Nashville’s most well known government buildings is uncertain, the result of budgetary concerns.

Gov. Bill Haslam Monday night was set to give his State of the State address, in which he will present an overview of his proposed budget. The budget is expected to address expenses related to the Cordell Hull Building, a limestone-clad modernist structure that sits in the shadows of the Tennessee State Capitol at 425 Fifth Ave. N.

Haslam's budget calls for relocating current occupants, paying off outstanding debt and demolishing the building at a cost of nearly $25 million. State officials say it would cost $45 million to perform the required maintenance in the building, making it less expensive to rip it down than to fix it up, although there's no decision yet as to whether the state would sell the property.

The building, which was constructed in 1952-53, sits next to the art deco John Sevier State Office Building, whose fate is also unknown. However, state employees might soon be vacating the Hull building (click on the attachment below to view an image of Hull, on left, courtesy of Google Maps) and word is circulating among the building's office workers that a razing is one option on the table. 

Tim Walker, director of the Metro Historical Commission, said demolishing the Hull building would be a major architectural loss. The building teams with the aforementioned Sevier building and, on the west side of the State Capitol, the state library/archives and Supreme Court buildings. The quartet of limestone structures frames the capitol.

“It was built at a time when government buildings were seen as a source of civic pride,” said Tim Walker, director of the Metro Historical Commission. “It’s a really nice building. We don’t build buildings like that now.”

The Hull building houses several state agencies, including the Department of Health and the Department of Children’s Services.


9 Comments on this post:

By: pswindle on 1/28/13 at 10:45

Let's not waste money on school vouchers and save this building.

By: Loner on 1/29/13 at 7:46

Taxpayer-funded Health, Education and Welfare services in TN have been viciously denigrated and demonized by the right-wingers for wonder then that this beautiful structure has been allowed to fall into severe disrepair, as it houses the Department of Health and the Department of Children’s Services, as well as other often-despised government agencies.

After they tear down this edifice, they'll probably build one of those tax-exempt, born-again, mega-churches on the site....taking another giant step backwards, in the Coonskin Cap state.

By: Loner on 1/29/13 at 9:02

The CH Building houses despised government agencies, ergo, it was allowed to slide into its present condition. It was once a symbol of civic it is a symbol of fear & failure.

Something has drastically changed in the mindset of the average Tennessean since the fifties, when CH was built.

Apparently, government was generally viewed as a force for good back then; but today, government is looked upon with fear and loathing by most Tennesseans. Why is that?

Could it be that forced desegregation in the 50's and 60's resulted in this widespread rejection of governmental authority and this generalized loss of faith in government itself?

Or is it the orchestrated fear that government will take away one's firearms?

Or is it the idea that government is responsible for the deaths of millions of unborn babies?

Maybe, it's the idea that the government is promoting the GLBT agenda?

Perhaps, it is all of the above.

By: Rocket99 on 1/29/13 at 9:14

The main rumor going around about CH is, Mr. Haslam has worked out a deal with a friend of the family to sell them this building for mere pennies on the dollar so they can erect high end condos and make millions in the process.

Everyone needs to watch very closely what's going on with this property.

By: PillowTalk4 on 1/29/13 at 10:18

When I was a young boy living in East Nashville in the early and mid 70's my mother worked in the CH in Employment Security. I remember riding with my dad on some evenings to pick her up from work. We would approach the James Robertson side of the Municiple Auditorim, turn on 4th, go one block over to Charlotte Pike then to 5th to go down to the CH. The street was always busy with state employees getting off from work and everyone seemed so friendly. Even as a kid, I loved the CH and other buildings framing the State Capitol. I think it would be sad for the CH to be torn down when so many other cities have found ways to revitalize such buildings into other uses. Seems to me if the CH can't be saved as a government office building then it could be turned over to a developer to create office suites, apartments and condos. But, another option might be to create some type of museum in its place. Doesn't the State of TN need a bigger museum location than the one located on the bottom of the Polk building? If not, why not consider a different type of museum/art gallery. Nashville doesn't have a natural history museum that I'm aware of. Hasn't there been talk about an African American History museum and possibly a Gospel Music Museum? It just seems too easy to say bulldoze it because because it's cheaper. That building like so many others in Nashviille have played an important role in the city and is part of the cities visual culture. It's an iconic building. It's great infill for the area and it has character that can't be replicated because of how it is iconic to the state capitol as well.

By: localboy on 1/30/13 at 1:52

When was the last time you were in the building, Loner?
I have to confess it's been a few years for me, but the last time I visited I noticed some wear and tear (nothing too out of the ordinary, though). I spoke with a friend who works for the state and who frequently went into the building and asked him if a major refurb was in the works; he said that workers there had mentioned many nagging issues. Evidentaly tt's a beautiful facade with some not-so-lovely plumbing items.

By: joe41 on 1/31/13 at 9:42

Let's build a new Tennessee State Museum on that wonderful property. Make it a source of civic pride again.

By: BigPapa on 1/31/13 at 2:04

I'd be much more happy if Metro decided to tear down the old Municipal Auditorium. I'm sure Haslam will sell to some one very well connected, to a builder thats well connected, through a broker thats well connected, to planner, designer...
A lot of insiders will make a lot of coin. The only loser will be the taxpayers that underwrite the project.

By: Ask01 on 2/3/13 at 7:27

I wonder when the State Capitol building will be put up for sale?

I believe the elected employees within it's walls have all been purchased, but the building itself surely still belongs to the people.

For the moment at least.