This may at first just appear to be a picture of an old brick building, found on 8th Ave South just south of the railroad bridge, a building which until recently housed the Downtown Antique Mall. Look closer though, and a faded set of signs emerges. Damage on the taller part of the building has erased part of the original sign, and banners, one for the departed antique mall, one advertising the building for lease, hide much of the long thin signs down the length of the building. (There’s a clip from Google Street View below that doesn’t have the leasing sign.) They advertise a firm that was called G.P. Rose & Co. According to the 1919 edition of Grain and Farm Service Centers, Vol 43 (scroll down to the bottom of page 1143, the linked page) G.P Rose & Co. was founded in 1884, the successor to Smith & Rose. The company featured direct access to the L & N and the N.C. & St. Louis Railroads (there are still tracks behind the building, and rail traffic still passes by regularly) and was powered by three 35 h.p G.E. engines (in 1919, anyway). There were two buildings at the time that could hold a total of 95 thousand bushels and handled wheat, oats rye, field seeds, and cowpeas. As the signs on the building say twice, “A Feed for Every Breed.” It’s quite conceivable the sign goes back to 1884. If so, it would have been originally painted 136 years ago. It’s also possible the sign is somewhat younger or was substantially altered at some point – being sure will take more research. But it’s very likely to be one of the oldest painted signs in Nashville, if not the very oldest. Nashville was a much smaller place back then, as can be seen from the 1889 G.M. Hopkins Atlas of Nashville, and there aren’t many candidates left. For instance, you can see a few faded letters high up on 423 Broadway, present home of the downtown version of Mellow Mushroom, which seem to read “—WELL BROS & Co” that may be from the late 19th century, but that’s about it for Lower Broad and its cross streets. The 1889 Hopkins Atlas also explicitly shows G.P Rose, though back then 8th Ave was called Spruce Street (see the excerpt below). I also found on eBay a collection notice signed by Mr. G.P. Rose himself, dated April 29th, 1885 (which I bought!) – you’ll find it at the bottom. It would be really nice if this sign was spruced up. That will likely depend on the building’s next tenant, assuming it’s not torn down.
Located at 606 Eighth Ave South. It’s possible to park for a while in the space just south of the building, between it and Norris Architecture next door. Otherwise, you’ll need to park on the other side of 8th Ave.
February 24, 2020 at 7:44 pm
Very cool! I’ve been researching this company and couldn’t find anything readily available! I purchased a burlap dog food bag online and was looking for other artifacts from the company! If you ever have any inclination to part with the letter, I would love to speak with you! I love local history (especially business related). Loved the article!
November 3, 2020 at 10:51 pm
I am trying to find out more about this building, specifically the company and man who owned it. I believe the family designed and built the house I live in back in the late 1920s or 30s. Would love artifacts (for example a feed sack), photos or more information on the G. P. Rose family. Thanks!
November 16, 2020 at 6:19 pm
I found an article from 1944 on Newspapers.com that shows that the older G.P. Rose building was severely damaged in a massive fire. The structure was rebuilt in 1945-46. That explains why the facade has a mid-century look but the building appears on earlier Sanborns. The building that is there now is from the 1940s.
November 16, 2020 at 6:50 pm
Interesting. The signs could be younger than I thought. Depends on if it was a complete demolition.
November 16, 2020 at 7:07 pm
G. P. Rose doesn’t seem to have occupied the building after the rebuilding, so perhaps part of that front wall are 19th c.