History of Nashville's Silver Dollar Saloon, also known as the V.E Schwab Building
I've been intrigued by this anachronistic red brick Victorian building since I first photographed it several years ago (my photograph is shown above). Located on the corner of Broadway and 2nd Avenue, at the start of Nashville's famous honky tonk row, the building now houses a gift shop for the Hard Rock Cafe.
The Silver Dollar Saloon was managed by V. E. Schwab, who was also a partner in the George A. Dickel Whisky Company (1), and the builder of the notorious Climax Saloon (2) in 1887, in Nashville's disreputable "Men's Quarter." The Climax is worthy of it's own posting, but you can get a great summary here. The Silver Dollar Saloon was designed by architect Julian Zwicker and built in 1893. It was located outside the Men's Quarter, catering to riverboat crews from the nearby Cumberland River wharf. The Dickel company operated saloons to create demand for its product.
A group of men in front of the Silver Dollar Saloon in the V. E. Schwab Building on Broadway and 2nd Avenue in Nashville. (Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archive)
The historic photograph above, circa 1900, shows the 2nd Avenue side of the V.E. Schwab Building, home of the Silver Dollar Saloon. Note the distinctive decorative terra cotta tile work around the corner door at far right. The signs say, "Lodging 25 cents," "Hot lunch 9 to 2 - 10 cents," and include ads for Gerst Beer and Maryland Club Old Rye.
Below is a modern Google Street View image of this same scene.
Google Street View image of 100 Broadway, former home of the Silver Dollar Saloon. Note the same decorative tile work around the door.
This view from after 1900 shows the adjoining structure on the left that housed a barber shop. That building has long since been demolished. On the right, we see horse-drawn carriages on Broadway, in the direction of the river.
This view of the 2nd Avenue side of building offers a better view of the barber shop and printing company. Now only the narrow, three story structure of the V.E, Schwab Building still stands. (Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archive)
Blueprint of the saloon, circa 1907. (Courtesy Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County) (3).
(Courtesy Tennessee State Library and Archive)
Prohibition came to Nashville in 1910, after which the building served as various businesses, including a bookstore, before falling into poor condition in the 1970s. It was rescued and repaired, and now serves as the gift shop for the Hard Rock Cafe.
In the printed ad above, we see the Broadway side, with its porthole windows and terra cotta embellishments. For my fine art black and white photograph below, I've chosen to focus on those terra cotta embellishments which are above the corner door.
Prior to the Hard Rock Cafe, the building housed an art gallery space. A 1982 photograph from The Tennessean shows the building under renovation to house the Nashville Artist Guild. See that photograph here.
Fine art photograph of the ornate 1893 architectural details over the door of the Silver Dollar Saloon
- The Nashville Saloon History Tour: Silver Dollar Saloon
- "The Men's Quarter of Downtown Nashville", Philip Thomason, Tennessee Historical Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Spring, 1982), pp. 48
- Metropolitan Archives of Nashville and Davidson County
Historic photographs courtesy of the Tennessee State Library Archives
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