The House of David Recording Studio Complex is comprised of two adjacent repurposed residential buildings on Nashville’s Music Row that operated as a single music industry complex within the 1974-1989 period of significance. During that period, the complex contained two separate music industry functions -a music recording studio and a music publishing house. Constructed between 1909 and 1913 at 1205-1207 16th Avenue South, the buildings originally served as single-family dwellings and boarding houses. In 1972, both buildings were purchased by David Briggs, an acclaimed musician and recording studio operator on Music Row. Between 1974 and 1976, Briggs converted both buildings into commercial businesses supporting Nashville’s music industry. During the renovation, the buildings were repurposed with a commercial music recording studio, demo music recording studios, tracking and control rooms, music publishing offices, personal living quarters, and service spaces for artists and music industry professionals that included kitchenettes, eating areas and lounges, bathrooms, and music equipment storage closets. The House of David retains a remarkable level of integrity from its 1974-1989 period of significance and is one of the best preserved examples of a repurposed music recording studio in Nashville.
The 1913 brick Colonial Revival-style house located at 1205 16th Avenue South was the home of George B.Moulder, a noted landscape architect, from 1922-1959. Briggs repurposed this house into a commercial music recording studio called “House of David.” The 1909 rusticated concrete block Colonial Revival-style house located at 1207 16th Avenue South was the home of Edward B. Dakin, manager of the Nashville Banner newspaper, from 1912-1940; Briggs converted this building into a music publishing house with offices and studios for recording demo tapes and songwriting. From the street, the buildings retain their original domestic appearance with mature trees and shrubs, landscaped lawns, and narrow driveways. The rear yards feature gravel-covered customer parking, accessed from the rear alley.
The House of David complex includes excellent examples of a Music Recording Studio and Music Publishing House, two property types documented and described in the “Historic Music Industry Resources,Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee” Multiple Property Documentation Form (MPDF) completed in 2016. Both buildings retain a high degree of architectural integrity from the 1974-1989 period of significance for music industry resources.Over the past 42 years, countless hit songs and advertising jingles have been written, produced, arranged, published, and recorded at this location. Due to its affiliation with acclaimed music industry leader David Briggs, the House of David complex is one of the most historically significant music industry businesses on Nashville’s Music Row.
1205 16th Avenue South (DV.00343)
The northern most building of the House of David complex,located at 1205 16th Avenue South (DV.00343),is a residence constructed in 1912-1913 that was repurposed by David Briggs between 1974 and 1976 into a commercial music recording studio. This two-story building is an example of a Colonial Revival-style house with an American Foursquare form and full-width front porch. In the early twentieth century, the Colonial Revival style was the dominant architectural style in the United States, particularly from 1910-1930.
The building features solid red brick walls with 6:1 course common bond, exterior end chimneys, and a hipped roof with flared eaves and is covered with asphalt shingles. Measuring 39 feet wide by 33 feet deep,the rectangular-shaped building is supported by a continuous hewn limestone foundation that forms a full basement. A four-foot-wide concrete sidewalk provides pedestrian access to the street. A narrow paved driveway runs along the north elevation, providing access to a gravel parking area at the rear. A modern stone veneer masonry wall is located along the asphalt service alley. Facing east onto 16th Avenue South, the façade is dominated by the one-story,full-width entrance porch,supported by classical square wood columns and pilasters topped with Ionic capitals. The porch is 34 feet wide and 9 feet deep with a raised precast concrete slab floor on the main level and wood floor on the upper floor, which features a rooftop deck railing with molded spindles and square fluted posts. The second floor was converted from an exposed rooftop deck into a covered porch by David Briggs in the late 1970s with the addition of a full-width canvas awning supported by a metal pole structure and cantilevered metal poles.The canvas material has been replaced about every 10 years.The façade has three entrances, two on the first floor and one on the second floor. These entrances originally served both the main living space and the secondary living space occupied by extended family and long-term boarders. The first floor entrances are nearly identical and exhibit transoms with diamond-shaped glass panes, four-pane glass sidelights, and molded trim. The center entrance has a wood frame glass door and the secondary entrance has a wood paneled door. The center entrance serves the recording studio and was altered by David Briggs for soundproofing and privacy by removing the glass in the sidelights and enclosing them with wood, adding reflective glass, and with a secondary four-inch-wide lead door. The entrance on the south side of the façade is no longer operable due to the construction of an interior master recording tape storage closet. Briggs kept the original entrances in place in order to maintain the architectural integrity of the building and appearance of a historic residence. The alterations were designed to be reversible.The second level entrance, centered on the façade, features French doors surmounted by a transom with diamond-shaped panes. Custom stained glass windows in these doors, installed in the late 1970s by Marlin Green, are comprised of four panes of decorative stained glass that exhibit Arts and Crafts-style patterns and feature two colorful blue peacocks facing one another. The design was likely inspired by similar custom-made stained glass windows that recording artist Elvis Presley installed in 1974 at Graceland (National Register [NR] 11/7/1991; National Historic Landmark [NHL], 3/27/2006) in Memphis, Tennessee. This entrance at the House of David serves the second level private living space. A hipped-roof attic dormer is located in the center of the façade. The façade has large three-part windows on both levels, two on the second level and one on the main level.These original double-hung, one-over-one wood sash windows are surmounted by transoms with 22 to 37 diamond-shaped glass panes and flanked by large two-pane glass sidelights. On the main level, the original window serves the main recording studio and was altered by Briggs in the mid-1970s for soundproofing and privacy with reflective privacy glass on the exterior and a half-inch thick, fixed pane of glass on the interior,effectively creating three layers of glass at this window opening. On the second level, the original north window serves the private living space and the south window serves Brigg’s personal office.The north and south elevations are nearly identical. The south elevation measures 33 feet in length. The north elevation measures 41 feet in length due to an original small, two-story rear wing. Both feature brick chimneys that protrude approximately four inches from the brick walls and decorative arch bricks are present at the base of both chimneys. All original windows on the north and south elevations were enclosed by Briggs in the mid-1970s for soundproofing and privacy. The window openings have been covered with fixed wood shutters in order to maintain the original architectural integrity of the building and the appearance of a historic residence.The west, or rear, elevation features an original two-story rear wing spanning the basement. Located on the north side of the elevation, this wing measures 17 feet wide by 8 feet deep. Like the rest of the house, the wing is constructed of red brick with a hewn stone basement foundation and a hipped roof with flared eaves and covered in asphalt shingles. The wing retains original one-over-one, double-hung wood sash windows on the first and second levels. The upper pane of the window on the main floor was replaced by Briggs in the mid-1970s with custom stained glass created by Marlin Green. The pane of decorative stained glass exhibits a geometric Arts and Crafts-style pattern. The original two-story wood west porch was replaced with a modern single-story wood porch with a small wood stoop and stair serving the second level. Alterations to the west elevation include the removal of a two-story brick chimney at the northwest corner and the addition of vertical board siding at the first and second stories along the southern half of this elevation. The basement has a single-bay garage entrance with a garage door on the south side and a pedestrian entrance in the north wing. Protected by a modern canvas awning supported by metal poles, this entrance serves the basement office and artist lounge. The entrances on the main level and second level retain wood panel doors surmounted by transoms. The transoms feature custom stained glass installed and created by Marlin Green in the mid-1970s. These transoms exhibit Arts and Crafts-style patterns with the transom on the main floor inscribed with “House of David.”
The interior of the original residence was reconfigured in the mid-1970s by Briggs as part of the conversion into the House of David commercial music recording studio. The primary entrance to the studio is now at the rear of the building instead of the front. The basement contains a one-car garage, music equipment storage, and metal spiral staircase on the westside; a studio manager’s office/entrance hall, amp room with studio amplifiers, a small half-bathroom, and artist lounge on the north side. The amp room is located in the rear wing beneath the studio control room and features a small 10-inch by 8-inch glass window in the ceiling for visual communications between staff in the control room and amp room. The artist lounge features built-in cabinets and shelving, a built-in diner style booth table and vinyl chairs, and a small kitchenette. The studio manager’s office shares a narrow entrance hallway. At the east end of the garage is a wood staircase leading to a hidden trap door in the floor of the tracking room above. According to Briggs, this staircase was specially designed for Elvis Presley so he would have a discrete means of entering and exiting the building through the garage; however, Presley died before recording here. Located between the garage and lounge, a metal spiral staircase leads to the entrance hall on the main floor. Besides the garage and amp room, which are unfinished, the rooms feature painted sheetrock walls, drop ceilings, and linoleum and carpeted floors. The main floor contains a commercial music recording studio, two tracking rooms, a control room, small entrance hall, and a metal spiral staircase leading to the second level. The control room is located in the rear wing, originally a kitchen space. The control room was altered by Briggs in the mid-1970s by replacing the original floor structure with a new “floating” hardwood floor and installation of tilted walls and a slanted ceiling. The innovative floating floor has an independent structural system and rubber subfloor that assists in preventing feedback, bass tones, vibrations, and unwanted frequencies. The control room also features electronic mixing equipment, sound speakers, and a 1972 model API mixing console acquired by Briggs in 1992 from the Record One music recording studio in Los Angeles. A tilted glass window is located on the east wall and provides a view into the main recording studio; the tilted glass prevents reflections. Two custom, back-lit stained glass panes are located on the east wall on either side of the tilted glass window; like many others in the house, the stained glass panes were created by Marlin Green.The music recording studio and two tracking rooms were configured from the original front parlors, entrance stair hall, and rear dining room. These spaces were altered by Briggs in the mid-1970s with the installation of acoustical baffling on the walls and ceilings and replacement of the original solid wood sliding doors with wood frame glass sliding doors. Because the artists and musicians were sometimes stationed separately in the studio and adjacent tracking room, the glass sliding doors were necessary so they could see each other while recording. The original wood sliding doors are stored in the basement. The studio and two tracking rooms each feature different ceiling heights as well as combinations of “dead” and “live” walls and ceilings. Dead walls absorb sound while live walls reflect sound. All three rooms have hardwood floors. The recording studio is located in the northeast corner of the building in what was the original main parlor space and features a lowered ceiling covered with burlap cloth. The ceiling is slanted and has recessed lighting. The east wall has been soundproofed with an additional layer of wood wall structure covered with burlap. The south wall is covered with wallpaper and the north wall is comprised of exposed brick. The west wall with a glass window connecting to the control room is covered with burlap. This studio can be accessed from the front entrance porch, although this entrance is now used only as an emergency exit. The studio features Liberace’s Baldwin grand concert piano acquired by Briggs in 1982. The original main staircase has been removed. The recording studio retains the original wood fireplace mantel featuring circular pilasters and a mantel shelf. The original overmantel mirror has been covered with custom “House of David” signage to prevent reflective glare. The window in the north wall was replaced with a custom stained glass pane created in the mid-1970s by Marlin Green, with the glass exhibiting an Arts and Crafts-style pattern. The studio also has electronic sound and recording equipment such as speakers and microphones. The original window opening is covered with a half-inch thick, fixed glass pane and the original door opening has two doors, the original wood frame glass door on the exterior and a four-inch deep lead door covered in burlap cloth on the interior. The small front tracking room in the southeast corner of the building is a repurposed parlor and retains the original wood fireplace mantel and hardwood floors. The ceiling has been lowered and slanted with recessed lighting. The south wall is exposed brick and the windows have been covered with sheetrock. The north,east, and west walls are covered with wallpaper. The original door serving the front porch has been covered with a built-in closet for storing master record tapes. The fireplace mantel features circular pilasters, mantel shelves, and ceramic cream-colored tiles. The overmantel mirror has been covered with custom “House of David” signage. A wooden trap door in the northeast corner of the floor opens to a wood staircase leading to the basement garage. The small rear tracking room in the southwest corner of the building is the repurposed dining room. This studio retains the original hardwood floors and original ceiling height. The mantel has been removed and the windows covered with sheetrock. The west wall is exposed brick. The north wall is covered with wallpaper and contains a wood frame single-pane glass door leading to the entrance hall. The south wall is covered with wallpaper and features built-in shelving for storing microphones and sound equipment. A closet-type enclosure with wallpaper covered walls in the southwest corner contains a metal spiral staircase leading to the second level. The original exterior window in the west wall has been enclosed with vertical boards.The second level contains Briggs’s private office and living space that includes a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, eating area, laundry, and service spaces for heating, ventilating, and air conditioning ( HVAC ) equipment. The south side of the building features a large office served by the spiral staircase. The south wall is exposed brick and features windows with wood framing, two custom back-lit stained glass decorative panes created by Marlin Green, and custom built-in cabinets and shelving constructed by Max T. Barnes, a music industry professional who also worked in carpentry. The fireplace mantels have been removed; however, the original brick fireboxes remain in place. The eastern wall retains the original double -hung, one-over-one wood sash windows surmounted by transoms with diamond-shaped glass panes and flanked by large two-pane glass sidelights. In the northeast corner is the bedroom with an exposed brick wall on the north side. During the 1970s renovation, the northern window was removed and replaced with built-in bookshelves. The eastern wall retains the original double-hung, one-over-one wood sash windows surmounted by transoms with diamond-shaped glass panes and flanked by large two-pane glass sidelights. To the south is a section of the original central hallway, which has been repurposed into a closet and dressing area; this space retains the original
French doors leading to the porch. A small closet with a wood panel door is located in the northwest corner. At the center is a small rectangular bathroom with a bathtub, sink, and commode, as well as two closets with HVAC equipment. In the northwest corner of the second floor is a room serving as a kitchen, eating area, and laundry. This room features built-in custom cabinets and exposed brick walls. The original mantel has been removed from the original fireplace and the north window has been replaced with built-in shelving. The original west window with double-hung, one-over-one wood sash is intact. The original central hall retains a wood door on the west wall leading to an emergency exit with a staircase to the rear porch. A small section of the north wall covering in the hall has been removed to expose the original construction materials. Access to the unfinished attic is located in the hall.
1207 16th Avenue South (DV.00345) The southernmost building of the House of David complex located at 1207 16th Avenue South (DV.00345) is a residence constructed in 1908-1909 that was repurposed by David Briggs between 1974 and 1976 into a music publishing house and demo music recording studios. This one-and-a-half-story building is an example of a Colonial Revival-style house with a multi-gable roof, dormers, and full-width front porch. ExteriorThe building is constructed of rusticated concrete block made to resemble hewn limestone. The building has a steeply-pitched hipped roof with flared eaves and is covered in asphalt shingles. A hipped-roof wing extends from the rear and a gable-roof wing from the north side. Measuring 36 feet wide by 50 feet deep, the rectangular-shaped building features a full-size basement. The house retains its original one-over-one, double -hung wood sash windows with concrete headers and sills throughout. A concrete sidewalk provides pedestrian access to the street. A narrow paved driveway with a rusticated concrete block retaining wall runs along the north elevation, providing access to parking at the rear. Facing east towards the street, the façade is dominated by an original hipped-roof porch supported by four square rusticated concrete block columns and two pilasters. Measuring 26 feet wide and nine feet deep, the hipped-roof porch exhibits a bracketed eave, molded wood trim, and a raised precast concrete floor. The façade also features cut-away corner windows and two hipped-roof attic dormers with bracketed eaves. The primary central entrance features an original wood frame glass door surmounted by a transom, which has been covered with wood. The windows on the façade are protected by metal security bars. The north elevation features a small gable-roof wing measuring 22 feet wide and five feet deep. At the rear is a hipped-roof wing on the south side measuring 26 feet wide and 11 feet deep. Original hipped-roof attic dormers are located on the north and south elevations. An original hipped -roof dormer and modern shed-roof dormer with one-over-one wood sash windows are located on the top level. The rear elevation has been altered with a modern wood deck on the main level with a small wood enclosure, also on the main level.
The interior of the building was altered in the mid-1970s for music publishing offices, demo music recording studios, and spaces for use by songwriters. The basement was renovated for living quarters and a place for songwriting groups to meet. The interior is largely intact with minimal permanent changes on the main level that include dropped ceilings, removal of some fireplace mantels, and installation of paneled wall coverings that have been painted. The interior retains original molded trim, wood paneled doors and metal hardware, a central staircase and balustrade, one-over-one wood sash windows, wainscoting, and a Colonial Revival-style fireplace mantel. The full-size basement features three offices, a workshop, storage rooms, closets, HVAC equipment, and electronic equipment. These rooms are served by a narrow, central hallway. In the 1970s, Briggs converted two rooms in the southeast corner into a demo music recording studio and a control room, separated by a large fixed pane of glass. Two meeting spaces for songwriters were located in the southwest corner. The studio and meeting spaces are currently used as offices and the control room as equipment storage. The room in the northeast corner was converted into a workshop. A small closet and half-bathroom are located at the east end of the central hallway. Two rooms containing HVAC and electronic equipment are located in the center of the building along the north side of the central hallway. A storage room and service entrance are located in the northwest corner. In the 1980s, David Briggs enclosed a small room at the center of the west elevation and added a circular metal spiral staircase to provide access to the main floor. Most of the windows and doors in the basement were replaced during the renovations of the 1970s and 1980s. The main floor retains much of the original floor plan layout with the front parlors and dining room converted into music publishing offices. These offices are separated by a central entrance hall with an open, straight-run staircase located at the center. The staircase retains simple wood banisters and balustrades. Located in the northeast and southeast corners, the original parlors retain original windows and doors, but the fireplace mantels have been removed. The chimney in the southeast room has been removed as well. This floor also features a small half-bathroom off the center hallway. A room at the center of the south elevation was converted into a small office kitchen and eating space with storage closets and a small half-bathroom along the west side. The room in the southwest corner was converted into a music publishing office with built-in cabinets lining the north wall and a closet on the east wall. The room in the northwest corner was likely the original dining room and it too was converted into a music publishing office. This room retains an original ornate wood mantel with Ionic columns, bracketed shelf, overmantel mirror, and white ceramic tiles. At the rear of the building is a large modern deck added in the 1980s with an enclosed room containing storage and a metal spiral staircase leading to the basement.
The second floor features three bedrooms that were converted into music publishing offices. The second floor is accessed by a central stair hall on the west elevation with original balustrades. The stair hall retains an original one-over-one wood sash window. A small full bathroom with a bathtub, sink, and commode is located in the southwest corner and accessed by the stair hall. A large walk-in closet is located at the center of the north elevation. A small space along the west side of the southeast room was converted for use as a small kitchenette. The two oblong-shaped offices at the east side of the building feature three dormers with original one-over-one wood sash windows. These rooms feature painted sheetrock walls and carpeted floors.
Statement of Significance Summary Paragraph
The House of David Recording Studio Complex consists of two adjacent buildings located at 1205 and 1207 16th Avenue South in Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee. Containing two adjacent parcels totaling 0.36 acres, the music recording studio complex is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) under Criterion A for its historical significance in the areas of Performing Arts and Commerce at the local level from 1974 when David Paul Briggs renovated the buildings and began using them as recording studios and publishing offices associated with Nashville’s music industry. A nationally renowned leader in the music industry, Briggs had originally purchased the buildings in 1972. During the 1974-1989 period of significance, as documented in the “Historic Music Industry Resources of Nashville, Tennessee” MPDF completed in 2016, the buildings have been used by artists, singers, musicians, producers, songwriters, and other music industry professionals. Under Criterion C, the buildings are among the best preserved representations of repurposed music industry buildings on Music Row as defined in the MPDF. Briggs adapted the former residences into a state-of-the-art music recording studio and publishing house complex that included living and support spaces for music industry professionals. The buildings maintain a remarkable degree of integrity and meet the registration requirements as defined in the MPDF for the Music Recording Studio and Music Publishing House property types. The buildings meet the requirements of Criteria Consideration G as defined in the MPDF under Criterion A due to their exceptional significance, at the local level, to Nashville’s music industry as well as their association with David Briggs, musicians, singers, songwriters, engineers, and producers that have had extraordinary impacts on music from within the studio spaces. The buildings also meet the requirements of Criteria Consideration G under Criterion C for their exceptional significance, at the local level, as well preserved examples of a music recording studio and music publishing house that served as model examples and set trend for Music Row. In addition, the House of David is significant as an archetypical illustration of musicians and artists using smaller, independent recording studios in order to have more control over their music, as opposed to using nationally known commercial studios that were moving into the city, a pattern that ceased around 1989, the end period for this property. The House of David complex reflects David Briggs’ success at operating an independent commercial recording studio on Music Row and at serving as a leader in Nashville’s music industry.
Narrative Statement of Significance
The House of David Recording Studio Complex is comprised of two adjacent buildings constructed from 1909-1913, which were purchased by David Briggs in 1972 and repurposed into music industry businesses between 1974 and 1976. Over the past 42 years, countless hit songs and advertising jingles have been written, produced, arranged, published, and recorded at this location. Examples include Neil Young who recorded eight songs from his Old Ways album here in 1983 and Clint Black who recorded his first major album Killin’ Time here in 1989. Miller Brewing Company recorded its popular “Miller’s Made The American Way” commercial jingle here in 1985. Notable songs written at the House of David include “God Bless the Boys That Make the Noise on 16th Avenue, which was recorded by Lacy Dalton in 1982. The House of David recording studio complex is considered one of the most historically significant music industry businesses in Nashville. The following is an individual historical overview of the two buildings that comprise the House of David Recording Studio Complex.
1205 16th Avenue South (DV.00343)
The northernmost building located at 1205 16th Avenue South was used as a private residence and rental house between 1913 and 1972 when the current owner, David Paul Briggs (b. 1943) purchased it. From 1913-1962, the two-story residence was primarily a single-family dwelling, which was also occupied by extended family members and long-term boarders. From 1962-1972, the house was used as a multi-unit, short-term rental house. No changes were made to the building from 1972-1974. Between 1974 and 1976, Briggs converted the house into a personal music recording studio, with a private apartment, for use by himself and recording artist Elvis Presley. Since then, the house has been used as an independent commercial music recording studio with three individual studio spaces, control room, tracking room, offices, artist lounge, musical instruments, electronic equipment, support spaces, storage, and a private apartment for occasional use by Briggs and his family members. The House of David is historically significant as the oldest continuously owner-operated music recording studio on Music Row, which is the epicenter of much of the music industry in the U.S.
Historic Overview, 1972-Present
On November 19, 1972, David Paul Briggs purchased the 0.18-acre property and boarding house from Joseph H. Mangum and Paul Byrd, Jr. for $20,000 cash. Briggs was then co-owner with Norbert Putnam of the Quadraphonic “Quad” Sound Studios at 1802-1804 Grand Avenue (DV.00032-00034), a commercial music recording studio located a couple of blocks north. Briggs and Putnam opened Quad Studios in 1969, and it quickly became one of the most successful and sought after commercial music recording studios on Music Row. With renovations costing $155,000, Quad Studios was a complex comprised of two adjoining repurposed houses that contained four individual recording studios. Briggs and Putnam rented studio space primarily to pop and rock artists, since they had found their studio time more profitable and they considered the artists easier to work with than country artists. Until the opening of Quad Studios, Music Row’s national reputation was primarily due to its country music records. With the opening of Quad, Music Row also became known as a preferred recording destination for pop and rock artists. Notable artists who recorded at Quad Sound Studios in the 1970s included Neil Young, Jimmy Buffett, Joan Boaz, Dan Fogelberg, Grand Funk Railroad, Joe Walsh, Dobie Gray, Little River Band, Led Zepplin, Willie Nelson, The Pointer Sisters, The Jackson Five, and The James Gang.
A native of Killen, Alabama, David Briggs is recognized as a top session player, pianist, arranger, studio musician, and publisher in the music industry. He played his first recording session in 1957 at age 14. Since then, he has played piano for a who’s who list of top country, rock, and pop artists throughout the world, with bases of operations in Los Angeles, London, Paris, and Nashville. Briggs’s first session in Muscle Shoals, Alabama was for James Joiner (1928-2006), and it was while working for Joiner’s Tune Records that Briggs met Jerry Carrigan, Norbert Putnam, and Terry Thompson. The four combined to form the original Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section at Rick Hall’s Florence Alabama Music Enterprises (FAME) Recording Studio in Muscle Shoals (NR-nominated, 5/13/2016). In 1961, Briggs played piano on FAME’s first hit, Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On.” Within two years, the hits started coming out of FAME. Backed up by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, recordings included “Steal Away” by Jimmy Hughes,“Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex and “Everybody” by Tommy Roe. In the late 1950s, Briggs also recorded demo sessions at radio broadcast studios in Alabama and Nashville. He was signed as an artist and songwriter by Owen Bradley on Decca Records in 1962 and moved to Nashville in 1964. Briggs also worked with Owen’s brother Harold Bradley and Owen’s son Jerry Bradley. Briggs and Putnam also backed Tommy Roe onstage in 1964 in Washington, D.C., for the first Beatles concert appearance in America, which occurred two days after the Beatles appeared on television’s Ed Sullivan Show. Briggs’s big break came in May 1966 when pianist Floyd Cramer (1933-1997) was late to a session with Elvis Presley (1935-1977) on his How Great Thou Art album and Briggs was asked to play in his place. Briggs would play with Elvis for the next 11 years. In the 1960s, Briggs also signed record deals with Polydor and Monument. He was also a member of the Nashville band “Area Code 615” from 1969-1971 and did a short stint on the road with Joan Baez, after she recorded her 1971 album Blessed Are at Quad Sound Studios. Briggs would later go on the road touring with Elvis from 1975 until a few months before his death on August 16, 1977. Some of Briggs’s credits as a session player, leader, and/or arranger include Alabama, Bob Seger, Dean Martin, Nancy Sinatra, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, B.B. King, Dolly Parton, James Brown, The Crusaders, Joe Cocker, Conway Twitty, Roy Orbison, Ann Margret, Sammy Davis Jr., Tom Jones, Jimmy Buffett, Carl Perkins, Paul Simon, Glen Campbell, Shania Twain, K.T. Oslin, Andy Williams, Kenny Rogers, Al Green, Alice Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Simon & Garfunkel, Perry Como, Led Zeppelin, and The Monkees.
In 1985, Briggs opened a music publishing business with award-winning songwriter Wilbur H. “Will” Jennings (b. 1944) called “Willin’ David Music” and “David N’ Will Music.” Some notable artists they worked with included Steve Winwood (“Higher Love”), Whitney Houston (“Didn’t We Almost Have it All”), Ronnie Milsap, B.B. King, Joe Cocker (“Up Where We Belong”), and Jimmy Buffett. Other songwriters who worked with Briggs in this building included Troy Seals (b. 1938). Briggs also worked as music director for some 50 television specials and award shows for such clients as the Country Music Association (CMA), Country Music Hall of Fame Show, Home Box Office (HBO), and Grand Ole Opry.
Between 1974 and 1976, Briggs repurposed this house into his personal recording studio with the intent to use it solely for himself and Elvis Presley. Briggs converted the main floor into a recording studio with a control room and the second floor into his personal office and apartment. The basement featured a garage, tracking room, and lounge. He had a secret staircase installed in the studio floor that led to the basement garage so that Elvis could come and go with privacy. Unfortunately, Elvis died before he had the opportunity to record in Briggs’s studio. Afterwards, Briggs continued to complete his commercial recording at Quad Studios and personal recording in this building, which he named the “House of David.”Briggs and Putnam
sold Quad Sound Studios in 1979 for one million dollars. As part of the deal, they signed a three-year non-compete clause, which stated they could not operate a commercial music recording studio in Nashville until 1982. As soon as the non-compete clause expired, Putnam opened The Bennett House in an 1875 mansion in Franklin, Tennessee, and Briggs began using his House of David personal recording studio as an independent commercial music recording studio. During the 1974-1979 time period, Briggs worked primarily at Quad Sound Studios, but began recording music at the House of David during the transition. During the 1974-1976 renovation, Briggs hired several local craftsmen who were also involved in the music industry. For example carpenter Max Troy Barnes (b.1962) of Hendersonville, Tennessee, is also an award-winning country music singer, songwriter, studio musician, and producer. Barnes completed much of the carpentry work, including trim, doorways, sound baffling, and new cabinetry. Another music industry leader that worked as a craftsman during the renovation was Marlin Green (b.1945) of Florence, Alabama. Briggs commissioned the creation of several custom stained glass windows, entrance transoms, and artwork from Green, who around 1972 had also created custom stained glass windows for the Quad Sound Studios complex at 1802-1804 Grand Avenue (DV.00032-00034) and 1710 Grand Avenue, later the Little Shop of Morgansongs and Tammy Wynette Enterprises (DV.00021). Although trained as an architect at Auburn University, Green played a big part in the early development of the music industry at Muscle Shoals. He played guitar, sang with Chet Atkins, and co-produced Percy Sledge’s 1966 hit song “When a Man Loves a Woman.” In 1982, Briggs’ first independent commercial client at the House of David recording studio was legendary rock artist Joe Cocker (1944-2014), an English blues rock singer and musician who covered songs by the Beatles and had sung live at Woodstock in 1969. Cocker had recently recorded the duet song “Up Where We Belong” with Jennifer Warnes for the soundtrack of the 1982 film An Officer and a Gentleman, which became a Grammy Award-winning international hit song. In January 1983, Neil Young (b. 1945) recorded eight songs from his Old Ways album at the House of David with Briggs serving as co-producer; the album was commercially released in August 1985. Briggs maintained the same business model at the House of David that he had at Quad Sound Studios and focused on pop and rock artists instead of country artists. Other notable artists who recorded at House of David in the 1980s included Ann Margret, Tom Jones, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Bobby Vinton,Bo Diddley, Willie Nelson, Emmy Lou Harris, and B.B. King. A few country artists have also recorded at House of David including Travis Tritt, George Jones, and Tanya Tucker. Especially noteworthy was Clint Black, who recorded songs for his first major album Killin’ Time here in 1989; the album featured five #1 hits and went triple platinum. Posthumous recordings of Jim Reeves and Elvis Presley have been mixed at the House of David. Hundreds of advertisement jingles have also been recorded at House of David for major commercial clients including Coca-Cola, 7-up, Dr. Pepper, Chevrolet, Ford, Cadillac, Walmart, K-Mart, Vernors Ginger-Ale, McDonalds, Burger King, Alka Seltzer, Close-Up, Coors, Budweiser, Miller Brewing Co. (including the popular 60-second “Miller’s Made The American Way” campaign in 1985), Dolly Madison, Nestles, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Maxwell House Coffee, R.C. Cola, Sears, J.C. Penney, and the NBC theme song. Notable recording artists such as Garth Brooks have recorded jingles here. The House of David Recording Studio features a Baldwin SD-10 concert grand piano once used by Wladziu Valentino Liberace (1919-1987) and Dave Brubeck (1920-2012). As part of the his commercial music enterprise, Baldwin Piano and Briggs - famous for his piano playing skills - agreed in 1982 to an unusual endorsement package that allowed him to keep the piano for use in his recording studio. In 1992, Briggs acquired a 1972 model API Console for the control room once owned by Marvin Gay (1939-1984) and used by Michael Jackson (1958-2009) in the Record One music recording studio located in Los Angeles. Briggs acquired this vintage and period specific console, instead of a modern and new console, as part of his strong desire to maintain the historic integrity of the recording studio at the House of David. Modern recording sessions held at the House of David Recording Studio from 1990-2015 have included Sammy Kershaw, Mark Chesnutt, Billy Joe Shaver, Allison Moorer, and many others, particularly those playing in the Americana music genre. In 1999, Briggs was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. He was also featured in the “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City” exhibit shown at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum from October 27, 2015 through December 31, 2016.
1207 16thAvenue South(DV.00345)
The building located at 1207 16th Avenue South was used as a private residence between 1909 and November 28, 1972, when it was purchased by the current owner, David Paul Briggs, along with his then business partner Harry Warner. In January 1981, David purchased Harry’s half of the property for $25,000. From 1909-1962, the two-story residence was primarily a single-family dwelling, also occupied by extended family members and long-term boarders. From 1962-1972, the house was used as a multi-unit, short-term rental house.
Historic Overview, 1972-Present
1972-1989: Screen Gems/Columbia/EMI Music Publishing House
John Willard Alley and Willard R. Perien sold the house on November 28, 1972 to David Briggs and his business partner Harry Warner. At that time, the building was used as a multi-unit, short-term rental house.In 1973, Briggs and Warner called the building, “Mom’s Boarding House,” operated by Ruby Curl. No renovations to the building took place between 1972 and 1974.
In 1974, Briggs and Warner converted Mom’s Boarding House into offices to lease to professional music publishers. Their first major tenant was Screen Gems-Columbia Music, a branch office of the Los Angeles and New York-based media giant. The Nashville office was managed by Paul Tannen and later Charlie Feldman. Screen Gems had exclusive contracts with music publishers such as House of Gold on Music Row (DV.00480) and songwriters such as Bobby Ashire, Charlie Feldman, Don Goodman, and Fred Bour. Other publishers located here from 1974-1989 included Al Gallico Music, Taylor & Wilson Music, Tay-Son, BMI Music, Glenwood Music, Tannen Music Corp., Beechwood Music Group, and Central Songs Publishing. During the 1972-1989 period of significance, the building was renovated with the addition of demo music recording studios and songwriters’ studios as well as a small basement apartment for short-term use by David’s sons and brother, John Briggs. Many songwriters wrote songs and recorded demos in this building’s demo recording studios before heading next door to the House of David Recording Studio to record their work. In addition, songwriter groups met in the basement. According to David Briggs, one of the most notable songs written in this building was “16th Avenue,” also known as “God Bless the Boys That Make the Noise on 16th Avenue.” Written by Thom Schuyler (b. 1952) and recorded in 1982 by country music artist Lacy J. Dalton (b. 1946), the hit song speaks to the pilgrimage to Nashville that thousands of people make every year following their dreams of becoming a star as well as the music industry centered on Music Row. The song reached number seven on the Billboard country chart and Dalton sang “16th Avenue” at the opening of the 1982 CMA awards telecast.
With a million dollar spirit
And an old flattop guitar
They drive to town with all they own
In a hundred dollar car
‘Cause one time someone told them
About a friend of a friend they know
Who owns, you know, a studio
On 16th Avenue
It looked so uneventful
So quiet and discreet
But a lot of lives were changed
Down on that little one way street
‘Cause they walk away from everything
Just to see a dream come true
So God bless the boys who make the noise
On 16th Avenue
1990-Present: Various Music Businesses
In 1990, Screen Gems relocated to a new building. From 1990-1993, the building was leased to SBK Record Productions and Writers Group. From 1994-2006, the building was home to Peer Music Publishing. In 2006, Peer relocated to its current building at 702 18th Avenue South (DV.00007). Since 2006, the building has been home to a variety of music and entertainment-related businesses, including offices for Documentary Channel TV, Echo Music, CDB Music, and Do All Outdoors.
BACKGROUND HISTORY: 1205 16th Avenue South
The following is a historic overview of the northernmost building at 1205 16th Avenue South, which was converted into a music recording studio in 1974 as part of the House of David complex.
1912-1917: Mary I. Harris
The 0.18-acre parcel was originally designated Lot 5 in the Belmont Land Company’s First Subdivision of Lot No. 23 of the O.B. Hayes Addition. Judge Oliver Bliss Hayes (1783-1858) lived in the 50.5-acre Rokeby estate located at 1908 Grand Avenue (no longer extant), which was initially subdivided in the late nineteenth century. For more information, refer to the “Historic Music Industry Resources of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee” MPDF. The rectangular parcel measures 50 feet along the street front and 153.75-feet to the alley. The parcel is shown as vacant on the 1908 “Atlas of Nashville”On November 27, 1911, the Belmont Land Company sold adjoining Lots 3 and 5 for $3,150 to Theophilus Wilburn “T.W.” Crutcher and Americus Eugene Crutcher, brothers who were local real estate developers. On July 22, 1912, T.W. Crutcher (1855-1924), and his wife Addie F. Pierce (1859-1919), sold their undivided one-half interest in Lot 5 for $1,000 to Eugene Crutcher (1857-1921), who then constructed this two-story Colonial Revival-style house on the lot from 1912-1913. Eugene Crutcher, however, never lived here. His residence was located at 817 North 4th Street in downtown Nashville. From 1913-1917, Eugene Crutcher rented this house to Mary Illinia Girvin Harris (1868-1940), a widow from Tiptonville in Lake County, Tennessee. A native of New Madrid County, Missouri, in 1891 Mary married Henry R. Harris (1868-1905), a native of Obion County, Tennessee. They lived in Tiptonville where Henry owned and operated a general merchandise store. Mary and Henry had one daughter, Mary Linda Harris Morris (1892-1957), and adopted an orphan, Myrtle Yates (b. 1888) from Memphis. After Henry died in 1905, Mary moved to Nashville. From 1907-1912, she lived at 40 Rutledge Street before moving to this house in 1913 where she stayed until 1917. From 1922-1934, she lived in Belle Meade Apartments before returning to Tiptonville where she died in 1940. She is buried in Rose Hill Cemetery in West Tennessee’s Obion County.
1918-1920: Albert L. Lowe
Albert Lee Lowe (1872-1954) rented this house from Eugene Crutcher between 1918 and 1920 with his wife Sarah Lasater Thomas Lowe (1877-1951). A native of Sparta, Tennessee, Albert owned a wholesale fruit company located at 613 3rd Avenue North in downtown Nashville. Albert married Sarah Lasater in Sparta in 1899 and moved to Nashville by 1900 with his family. He and his father were employed in the wholesale produce industry. Albert was living in this house when he registered for the draft in 1918. By 1920, he had moved to 2308 West End Avenue across from Vanderbilt University where he lived with his wife, six children, and 23-year-old African American servant Amos Hunter from Alabama. In 1920, Albert’s children included 19-year-old daughter Anne Elizabeth, 18-year-old son Frederick George, 14-year-old daughter Virginia, 10-year-old son Albert Lee Jr., 8-year-old son Charlie, and 5-year-old daughter Sarah Jane. Albert died in 1954 in Lebanon, Tennessee. He and his family are buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville.
1920-1921: Harry L. Williamson, Sr.
Eugene Crutcher sold the house to George B. Moulder for $10,000 in April 1920. Moulder in turn rented the house to Harry Loftin Williamson, Sr. (1883-1979) from 1920-1921. In 1920, Harry Loftin lived here with his wife Hallie L. Williamson (b.1887), 11-year-old son Harry Loftin, Jr. and 9-year-old daughter Virginia. Harry was employed as an assistant bank cashier at Fourth & First National Bank, which had been founded in 1865 and evolved into Caldwell Bank. He had previously lived at 1505 Ashwood Avenue near Hillsboro Village. In 1922, Harry was elected Treasurer of the Board of Directors for the Tennessee State Bankers Association. By 1930, he had been promoted to vice president of Caldwell Bank and lived in an upscale home on Cornwall Avenue in Belle Meade. Their son attended Vanderbilt University.
1922-1959: George B. Moulder
In 1922, George Byron Moulder (1869-1959) occupied the house and lived here until his death in 1959 with his wife Eva L. Knowles Moulder (1866-1951). George B. Moulder was a native of Smiths Grove in Warren County, Kentucky. He married Eva L. Knowles on February 9, 1899, in Jackson, Missouri. She was also from Warren County, Kentucky. They first lived in Elk Springs in Warren County, Kentucky, before relocating to Nashville by 1920 where they lived at 1102 18th
Avenue South (DV.00176). Their children included Minnie Janet Moulder (1900-1982), Jacob Craig Moulder (1902-1966), and Dr. Max Knowles Moulder (1905-1967).George B. Moulder was a noted horticulturist and landscape architect. In 1897, while living in Smith’s Grove, Kentucky, he exhibited aquatic plants, including 53 varieties of water lilies, at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition held in Nashville. In 1900, he was employed as a florist in Elk Springs, Kentucky. Moulder was appointed in 1905 as the Chief Gardener for the Illinois Central Railroad, based in Chicago, and charged with improving the gardens and grounds of the railway’s major passenger terminals located in New Orleans, Omaha, St. Louis, and Chicago. His office was located in Chicago.Moulder also served as President of The Railway Gardening Association, founded in 1906 by railroad executives who championed the beautification of railroad stations for passengers. The association held annual national conferences at rotating cities, such as Boston in 1909, Roanoke, Virginia, in 1912, and New Orleans in 1916. In the 1910s, George returned to Kentucky and sold mail-order landscaping plans and placed advertisements in national magazines such as Home & Garden. Moulder presented professional papers at national landscaping conferences, including The Railway Gardening Association’s convention held in Nashville in 1913 and New York in 1914. In 1917, Moulder was hired by the Nashville Board of Park Commissioners as a horticulturist in charge of landscaping the 72-acre Centennial Park (NR 7/15/2008), Nashville’s premiere city park centered on The Parthenon (NR 2/23/1972), the 1897 replica of the Athenian Parthenon. By 1920, Moulder had been promoted to Superintendent of Nashville’s City Parks, which included several small neighborhood parks and playgrounds scattered throughout the city. In the 1920s, the iconic Parthenon was reconstructed for use as the city’s art museum and in 1922, Centennial Park’s Lily Lake was converted into a Japanese Water Garden. While he was Superintendent, other improvements at Centennial Park include the reconfiguration of many of the roadways in 1928. In the late 1910s, George had also been involved with landscaping the gardens and grounds at The Hermitage, Home of President Andrew Jackson (NR 10/15/1966; NHL, 12/19/1960), which had opened near Nashville as one of the nation’s first historic site museums in 1889. George drew a comprehensive landscaping plan on architectural blue print paper for the entire site in 1920. While working as the Superintendent of Nashville’s City Parks, Moulder purchased this residence in 1920 and lived here with his wife Eva, daughter Janet, and two sons, Jacob and Max. In 1924, Janet was employed as a music teacher while living here. Jacob and Max lived here while attending Vanderbilt University in the 1920s and Jacob continued living here after finding employment as an accountant. Max became a physician. In 1930, while living in this house Moulder published The Parthenon at Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A. a history of the Nashville Pavilion at the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. Documenting the reconstruction of the iconic landmark in the 1920s, the 30-page book was reprinted in 1931 and 1932. Between 1924 and his death in 1959, Moulder made extra income by taking in boarders. Between 1924 and 1932, the house was also occupied by Edgar Ball Williamson (1876-1951) and his wife Mary Jane Whalley(1879-1958). Edgar was employed as an auditor with the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway, and purchased a home at 1217 16th Avenue South (DV.00353). (Edgar’s house was later repurposed into a talent agency and a historic music recording studio, called Sixteen Avenue Sounds Studios.)From 1933-1946, Moulder’s house was also occupied by Minnie McFerrin Gill (1870-1959), a widow, and her two daughters Louise Elizabeth Gill (1895-1966) and Mary Guy Gill Butler (1898-1971). In 1930,Minnie and her daughters were living in Los Angeles. Louise was employed as the chief clerk with the U.S. Forest Extension Service and Mary was a bookkeeper with a wholesale company. All three women later moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. In the 1940s, George B. Moulder’s son Dr. Max Knowles Moulder (1905-1967) lived here with his wife Marcella Grace Castle Moulder (1913-1977), a native of Kansas City, Missouri. Max was a noted physician, specializing in urology, with a private practice located in the Bennie Dillon “Doctor’s Building”
(NR7/25/1985) on Church Street in downtown Nashville. After graduating from Nashville’s Hume-Fogg High School (NR 10/17/1974) in 1922, Max received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University in 1926 and his M.D. from Vanderbilt University in 1929. He interned at the University of Nebraska and at Fifth Avenue and St. Luke’s Hospitals in New York City. He started his urology practice in Nashville in 1933 and worked on the staffs of Vanderbilt, Protestant, and Nashville General Hospitals. He also served in the U.S. Merchant Marines and as a Captain with the Army Medical Corps during World War II, serving on the front lines as a surgeon in the Battle of Solomon Island. During his time serving Solomon Islands, he contracted an illness and was sent to a military hospital in Longview, Texas, for over three months in 1943 before returning home to live with his parents and wife Marcella in this house. By 1949, Max and Marcella had moved to 4508 Granny White Pike in Nashville’s Green Hills neighborhood. In 1950, Moulder rented the apartment to Robert W. Robinson, a student, and his wife Ruth. Moulder’s wife Eva died on November 25, 1951. From 1953-1954, Moulder rented the apartment to Hale Brown Vick (1923-2014), a World War II veteran and clerk with the Pure Oil Company, and his wife Loudean L. Vick, as well as Clemmie Jacobs (1903-1981), widow of James Henry Jacobs (1881-1938). Clemmie was a native of Lincoln County, Tennessee. George B. Moulder died on March 10, 1959, and is buried at Smiths Grove Cemetery in Warren County, Kentucky. His son Jacob died in 1966 in Olmsted, Minnesota, and his son Max died in 1967 in Nashville. His daughter Janet died in 1982 in La Jolla near San Diego, California.
1962-1972: Boarding House
After George B. Moulder died in 1959, his tenant Clemmie Jacobs continued to live here until 1962. Short-term occupants included Thomas L. Criswell, Porter T. Clark, Mary Sawyers, Robert and Wilma Hart, Russell E. Sparks, Carl Hunt, John E. Mathis, Joe C. Payne, David Greer, Paul Mathis, and William Howard. Many renters were retired or listed no occupation in the city directories. Other renters worked for the Alladin and Genesco manufacturing plants. One renter drove an ice cream truck. Current owner David Briggs purchased the property in November 1972.
BACKGROUND HISTORY: 1207 16th Avenue South
The following is a historic overview of the southernmost building at 1207 16th Avenue South, which was converted into a music publishing house in 1974 as part of the House of David complex.
1909-1912: Thomas P. May
The 0.18-acre parcel was originally Lot 7 in the Belmont Land Company’s First Subdivision of Lot No. 23 of the O.B. Hayes Addition. Judge Oliver Bliss Hayes (1783-1858) lived in the 50.5-acre Rokeby estate located at 1908 Grand Avenue (no longer extant), which was initially subdivided in the late nineteenth century. More information can be found in the “Historic Music Industry Resources, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee” MPDF. The parcel measures 50 feet along the street front and 154.75 feet to the alley. The parcel is shown as empty on the 1908 Atlas of Nashville. The Belmont Land Company sold Lot 7 to Thomas Philip May, Sr. (b. 1867) for $1,250 in August 1908. Thomas P. May constructed this house between 1908 and 1909 and occupied it with his wife Ada M. Traylor (b. 1870) from 1909-1912. A native of Waverly in Humphreys County, Tennessee, Thomas was co-owner of Metz, Hill and May Clothiers. He married Ada M. Traylor in 1891. They lived in Waverly before moving to this house in Nashville in 1909. Their children included Thomas Philip May, Jr. (1906-1990) and Mary L. May (b. 1910). By 1920, they had moved to Elliott Avenue.
1912-1940: Edward B.Dakin
Edward “Ed” Barton Dakin (1865-1939) occupied the house with his wife Elizabeth Ward Dakin from 1912 until his death in 1939. A native of Urichsville, Ohio, Dakin had lived in Omaha, Nebraska, in the 1880s, before moving to Nashville where he was employed as the General Manager of the Nashville Banner newspaper. He and Elizabeth had one daughter, Guilberta Dakin Webb Maggiore (1894-1972), who lived in this house with her husband Paul St. Elmo Webb (1896-1990), a truck salesman. In 1930, the house was valued at $9,000. Dakin died in July 1939 and was buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery. The following year, 1940, his widow Elizabeth sold the house and moved to 1507 Linden Avenue and his daughter Guilberta moved to Buckhead, Georgia, with her second husband L.A. Maggiore, a native of New York.
1941-1950: Olivia E. Fackler
Olivia E. Fackler (b.1869) occupied the house from 1941-1950. A widow, Oliva’s husband was Calvin B. Fackler(b.1858), a railroad freight agent. Natives of Arkansas and Tennessee, respectively, Olivia and Calvin had lived in several cities, including Huntsville, Alabama, St. Paul, Minnesota, Memphis, and Chicago before moving to Nashville in the 1910s.
1950-1961: Rental House
From 1950-1961, the house was divided into apartments and occupied by various renters or left vacant. Mrs. Christine Jackson occupied “Apartment 2” in the house from 1950-1951. Albert Eugene McCord (1928-1966) and his wife Verla Bee Daughtery McCord (b. 1932) occupied the house in 1953. A World War II veteran, McCord was employed as a printer with the Alladin Company. The house was vacant for a few years before being occupied in 1957 by Mrs. Joe Vaughan. Fountain Brooks Kelsey (1909-1982) and his wife Mary Irene Kelsey (1909-1973) owned and occupied the house from 1958-1961. Kelsey was employed as a welder with the Nashville Bridge Company.
1962-1972: Boarding House
In 1962, Fountain B. and Mary Irene Kelsey sold the house to John Willard Alley (1914-1997) and Willard R. Perien, who converted it into a multi-unit boarding house for short-term renters. According to city directories, the house was typically occupied by two or three single renters and two or three married couples. These renters had working class employment, working at the White Way Laundry in Edgehill and as window cleaners, service station attendants, prison guards, for the railroad, waitresses, cooks, and in construction. Current owner David Briggs purchased the property in 1972.
In summary, the House of David Recording Studio Complex includes two extraordinary and well preserved examples of a repurposed music recording studio and repurposed music publishing house, two property types documented and described in the “Historic Music Industry Resources, Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee” MPDF completed in 2016. Both buildings retain a high degree of architectural integrity from the 1974-1989 period of significance for music industry resources.
The House of David has been operated by nationally acclaimed musician and music producer David Briggs since 1974 and is currently the oldest owner-operated independent commercial music recording studio on Music Row. In the 1970s and 1980s, David Briggs served as a significant leader in the music industry, establishing trends and precedents that were followed by others. While others focused only on country music genre, Briggs had a diverse clientele, including rock, pop, and country. Briggs also led the way in using his studio for diverse income streams, such as recording commercial jingles for scores of national corporations and brands. His multi-use complex was one of the first on Music Row to include not only a recording studio, but also a publishing house, demo studios, leased offices, and housing. With the multiple music industry businesses operating shoulder-to-shoulder at the complex, the House of David was a microcosm of the self-contained music-oriented Music Row neighborhood, which in the 1970s and 1980s evolved into the epicenter of the music industry in the U.S.
Over the past 42 years, countless hit songs and advertising jingles have been written, produced, arranged, published, and recorded at the House of David. Examples include Neil Young who recorded eight songs from his Old Ways album here in 1983 and Clint Black who recorded his first major album Killin’ Time here in 1989. Miller Brewing Company recorded its popular “Miller’s Made The American Way” commercial jingle here in 1985. Notable songs written at the House of David include “God Bless the Boys That Make the Noise on 16th Avenue -a Music Row anthem - which was recorded by Lacy Dalton in 1982. The House of David complex retains a remarkable level of integrity from its 1974-1989 period of significance and is one of the best preserved examples of a repurposed music recording studio and publishing house in Nashville. Due to its affiliation with acclaimed music industry leader David Briggs and the important music industry events that took place at this recording studio complex, the House of David is one of the most historically significant music industry businesses in Nashville. The House of David Recording Studio Complex is exceptionally significant, at the local level, to the history of the creation, recording, and publishing of music on Nashville’s legendary Music Row.
Operated by acclaimed music industry leader David Briggs since 1974, the House of David Recording Studio Complex retains historic integrity and essential physical features with regards to location, design, setting, materials, workmanship, feeling, and association as one of the best preserved repurposed commercial music recording studios in Nashville. The recording studio continues to look, feel, and operate as it did during its 1974-1989 period of significance.
Location: The House of David complex retains its original location on Nashville’s Music Row.
Design: Besides minor updates, primarily to the publishing house, the House of David complex has remained unaltered since 1974 and retains its original floor plans, configuration of interior spaces, materials, and room uses from the 1974-1989 period of significance.
Setting: The House of David complex retains its setting on Music Row from the 1974-1989 period of significance, surrounded by buildings, landscaping, and mature trees that contribute to the original neighborhood character and historic sense of place.
Materials: The House of David complex retains the materials from the 1974-1989 period of significance, such as hardwood floors, burlap covered soundproofed walls, metal spiral staircases, lead door, glass windows, and floor coverings.
Workmanship: The House of David complex retains its workmanship from the 1974-1989 period of significance. This is particularly evident in the recording studio, which retains original architectural features such as custom-designed stained glass windows, dropped and slanted ceilings, soundproofing, tilted glass window and floating hardwood floor in the control room, custom built-in cabinets and shelving, and glass sliding doors in the tracking rooms.
Feeling: The House of David complex retains a palpable sense of feeling, which conveys the significant role the recording studio played during the 1970s and 1980s, both on the exterior and the interior. Some recording studio equipment has been replaced or updated with vintage equipment that is period-appropriate, such as the 1972 API mixing console acquired in 1992 from a historic recording studio in Los Angeles.
Association: The House of David complex retains its tangible association with important events in Nashville’s music and cultural history during the 1970s and 1980s.