Nudie’s Honky Tonk: Tribute to Nuta Kotlyarenko aka Nudie Cohn

Nudie's Honky Tonk

Nudie’s suits bring to mind Porter Waggoner, Roy Rogers, Dolly Parton, and even Robert Redford as “The Electric Horseman.”  They were only some of the country western singers and stars who wore Nudie Cohn’s rhinestone covered, embroidered suits.  Creeping down Broadway in the heavy evening traffic, music–albeit seriously out of tune–poured out of the open door of the recently-opened Nudie’s Honky Tonk.  The former Lawrence Record Shop was purchased for $5.5 million, and millions more were spent renovating, remodeling, and purchasing Nudie memorabilia to decorate–creating a museum that serves food and drink, serves up live music, and gives tourists a look into the development of both Nudie and the country music scene in Nashville and Hollywood (The Nashville Tennessean, March 11, 2016).

Born Nuta Kotlyarenko in Kiev, Ukraine in 1902, he was sent to the US at the age of 11 with his older brother in order to escape persecution and discrimination as the Russian Civil War loomed.  Ukraine was home to a large Jewish population at the time.  He met his future wife “Bobbie” in Minnesota and they married in 1934.  They made ‘custom undergarments’ for showgirls in New York City, later beginning the customized country western garments which would lead to Nudie’s Hollywood store and fame.  The first logo was a nude cowgirl wearing only boots, hat,  single gun in holster, and gloves while whirling a lasso.  The logo was sewn into the label.  In later years, she was clothed in a short skirt and vest.  Nudie died in 1984, and his wife Bobbie in 2006.

The building housing Nudie’s Honky Tonk was home to Lawrence Record shop in the 1950s.  Tax records indicate the building was constructed 1920, and newspaper articles identify it as the home of Phillips & Quarels Hardware Store from 1928 until it was transferred to Jack and Ida Lawrence in 1965, who operated the Lawrence Record Shop.  Mrs. Lawrence died and her executrix of the estate transferred the property to JBW Holdings for $1.00 January 29, 2016.

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Hume-Fogg Academic High School

Hume Gothic

The imposing Gothic Revival Hume-Fogg Academic High School occupies the block of Broadway between Rosa Parks Boulevard and 7th Avenue in Nashville.  Architects William B. Ittner and Robert S. Sharp designed the four-story building constructed of native white stone by George Moore & Sons contractors (The Tennessean,  Sept. 8, 1912, p. 3).  The cost was $400,000.

The school opened in September 1912 with “nearly 1,100 students” and could accommodate up to 1400 pupils.  Prof. J. H. Patterson was the principal.  The new Hume-Fogg high school was built on the site of the earlier Hume school, the first public school in Nashville.  Hume was named for Alfred Hume, considered the father of public education in Nashville.  Hume was asked to compile an investigation into public schools and his resulting plans were the basis of public education in Nashville.  The cornerstone for the first Hume school was laid in 1853 (The Tennessean, Jan. 25, 1916, p. 79).

The photograph of the entrance by EVula shows the intricate detail of the building which still serves Nashville students as one of two magnet high schoolsThe other is the historic Pearl Street school, now known as Martin Luther King, Jr. magnet high school.


EVula [CC BY 3.0 (, from Wikimedia Commons

The Fogg of Hume-Fogg was B. J. Fogg, the first president of the Nashville Board of Education.  Hume’s son, Alfred Hume, would continue his father’s legacy in higher education by becoming the first chancellor to possess an earned doctorate at the University of Mississippi.  He served two terms as chancellor, served as acting chancellor three times, and taught mathematics and astronomy.

Posted in Gothic Revival, Nashville, University of Mississippi | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Union Station: “…a great day for Nashville”

Broadway 1

Ground was broken for the new Union Station, Broad and Walnut Street, Nashville August 1, 1898 (The Tennessean, Oct. 9, 1900, p. 1).  The planned $1,000,000 terminal station and adjacent facilities to meet freight, mail, and storage were featured in “New Terminal Stations in the South” (The Tennessean, Nov. 27, 1899, p. 4).  The station opened Sept. 3, 1900, and the formal opening was held Oct. 9, 1900.

I look around and wonder what hands have wrought this splendor of my going.  It is the work of years now come to splendid consummation under the wise direction of Maj. E. C. Lewis–the magnificent Union Station.  One million and a half of dollars have been expended to make it the most superb and complete depot south of the Ohio River.  Nashville is proud of it, and her interest in every line will be enhanced by it…The hand of progress is truly stamped upon the great city throughout.  The Superintendent of these terminals, B. M. Starks, commenced as an operator and is not yet over 35 years of age, a splendid example of what energy and capacity properly directed will accomplish.

‘All aboard,’ cried Capt. Williams, and we rolled out of the great station, not forgetting that from the tower of the pretty building the God of Mercury, with his outstretched hand, pointed the traveler to safe passage on his journey. (The Tennessean, Sept. 17, 1900, p. 6)

Wikipedia indicates the station was designed by Richard Montfort, chief engineer of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad, in order to serve the eight railroads that provided passenger service to and from Nashville.  The former train station is now operated as the Union Station Hotel Nashville.  After the railroad ceased service in 1979, the station was vacant for a period as Nashville was insistent that any re-use had to preserve the main terminal and adjacent buildings.  It was converted to a hotel in 1986, but was not sustainable and went bankrupt.  It was re-opened and in 2012 became a Marriott and was again renovated in 2016.  The hotel offers historic tours on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday.


…Romanesque in design…built of Bowling Green gray stone, with ashlar face carved in and capped with the same material. It is four stories high, with a big, square tower of severe, though admirable, lines, rising to a height of 320 feet, capped with a bronze Mercury as a finial.  The roof is slate, with gables and demons, after the Romanesque fashion, set fittingly and without stint. (The Tennessean, Oct. 9, 1900, p. 1)

Significant individuals from the Louisville and Nashville Railroad who were involved in the project included:

  • M. H. Smith, President, responsible for the arrangements of the lay-out
  • August Belmont, Chairman of the Board
  • Maj. J. W. Thomas
  • Maj. E. C. Lewis, Director General and President of Terminal Company
  • R. Montfort, Chief Engineer of the L & N Railroad and Chief Engineer of the Terminal Company, prepared plans and prints
  • W. E. Hutchings, assistant engineer, supervisor of construction
  • H. C. Griswold, engineer 1898-1900
  • M. H. Wright, engineer 1900
  • Foster & Creighton, contractors for graduation and masonry
  • Charles A. Moses, general contractor for station and baggage, mail and express buildings
  • W. E. Wood, superintendent of construction for contractor
  • Louisville Bridge & Iron Company, with Terminal Company’s forces, constructed train shed and viaducts
  • Geo. M. Ingram, Nashville Roofing & Paving Company, paving of viaducts and concrete work on the concourse
  • Mosaic Tile Company of Zanesville, Ohio, paving and flooring and tiling of main station
  • McNulty Bros., plaster work
  • M. J. Doner, art work
  • Almini Company, painting and varnishing
  • John L. Nelson & Bros., frescoing and interior decoration
  • D. W. Watson’s Sons Company, plumbing, gas, and electric
  • Phillips and Company, roofing and guttering
  • Henry Taylor Manufacturing Company, with Edgefield & Nashville Manufacturing Company, interior wood finish and furniture
  • Champion Iron Company, ornamental iron work and stairways
  • Bourlier Cornice and Roofing Company, slate and galvanized iron

Whilst driving down Broadway Street on our way back to the hotel after dinner, who would have thought a random street photo would lead me on this trajectory?  Clearly, we have more visits to make to Nashville.  There is more than the music scene to discover.

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Art Moderne in Jackson Municipal Utilities

jea front elevation

I spotted this Art Moderne building on the south edge of Jackson, Tennessee on our recent trip to Nashville. [Note: The angular curve is a result of taking a panoramic view to capture the entire building; it is actually constructed as a small rectangular box, as you can see in the following photographs.] Although I can find no definitive proof yet, there is evidence it was related to the New Deal Administration and the development of TVA after Tennessee converted to publicly owned utilities in 1939.  West Tennessee Power and Light was a privately owned utility company, and was involved in a six-year court battle with TVA.  An agreement was finally reached in 1939 between the New Deal Administration and West Tennessee Power and Light, and TVA purchased electrical properties in Tennessee in the move to public ownership (Jackson Sun, Feb. 5, 1939, p. 10).

side elevation with screen

There is no signage as to the building’s purpose, but it resembles PWA Moderne pumping stations in Los Angeles.  Ernest Taylor was Commissioner of Public Utilities in 1939, and in running for re-election in 1943, his campaign statement identified the status of utilities and accomplishments in and after 1939:

…Water Pumping Station was under process of being constructed” [in 1939]. Jackson Sun, Mar. 3, 1943, p. 2)

Other news items in the Jackson Sun 1939 described a PWA contract for cooling fans for new substations, and remodeling of the city water plant.  One sub-station was to be located near the city’s water works plant in south Jackson.  The original Chalybeate Well and adjacent water plant were north of this building.

Possibly this was connected with the pumping station, or it might have been one of the sub-stations for cooling fans connected with the TVA electric power distribution.  The photograph below seems to indicate some type of storage capacity, and the screens on the building would facilitate ventilation of fans.

water supply

Please leave a comment if you know of anything else about the history of this building.

Posted in Art Moderne, New Deal Administration | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Ruthie Foster at City Winery, Nashville

Two years ago I stumbled across an article on Ruthie Foster, the singer/songwriter/guitarist from a little place in Texas called Gause.  It did not take me long to fall in love with her voice and her songs, and her fine guitar playing.  I have used some of her videos in class a few times, and listened to her songs a lot.  Lo and behold, she was in Nashville Friday night, and Memphis Saturday night, and I told Rand “I really want to see this woman.”  He allowed as how he would rather go to Nashville.

I have not had a weekend or evening off since August 1, so we made plans and headed to Nashville, a mere 4 hour or so drive.    Her show was at City Winery.  It was a great venue, wonderful food, and good wine.  Our table was the second from the stage.  Ruthie Foster is incredible: funny, beautiful, talented, kind, gracious, and I could go on a while here.  The opening act was Carolina Story, who certainly made the wait for Ruthie Foster worthwhile.  Ben and Emily Roberts, along with steel guitarist Sam provided the perfect segue into a night of the vocals, music, and joy of Ruthie Foster.

See her; hear her.  And send a little joy along to your fellow travelers while you are at it.  We all need it right now.


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Atlanta’s WPA-Renovated Auditorium-Armory


I ran across the architect rendering by A. Ten Eyck Brown, above, while searching for information about Atlanta’s sewer system.  In 1933, Atlanta applied for a loan from the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to construct a new auditorium that was proposed to “…cost $1,500,000, seat 9,000 persons, and contain auditorium, theater and convention features which would be second to none in the country” (The Atlanta Constitution, Aug. 13, 1933, p. 1).  Brown…

…pointed out that the present auditorium on Gilmer street, which was built in 1909, is obsolete and inadequate, especially in its armory, and a hazard in many respects. (Largest City Auditorium in Southeast Planned Here. The Atlanta Constitution. Aug. 13, 1933, p. 6)

Brown proposed the new building would include a flat arena that could be inclined, a dress circle, balcony, stage, lobbies, restrooms, be fire proof, and have capacity to raise and lower the stage and include a smaller theater with separate entrances from the larger main theater.  It would include exhibition rooms and studios.  The armory would include ground-floor mezzanines, locker, supply rooms, headquarters, offices, drill room, moveable seats, mechanical heating and cooling, swimming pool, and spectator seats.

The order to design the building was preceded by a contentious city council meeting whereby much division over the budget occurred.  Those opposed were concerned because of the salary cuts to be imposed of 31 per cent in order to secure Atlanta bank funding for the city portion.  At the time, more than 4,000 city employees were more than a month behind in pay.

What of the building it was designed to replace?

The first meeting to plan the Atlanta Auditorium-Armory was held in 1907 by the Atlanta Auditorium Association with a meeting of the stockholders and the board of directors, by President James R. Gray (The Atlanta Constitution, Apr. 2, 1907).  The constitution and bylaws were adopted, and chairman J. J. Spalding presented a report authorizing a series of bonds, which was also adopted.

In the post card above, Gilmer Street is the street mid-card to right and Courtland Avenue is mid-card to left.  By July, the floor plans were presented to the building committee and illustrated entrances that fronted on both Courtland Avenue and Gilmer Street.  The main entrance to the auditorium was on Courtland, and Gilmer Street featured seven entrances.  The Atlanta Constitution, Jul. 14, 1907, p. 3 featured in depth descriptions of the interior and exterior of the building.  An alcove was designed to hold an “immense organ” (p. 3).   The small auditorium could seat 800-1000, “…while Architect Morgan declares that twelve hundred, possibly fifteen hundred, may be accommodated therein.”  Consistent with the architect’s high expectations, “the greater auditorium can take care of a seventy-five hundred minimum, and with well trained ushers can comfortably add another fifteen hundred to two thousand.”  I assume that means seating was not fixed?

The 15,000 square feet of sectional flooring for the auditorium was one and one-quarter inch thick maple, and designed to be able to be removed and relaid depending on the need.  This decision was arrived at when the need for dirt on top of concrete for the horse show would necessitate excessive cost installation and removal of dirt (The Atlanta Constitution, Feb. 13, 1909, p. 7).  By November, the project had sufficient revenue to repay the stockholder subscriptions in the amount of $7,817.50 when the city took over the building and assumed the obligations for the bonds.  Contractors were Gude and Walker, and Morgan & Dillon were architects.

So how did the Atlanta Auditorium and Armory get from 1909 to the proposed new building pictured below in 1933?  Let’s go back to Architect A. Ten Eyck Brown.


According to Robert M. Craig (2002), A. Ten Eyck Brown (1878-1940)

…was the prominent architect of public buildings in Atlanta for the first third of the twentieth century; he was rivaled only by Morgan and Dillon (later Morgan, Dillon, and Lewis. (New Georgia Encylopedia, Dec. 7, 2016).

Albert Anthony Ten Eyck Brown was the son of an architect.  Trained at the Academy of Design in New York, he worked in both New York and Washington, D. C. prior to moving to Atlanta.  Even during the depression, Brown was active, designing many stripped-down Depression classical public buildings.  Brown’s new auditorium-armory was never built, and he died in 1940 prior to the completion of his last project.  He would, however, have weathered the ups and downs of the failure of Atlanta to secure the new building and see his competition, Morgan & Dillon, gain the WPA contract to renovate the old auditorium-armory building, which Morgan had initially designed.

In 1936, the plans to demolish and rebuild the old auditorium-armory were underway.

Demolition of Aud-Armory

The Constitution, March 8, 1936, p. 14

The auditorium was scheduled for completion by June 15, 1937, but was still under construction in February 1938.  “The taxpayers of the city were saved a total of $896,300 by the WPA in remodeling the auditorium” (Councilman John A. White, chairman of the building committee).  Repair work was completed by WPA workers, although private contractors were used on steel joists, new cantilever columns, renovation of entrance, lobby and cleaning (The Constitution, Feb. 27, 1938, p. 45).


The renovated auditorium was completed in 1938, and in 1940, the front portion of the building was destroyed by fire A new entrance on Courtland was proposed and the auditorium cleaned and renovated to host the opera again, however, the newly elected mayor suspended the work on the front of the building in 1942, stating,

There’s not enough money to be spending on work like that.

The new front to the auditorium was finally completed in 1943.  Archival photographs show a new front erected in front of the rear nine arches of the 1909 red brick building in the post card photo.  Google map indicates that portion of the original building is no longer extant.  The 1943 front portion, pictured below is now part of Georgia State University.


GSU Dahlbery Hall, 2012.  CC BY-SA 3.0 by Keizers. Retrieved from


Posted in New Deal Administration, Work Projects Administration | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Randy Bakes “Fancy Party Cookies”

Cookies and recipe

Last year at work, Rand participated in the Christmas Cookie Exchange.  I baked his cookies for him, and scanned my mother’s well-worn and well-loved sugar cookie recipe.  In their exchange, they gift 2 cookies per person of all the cookies contributed, plus a copy of the recipe.  This year when he said “I need cookies for the Cookie Exchange Monday” I said I had a great idea!  Make your grandmother’s Fancy Party Cookies …because I really do not have time to do that.  I am on overload this fall, and it has been a challenge to survive, let alone clean house, do laundry, and for sure, bake Christmas cookies.

So, Sunday afternoon, off he went to the grocery store to purchase the ingredients for Fancy Party Cookies, returning with flour (we had some in the refrigerator), cookie sheet (we have one, but it would have required ‘sand-blasting’ according to him), real [his words] almond extract, and Bluebonnet Margarine–because that is what Grandmother’s recipe required.  Off I go to my room to grade papers.

Knock knock knock. “I need some help.  Can you come in here?”

recipe ingredients

There on the counter is a bowlful of flour, butter, sugar, egg, salt, almond extract…  “It won’t stick together.”  Did you put all the ingredients in?  Let’s check.  Check.  You are not supposed to use the hand mixer. Maybe that is the issue.  “I tried a spoon…it broke.”

Since this was basically a sugar cookie recipe, I suggested we check Mom’s recipe for comparison.  Nope, no comparison: Mom’s called for more eggs, more sugar, more flour, vanilla extract, and more Crisco–not butter or margarine, along with salt.  I might add that Mom’s sugar cookies are famous world-wide solely because I have baked them in other countries, and in Texas from the Panhandle to the coast, in Mississippi, and last year, her recipe was awarded “best authentic recipe” but I think that was because I scanned the dog-eared, food-spilled-on, torn-edged recipe just as I use it.

Sugar Cookies

He decided to add an egg, and I suggested he not use the mixer (which even his grandmother’s recipe instructions said) and said he needed a big fork.  Okay, he said he could take it from there and I went back to grading and he went back to making cookies.

Knock knock knock.  “Can you come here?”  Of course, honey.  “What do you think?”  Well, it seems a bit doughy, probably because it is overworked with the mixer.  Is that unusual flavor the almond extract?  “I think so.  Now what?”  The recipe says to roll out marble size balls, flatten them with a glass dipped in sugar.  “How big is a marble?”  Oh, I am thinking about this size [pointing to the jar of marbles from his childhood that are on the shelf next to Grandmother’s recipe].  He rolls a golf-ball sized ball.  Okay, honey, that should work, too.

recipe instructions[1]

Yeah, you know what is coming next, don’t you?  Knock knock knock.  “What temperature do I put the oven?  350?”  The recipe does not say?  “Would I be down here asking if it did?”  Yes, 350 will work; that is a moderate oven.  Your grandmother probably made these on a wood-fired oven. Well probably she did not, since she had an electric hand mixer, but still…

Knock knock knock.  “How long should they cook?”  I’m guessing the recipe doesn’t say that either?  Mom’s said 8 minutes, but you should probably check to see when they are just lightly browned as you do not want the bottoms to burn.  Down the hall I go to check them and they are about perfectly browned, so I suggested he let them cool and check them and decide if the next sheet needs more or less time.  Yep, that is how I learned to cook.

“What if they are terrible and no one likes them?”  You know what I think?  That they will appreciate that you baked these cookies, and that you made your grandmother’s recipe, and that even if they do not like them, they will not tell you because it is the Christmas Cookie Exchange and you put forth the effort.

Knock knock knock.  He presents a cookie at the door.  Yes, this is good!  What did you do?  “Sugar.  Now, what do I put them in?”


He bagged the cookies 2 to a bag (that is how the exchange works) and nestled them in a pretty box I had in the pantry (because I love pretty boxes) and toted them off this morning.  He brought home the box with the 2 cookies of each recipe others brought.  I think I know what is for dinner tonight.



Posted in Country Philosophy, Food and Wine, Mississippi, Texas, University of Mississippi | 2 Comments

Perkins-Timberlake on the Decatur Square


Back in 1897, J. J. Perkins opened his first dry goods store on the Decatur, Texas square.  Known as The Red Store, Perkins ‘Shouted the glad tidings’ in the Decatur Wise County Messenger:

The reign of High Prices is over. Decatur again has a store that stands by the people–a store that underbuys all others by buying in Large Quantities and Paying SPOT CASH. A store that will stand by you in time of need. A store that is contented with a small margin. We have made our money in Buying–not in Selling. This store is THE RED STORE–the makers, leaders and protectors of Low Prices. In the RED STORE you have a store that has fought the Credit System from beginning to end. The credit system is the curse of the land. In buying on a credit you are forging your own chains of bondage. Break loose your shackles and join the eager happy throng at THE RED STORE that are buying goods for almost half what they were paying when they bought from the High Priced Credit Merchant.

I wrote previously about the Perkins-Timberlake chain of Northwest Texas in the Olney post.  Perkins first store was on the Northwest corner of the Square in the Hollenbeck Building (demolished 1970) and a year later he moved to the West side of the Square.  Finally by 1900, he was permanently located in the middle of the North side of the square in the Hatcher Building.  In 1934, the store was completed remodeled and modernized with “new hardwood floors, Grand Rapids latest fixtures and a modern lighting system” (Decatur Wise County Messenger, 1934).Perkins-Timberlake detail

Perkins went into partnership with his nephew, Frank P. Timberlake about 1914 and they opened stores in Bowie, Electra, Haskell, Jacksboro, Olney, Seymour, Vernon, and Wichita Falls, Texas and Fredericksburg, Oklahoma throughout the years.

The Wise County Tax Appraisal office building gives the date of construction as 1937.

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New Deal in Texas: Bunger PWA School House

front elevation 2

The Bunger school house is in Young County, just a few miles down the road from Graham, my home town.  It was completed in 1936 as PWA project W1255 and is rock veneer.  Miss Fannie Ragland was the county superintendent when the school was built.  The Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works funded the project.  The construction contract was awarded to Mont Groves of Olney, also in Young County.  Wichita Falls architects Voelcker and Dixon designed the school.

From appearances in June, the school is undergoing renovation, and I assume it is a private residence or will be at completion.  It appears that the north ell was converted to a garage/carport at some point since it mirrors the south ell and also has a finished interior.

Posted in New Deal Administration, Public Works Administration, school houses, Texas, Young County | Tagged | 2 Comments

Keesler Bridge, Greenwood

Keesler Bridge

Keesler Bridge spans the Yazoo River from Fulton Street on the south side of the river to Grand Boulevard on the north side.  As part of his January-October 1986 survey of historic bridges in Mississippi, Jack D. Elliott, Jr. surveyed the swing through truss bridge constructed in 1925 by the Riley-Bailey Construction Company.  The bridge last turned to permit river traffic to pass in the 1950s according to the official Greenwood city site.

Keesler is adjacent to the Cotton Row District, a section of Greenwood that still boasts some of its brick paved streets.  Brick was authorized as the paving material for Greenwood streets at the January 1924 City Council meeting (Greenwood Daily Commonwealth, 02 Jan 1924, p. 1).

The year 1924 should be one of civic progress for Greenwood.  As the year is ushered in, it finds, unsightly and unsatisfactory wood block with which the business streets have been paved being replaced with enduring brick.

The year should see the beginning of construction work on a new bridge across the Yazoo river to replace the present structure with is both inadequate and unsafe. (The Greenwood Daily Commonwealth, 01 Jan 1924, p. 2)

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