The History of Cannery Row
Nashville’s historic Cannery Row is a small enclave of 19th century warehouses exemplifying the food processing industry that helped shape Nashville more than a century ago. Built in 1883 as the Nashville Mill Company, the western-most building known as the Cannery was a place where grains were processed and shipped by rail all over the country. At one time the Cannery was regarded as the “largest winter wheat mill in the world”. In the 1920’s the building was purchased by the Fletcher•Wilson Coffee Company. They sold such brands as “Bubbling Over” and “Luxury”. It changed hands again in 1957 when the Dale foods Company bought it and turned it into a canning facility. Here they made jellies, jams, mustard, ketchup and peanut butter for 2 decades.
In the late 1970’s, owner Perry Dale opened a country music theatre and restaurant in the building that now houses the one of the most important American Music venues of the last decade -The Mercy Lounge/Cannery Ballroom/High Watt stages. Even by the 80’s and into the 90’s it had developed into a regionally infamous music venue that hosted noteworthy touring acts of the day including the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Midnight Oil, Jane’s Addiction, Iggy Pop, Lenny Kravitz, and veteran artists such as Jimmy Cliff, Greg Allman and Robin Trower just to name a few. In recent years, the Cannery Ballroom has hosted some of the largest acts of today including Adele, Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, Jack White, the Black Keys, Queensryche, Robert Plant and even the daughter of the King of Rock n Roll, Lisa Marie Presley.
In 1991, a visionary named Eddie Warner purchased his first building on Cannery Row and relocated his electronic parts business, Eddie Warner Inc., in the 521 Building. In the years that followed, he accumlulated 3 more buildings and a couple of other parcels of land. He saw the potential to develop a community and had a real respect and reverance for the history of the properties. For a number of years, with the help of his sons, Ed and Scott, Mr Warner organized many of the spaces into rental facilities for artists, photography studios and lofts. Following the passing of Eddie Warner in 2000, Warner Partners, LP was established by Ed and Scott to lead the continued development and vision that Mr. Warner had started. They acquired the last couple pieces of property to complete the area currently known as Cannery Row.
Shown above is a map published in 1888 and shows the Cannery Building in its original form. It is the 5 story building along the railroad tracks. The opposite side is what is now the Gulch. Spruce Street is what 8th Avenue South was called at that time.
After a storm in 2003 that nearly destroyed the Cannery building that houses the Mercy Lounge, Warner Partners decided to rebuild with many marked improvements that are still taking place and defining it’s status as a place to see a great show, startup a new business, or even get a great haircut.
As Nashville continues to evolve into a world class city, Cannery Row continues to be a link to historic Nashville and is a preferred location for people to live, work and play among all of the spectacular new additions to our city.