When I mentioned to friends that I was writing a post on Ruby,
most asked, “What’s that?” You know that cool building on
Wedgewood/Blakemore between Fannie Mae Dees Park and Harris Hillman
School? That’s Ruby.
With contemporary lines, Ruby offers a welcoming entrance.
Formerly the Primitive Baptist Church, this once sacred space still
has a sense of soul, and we can only imagine the tales that could be
told. In its newly renovated state, it lives on as one of the hippest,
coolest event spaces in town. Its modern exterior is visually appealing,
and once inside, you’ll marvel at the use of light and space, as Ruby
offers a sense of openness with her towering ceiling and blank slate.
Exposed beams and concrete, create a great party feel.
When I sat down to interview Dan Cook, the man behind the building, I
realized Dan is a lot of things rolled into one – part visionary, part
preservationist, a neighborhood advocate and a bull-in-the-china-shop
kind of guy. Together with his wife Brenda, they wanted to put their
stamp on Nashville, and their renovation of Ruby does just that.
Dan and Brenda Cook welcome patrons on opening night.
“So why’d you take on this project?” I asked Dan. “Lots of reasons,”
was his reply, and he took me through the journey that led him to this
place. It celebrates the past by reclaiming an old building and creates
something better; it energizes the adjoining park and school with its
sense of presence and beauty, and it joins the neighbors together to
make where they live more communal and fun.
Ruby can take on many different personalities with lighting and space planning.
Ruby is small and intimate, accommodating about 200 people inside.
If you think about it, there are often thousands of reasons why
something won’t work, but one reason why it will—vision. This project is
a prime example. Looking beyond the obstacles – a dilapidated church in
a prime neighborhood with a ton of zoning restrictions – Dan and Brenda
saw potential way beyond typical high density office space or
multi-family dwelling reclamations.
By tenting the outside front, Ruby transforms with a new look
Ruby now welcomes a host of events from weddings to corporate
meetings, with a standing church service held every Sunday morning, and
Harris Hillman School benefits from its new neighbor by providing
parking for nightly events. Dan and Brenda consider Ruby the hub of the
wheel when it comes to the Hillsboro Village neighborhood. We couldn’t
What a great visual to leave you with...Ruby rocks!
And as an aside, I had my own special moment of being dazzled by this building when Liza and I were honored by Nashville Post
magazine as one of Nashville’s Entrepreneurs of the Year in 2012. Yep,
the party was held here and I loved seeing how this space worked for
such an event. I tell you what, I walked away wanting to throw a party
as Ruby stole the show that night.
A special thanks to Donald Yeager Photography for the generous use of his images.
For more information about Ruby, click here.
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