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Our History

The congregation of Tulip Street was organized in 1859 on Tulip Street in Edgefield, a then affluent satellite city of Nashville, which has since been renamed Fifth Street. Thirty years later, to accommodate the continuing growth of the church, plans were made for the current structure at the corner of Sixth and Russell Streets. The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1891, with completion and dedication in 1892.

Since its completion in 1892, the church building and its members have endured many joys and tribulations. In 1916, the Great East Nashville Fire ravaged the entire Edgefield community, leaving only two churches remaining: Tulip Street United Methodist and St. Ann’s Episcopal. Saving the church building from the devastation of the fire, church members left their burnning homes to form a bucket brigade to keep the intense heat and flames from reaching the church.

The most recent disaster to strike this historic congregation was the April 1998 tornado, which demolished the entire east wall of the sanctuary, but left the rest of the sanctuary’s interior unscathed. In the darkness, shortly after the storm, “Amazing Grace” echoed from the bells in Tulip Street’s tower, offering comfort and hope to the devestated community. With the help of volunteers, scaffolding was erected in place of the east wall for structual support, allowing regular Sunday Services to continue in the sanctuary without interruption throught the rebuilding process.

Glorious stained-glass pieces, recovered from the original windows, were used in the newly reconstructed windows. Decorative terra-cotta moldings had been crafted to return the buildings exterior to its original character. Although the bell tower withstood the high winds of the storm, further inspection revealed serious structual damage. By April 2000 all repairs were completed and the bells within Tulip Street’s tower once again echoed songs of faith throughout the community. At long last, both church and congregation are whole and strong.

ABOUT THE SANCTUARY

Many architectural experts regard Tulip Street’s sanctuary as the finest example of neo-Romanesque architecture in the Nashville area, characterized by the extensive use of rounded arches, vaulted ceilings, and terra-cotta moldings that reveal much symbolism. The cherub faces on the four corners of the exterior of the bell tower are placed above the gargoyles, symbolizing the presence of “good over evil”. The hand-carved cherub faces overlooking the main chandelier inside the sanctuary symbolize angels “watching from above”.

The interior components of the sanctuary are also original. The altar rail, table, pulpit chairs, and pews are all hand-carved, as well as the massive ceiling beams. The chandeliers are original fixtures, which were converted from gas to electricity after the turn of the century. The stained-glass in all of the windows, with the exception of the east wall, are from the original installation. Repairs and restoration to these windows were performed in 1959 using salvaged glass from cathedrals in Europe that were bombed during the second world war.

The organ, built by Jardine and Sons of New York, was installed in 1892. This twenty-six rank tracker pipe organ consists of more than fourteen hundred pipes. Air is released from air chambers into the pipes manually each time a key is depressed. These air chambers, originally supplied with air from hand operated bellows in the basement, now use air flow created from an electric motor. Other than that modification and restoration in 1976, the organ is as it was when it was first installed.

The Tennessee Centennial Bells, a collection of ten bells, are suspended in the main tower. These bells, first used during the Tennessee Centennial Exposition in what is now Centennial Park, were purchased and relocated to Tulip Street’s tower after the celebration in 1896. The bells are played manually from a console in the balcony of the sanctuary.

Another 100 Years:  A Campaign to Restore & Preserve Tulip Street’s Historic Bells

Another 100 Years:  The Video

This church has been serving the needs of its congregation and community for more than one hundred years and is being maintained and preserved to continue for many more to come.