Video: “American Pickers” Star Mike Wolfe’s Historic Restoration

Video: “American Pickers” Star Mike Wolfe’s Historic Restoration

When “American Pickers” television star, Mike Wolfe, bought a dilapidated building originally constructed in 1882, several general contractors in Nashville turned down the opportunity to help him restore and adapt it into a multi-use retail and event space. To them, it was just something to be torn down, considering it had no floors and a collapsed roof at the time.

The building was originally built by a Hungarian Jewish immigrant who lived upstairs and operated a grocery store downstairs. Wolfe wanted to save the building because he saw it as a legacy project that he hopes will continue the North Gulch neighborhood’s urban revival. He also hopes to inspire developers across Nashville to more seriously consider rehabilitating old buildings instead of demolishing them.

Dowdle Construction Group, after reviewing designs from Dryden Architecture and Design, was ready to take on the challenge. The team transformed the building while preserving its industrial charm with exposed brick walls and steel beams. The building previously housed a tattoo parlor/barbershop and an event space, but was recently purchased by entrepreneur Turner Nashe, owner of ReCOVer-Health.

Watch this video to learn more about Mike Wolfe’s restoration.

Video transcript:

“So much development is happening right now in Nashville, which is great. It’s fantastic. The city is growing, it’s evolving, but for me, I think it’s so important to honor what Nashville was.

What I’m standing in right now is 1882. This was a mercantile, a grocery store.

The roof of this building had caved in all the way to the ground level. All that was left inside was the trusses.

I have restored a lot of buildings, done a lot of preservation work, but I’ve never bought a building that was this bad off.

A lot of the guys that did historic preservation were looking at this project, and they were like, ‘I don’t want to touch it. I don’t want the liability of it. I don’t see this going any further than what you have right now.’

Dowdle came over and looked at the project and immediately started talking about solutions in regards to strapping the building, shimming the building up, shoring it up, making sure that what I had was going to be stable, so they could take it apart piece by piece. That’s actually what had to happen. They had to remove each piece of wood piece by piece, so the whole structure would not collapse.

They were passionate about it. That says a lot to me about the company. This was my passion. This was my idea. This was my dream, but immediately, they were on board with it. This isn’t a huge building. This is 3,200 square feet, but they saw that it was historic. They saw that it mattered, not only to me, but to the city and to this neighborhood. And once one person does a building in a neighborhood, there’s a ripple effect.

What we did to this building was an example of what can be done if you care about the history of this community.

I saw them overcome challenges and get very creative when most would have thrown up their hands.

Everything from brand-new construction to historic preservation, their points of excellence are truly on the mark.”


Learn more about Dowdle’s work in adaptive reuse construction here.

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