Nashville’s historic properties: Post-war modern architecture

In the final stop on Metro’s Old House Series, we’ll uncover Nashville’s latest historic property style, which reached peak builds between 1940 and 1960.

A black and white photo of a two level home with a flat roof and as many as 10 windows.

The Martin House is an example of the contemporary style in Nashville. | Photo via the National Register of Historic Places

Last up on our historic home tour and the latest era in Metro’s Old House Series (1940-1960) is post-war modern architecture.

Pro tip: If you missed an article in our five-part deep dive — no need to come knocking. Whether you just want to learn more about the historic styles that make up Nashville’s neighborhoods, or you’re not sure what to consider when restoring a property, the miniseries lives in our Real Estate section.

🔨 Where did it come from?

Labor and materials were dedicated to World War II efforts, which meant new builds were put on hold nationwide during that time. After the war ended, however, a building boom took off to satisfy returning soldiers’ needs for affordable housing. Almost simultaneously in Nashville, the steetcar system ceased operations and residents began moving further away from the urban core as automobile usage took off.

🔍 Spot that style

The combination of factors above supported a suburban movement filled with more modest developments and accommodation to “modern conveniences.” This saw a variation of three common styles:

  • Minimal traditional | Compact sizes, simple exteriors, and one to one-and-a-half stories commonly found in Nashville’s Inglewood Place Historic District and Donelson’s Bluefields Historic District
  • Ranch | Dominant style of the 1950s with asymmetrical one-story shapes, low-pitched roofs with modern to wide eave overhang, broad and rambling facades, carports, picture windows, and cast iron column supports
  • Contemporary | Architect-designed house style divided into subtypes based on roofs

Though split-level homes also cropped up during this time, they were far more popular in the northeast. On the latter end of the era, the shed style also emerged taking inspiration from ranch homes.

🏡 Love it? Live it

If you like what you’re reading, check out some post-war modern homes on the market today.

  • Glencliff ranch-style | $399,900 | 3BD, 1BA | Wood-burning fireplace, detached garage with carport, and a covered back patio
  • Haynes Heights ranch-style | $499,000 | 4BD, 3BA | Hardwood floors throughout + a second primary bedroom with its own wood-burning fireplace and ensuite
  • Madison ranch-style | $475,000 | 3BD, 2BA | One-owner family home since its construction and a finished basement
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