The central business district of the former Waverly Belmont community emerged in the first quarter of the 20th Century. Previously, farms, estates and enterprises off of Granny White Pike (now 12th Avenue South) were widely spaced, exemplified by the 1852 Sunnyside Greek Revival (in Sevier Park), Becker Farm off the Pike, and the Victorian and Foursquare homes and Schmidt nurseries on Caruthers Avenue. Around 1900 land companies built a streetcar line out the Pike and laid out adjoining subdivisions. By 1920, Belmont Baptist Church (now Belmont Heights on Belmont Blvd.), several commercial buildings, a blacksmith shop and the Clemons Elementary School had joined new houses on Granny White.
The 1940s were likely the zenith of Waverly Belmont. Charlie Howell III recalls a relatively complex, self-sufficient commercial district – groceries, drugstores, gas stations, ice house, tavern, meat and three, bookstore, in addition to the church and school – serving the growing subdivisions. The known tenants in the still-existing buildings from the period are identified in the attached list of 19 buildings plus one 2010 complementary structure. Many additional business and stories are in Mr. Howell’s reminisces, available from the Metro Nashville Historic Commission.
Following a debilitating mid-century emigration to the suburbs, successive alliances of business leaders and residents labored to reinvigorate the community. In September 1957, teachers, parents and students integrated Clemons School. In the ‘70s Sunnyside Neighbors addressed crime and affordable housing. In the ‘90s 1221 and Hawkins Partners, MDHA, and local entrepreneurs developed a thorough-going vision for the blighted community. Joel Solomon and Mark Deutschmann, among others, saw investment as realizing not only financial returns but jobs and community improvement; infrastructure as having physical, technical and personal aspects; and multi-faceted diversity as profound strength.
The new “12South” promise of these social investors is most apparent now in over fifty thriving businesses aged one to seventy, and continues to be conceived, designed and inhabited by locals to complement the old, and sustain the new neighborhood.
Taken from the 12south Neighborhood Assocation Page