Historic East Nashville church still rebuilding after 2020 tornadoes

A historic church in East Nashville continues to rebuild after a tornado struck the building in March 2020.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 8:25 PM EST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Three years ago parts of East Nashville were destroyed when a tornado touched down. Some businesses and homes haven’t even begun to rebuild, like one church engrained in Nashville history.

Since the deadly tornado tore through, people have started rewriting their next chapter. But for Rev. Brandon Baxter’s East End United Methodist Church congregation, their story is still in the making.

“It took the direct hit that possibly some of these homes might have taken,” points out Baxter.

Now, the church is a pile of rocks and foundation. Until last summer, the church sat looking like a bomb-shelled building. Piles of debris and the roof ripped out from the March 2020 tornadoes.

For the time being, the congregation has been worshipping at Warner Elementary school a few blocks away. But that will change when they rebuild the church to where it once was.

After demolition in 2022, East End plans to break ground this summer on their new church.

“We have a lot of stuff in storage right now we are planning to repurpose from the old building,” says Baxter.

The new building will look a lot like the 100-year-old one, with a sanctuary that reflects what was there before. Baxter says it takes time and money to get to this point.

“It does lie in the historic overlay of this neighborhood,” says Baxter. “Our designs did have to go through historic commission.”

The stained glass windows that lit up the old church will be refinished, as well as some pews.

“We also took trees that fell during the tornado and some of those will be used to make special pieces,” says Baxter.

They’re pieces of destruction not part of their original plan, but soon will be.

“Well it’s part of our story,” adds Baxter.

East End plans to have the new building complete by the end of 2024.

To donate to their general fund or the “Hope for Holly” project for their new development, click here.