The Tennessee Historical Commission (THC), the state agency that is designated as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), announced on Monday the addition of two properties to the National Register of Historic Places. They include two later-20th century properties – a synagogue in Shelby County, and the Wayne County Courthouse.
“These properties are unique and important examples of mid-century modern design, and are emblematic of the era in which they were constructed,” said State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director Patrick McIntyre.
Designed by the Nashville architectural firm of Yearwood and Johnson and completed in 1975, the Wayne County Courthouse exemplifies the character defining features of Brutalism design. The large-scale angular building is notable for the exposed “raw” concrete/masonry exterior, large areas of formed concrete and limited fenestration. The combination of voids and solids of the design give the building a unique appearance. All these features of Brutalism are extant in the building and part of the original design. Features of Brutalism inside that remain are the exposed concrete and marble with no embellishments. A comparison of the building with the few Brutalist designs in the state reveals that the Wayne County Courthouse is unique in design due to the relationship of the solid rectangles, sloping rooflines, and tall clock tower.
The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources. The SHPO administers the program in Tennessee.