Demolition teams brought down LifeWay’s Draper Tower on Saturday without incident. The building was known for the Christian crosses on its façade, and its implosion makes way for a new billion-dollar development in its place.
Near Union Station, more than a hundred people braved the freezing weather to catch a glimpse of the 12-story tower’s final moments. A building this large hasn’t come down in Nashville since 1985 and the implosion of the Sam Davis Hotel.
Some of those watching Saturday were tourists. Pat and Mike Smith of Greensboro, North Carolina, say they were forced to either stay inside their hotel or find a safe place to watch.
“8:30 to 10. Lockdown. You have to stay in there or get out,” Mike Smith said. "But we’re glad to be here.”
“We wanted to see the implosion," Pat Smith added.
Many of the other onlookers were Nashville natives, some with wide-eyed kids in tow. And locals had mixed emotions.
For photographer Richard Malone, he says the implosion is another reminder of how much his hometown is changing.
“At first, I was okay with all the new things coming in and all, but now I’m kind of sad to see so much of our town is changing," Malone said. "It’ll never go back to our old town.”
The Nashville Yards multiuse development will erect movie theaters and boutique hotels where Draper Tower once stood. LifeWay, which is the publishing arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, has since built a new headquarters within sight of the original building.