Nashville’s 100-year-old Morris Memorial building sells for $6M

Buyer is LLC linked to Samaroo Group

Nashville’s Morris Memorial Building Sells for $6M
Morris Memorial building in Nashville with Samaroo Group's Michael Winarski (Samaroo Group, Wikipedia/Andrew Jameson)

A historic building in downtown Nashville has changed hands for the first time in over a century.

An LLC linked to Michael Winarski, who is the chief construction officer at Madison, Tennessee-based development firm Samaroo Group, paid $6 million for the Morris Memorial building at 330 Charlotte Avenue, the Nashville Business Journal reported. A $6.17 million loan from Virtue Private Client LLC financed the acquisition.

The seller was National Baptist Convention USA, which had owned the property since 1922.

The price works out to about $92 per square foot for the building, which spans about 65,000 square feet, according to Commercial Cafe.

The four-story Morris Memorial building is one of the last remnants of Nashville’s once-vibrant Black business district. 

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There have been a few other attempts to buy the property. Nashville-based hotel developer Imagine Hospitality was under contract to buy the building last month. In July, the Metro Human Rights Commission started a fundraising campaign, with hopes of turning the Morris Memorial into a Civil Rights museum.

Former Nashville mayors Megan Barry and David Briley, as well as private investors, had also explored purchasing the property. Briley even signed an option to buy the building for $13 million, but his successor, John Cooper, let the option expire at the start of 2020 due to budget constraints, the outlet reported.

The building was once the site of Dabbs & Porter, which was the city’s largest trader of enslaved people. The National Baptist Convention later commissioned the building, designed by renowned architecture firm McKissack & McKissack. Over the years, it housed various Black businesses, including two Black-owned banks, contributing to Nashville’s vibrant cultural and economic landscape.

The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the mid-1980s.

—Quinn Donoghue 

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