Historic United Records Home Will Press On, Without Presses

Jan 13, 2017

The shop floor of the new United Record Pressing plant on Allied Drive.
Credit HAVIGHURST

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CRAIG HAVIGHURST)  --  Reports in December that United Record Pressing is moving entirely out of its 1960s era building to a larger facility, sparked concerns about possibly losing another landmark of Nashville’s music history. But United is promising to preserve and reinvent the space.

Vintage record presses have been humming and hissing away at United’s new 140,000 square foot plant on Allied Drive near the Nashville Zoo for some months now during a transition that is nearly complete.

"We're about to double capacity," says Kendale Rice, United's marketing and business development manager. She says they've been maxed out for years at about 40,000 records per day. Growth, spurred by a years-long surge in demand for vinyl records, also means more employment.

"We're going from a staff that was about 125 and we hope to get to about 200 come summer."

Then, attention can turn to repurposing the company's historic, architecturally unique headquarters in the Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood. The building has been home to United, or its predecessor Southern Plastics, since 1962.

“It has so much potential," says Rice.

The building includes the so-called Motown Suite, an apartment that hosted visiting executives from black owned record labels in the 60s, when Jim Crow laws barred them from most hotels in town. The space today is a living museum.

“We definitely want to do something that honors the history. Maybe it's a cool partnership that has the like mindedness of the love of hospitality and music."

Rice says they're taking their time sifting through ideas.

"We want everyone to know that, rest assured, it's in good hands."