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VOL. 39 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 7, 2015

Party in style at Schermerhorn, Hall of Fame, other top Nashville venues

By Hollie Deese

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Aerial, 411 Broadway, shares ownership with Pinewood Social, The Catbird Seat, The Patterson House, Merchants and Paradise Park.

-- Courtesy Of Strategic Hospitality

When showing off Nashville to business associates, family and friends, doing so at a swanky location with some Music City cache is sure to hammer home exactly why everyone wants to be here right now.

And if you really want to impress, why not start with the 30,000-square-foot Schermerhorn Symphony Center? Evening rentals of the hall start at $7,000, while exclusive full-day use of the entire building begins at $15,500.

“The Laura Turner Concert Hall room rental includes the Main Lobby, West Lobby and Garden Courtyard,” says Johnathon McGee, senior event sales manager. Perfect for cocktails in the courtyard and mingling in the lobby. Throw in some of the symphony musicians – and some off-duty police – and you’ve got the makings of an enchanted evening.

There is no longer an internal food department at the Schermerhorn, but the expansive on-site kitchen is open to caterers from Bacon and Caviar, The Southern Steak & Oyster, Clean Plate Club and more local services to come in and work their magic.

“They are some of the best in Nashville, so that gives our clients an option to be able to have some control over the type of food and who they want to work with,” McGee says.

Food is a very big deal for venues, with people expecting the best of the best, says Lindsay Rothrock, sales and marketing manager and event specialist with Infinity Events and Catering, which includes the Bridge Building at the east end of the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge spanning the Cumberland, the Bell Tower, a converted church at 400 4th Ave. S., 12th & Porter and The Harding House.

But while food is the backbone of their business, Rothrock says, Infinity’s venues are all about the atmosphere.

“At the Bridge Building, we have the amazing views of downtown, and that really speaks for itself a lot of the times,” Rothrock says. “A lot of the people, whether they are corporate or have people coming in from out of town, they love that atmosphere. They get to see the city and show off Nashville to the people they are catering, too.

“They see all the construction and everything happening, and they have really amped up the green space on both sides of the building.”

The Bridge Building has been hosting events for two and a-half years, and the Bell Tower will ring in a full year of events on Nov. 1. Rothrock says bookings come in waves throughout the year, with spring and fall buzzing with weddings. Corporate business is steadier.

“There are always conventions coming to town, and holiday parties are also a big time for us with corporate events,” she says. “We have had a pretty good mixture of larger companies and smaller companies.

“Sometimes you think of the bigger ones in town throwing the big lavish parties, but we have had even a couple companies of 40-60 people who book out whether it is a dinner or cocktails or just a get together.”

Even a simple event can be pricey, and Rothrock says there’s no limit to what people could spend to pull off a good party.

“There is a venue rental which secures your date and includes a certain amount of tables and chairs,” she says.

“After that we are very much a one-stop shop. Both of our spaces are very unique, very historical, so we do a lot more lighting rather than décor. Food, lighting, cool furniture and alcohol are probably the biggest places where we see people do different things and really go over the top.”

The Infinity Room at The Bridge Building, for example, goes for $7,000 on a Saturday night, with an event party package for 50 starting at $8,500. Want 300 people there? That number goes up to nearly $30,000.

“It’s fun when you have people with a little bit bigger budget, and you have the room to play and do different things,” she says. “Both venues are very unique spaces with a lot of historical value.

“You are showcasing Nashville to your guest, whether they are from out of town or from here. And with Nashville having such a personality right now, our venues have the personality that goes along with that.”

Here’s a look at some of Nashville’s premier party venues:

Aerial

411 Broadway

615-251-9882

www.aerialnashville.com

A private rooftop location right downtown? Yes please. Practically right on top of Broadway’s neon lights – but a civilized distance from the rowdy revelers below – Aerial is the kind of space that can be transformed to meet the needs of any occasion.

Owned by Strategic Hospitality (Pinewood Social, The Catbird Seat), and with the city skyline as a backdrop, the location has become one of those go-to spots for special occasions. There is a 2,000-square-foot glass room, which is then surrounded by another 2,000 square-feet of patio, and then a full bar to anchor the space. Saturday venue rental starts at $2,150, April through October.

The Bridge Building

2 Victory Ave.

615-216-7165

www.thebridgebuilding.com

Built in 1908 on the east bank of the Cumberland as office space for the Nashville Bridge Company, this renovated venue combines modern amenities, old school charm, interesting architecture and a killer view. Various parts of the building are available for rent, the most impressive being the Observatory, which includes the top floor and rooftop patio, or they can opt to have the whole building.

And since it is right downtown, it is the perfect way to show off Nashville to out-of-town visitors, or even natives who have never seen Music City from this angle.

Schermerhorn Symphony Hall

One Symphony Place

615-687-6500

Nashvillesymphony.org

Really want to make a statement? The 30,000-square-foot Schermerhorn Symphony Center rents evenings for $7,000, or all day for $15,500.

-- Courtesy Of Schermerhorn Symphony Center

It’s hard not to be in awe of the neoclassical architecture of the Schermerhorn during a performance, so just think about the looks on your guests’ faces when they are strolling among the marble columns with a drink in their hand at your invite.

There is a variety of flexible meeting spaces on site for board meetings or conferences, but the venue really shines when it’s the site of a celebration.

The Laura Turner Concert Hall can be transformed with lighting and décor for any special occasion, and they even supply the alcohol, sound engineer, ushers and more of anything that will help make the event go smooth.

The Bell Tower

400 4th Ave. S.

615-369-6474

www.thebelltower.com

Don’t let the fact you are partying in a renovated church hold you back from having a good time at the not-quite-year-old renovated event space. Dating back to 1874, the building was the first church built in Nashville by freed slaves after the Civil War, and part of the original sub-flooring is made of salvaged wood from homes destroyed during the war.

After functioning as a St. Paul’s AME church until the late 60s, it has also at various times throughout the years been a night club, warehouse, and the EOA Architecture offices.

Now it has been fully transformed for the ultimate party, with a full, on-site kitchen and a space that can accommodate 700 people for a cocktail party. Rental rates on a Saturday start at $7,000, and package rates for 100 guests at a dinner start at $15,000.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

222 5th Ave. S.

615-416-2001

www.countrymusichalloffame.org

Renting the Country Music Hall of Fame is a sure way to impress out-of-town guests.

-- Courtesy Of The Country Music Hall Of Fame

Ready to blow your guests’ minds? Rent out the totally breathtaking Country Music Hall of Fame for impressive architecture, a downtown feel and access to some of the most incredible artifacts from Music City’s past. An on-site catering team can create Southern fare perfect for everything from a bridal party brunch to a full-blown sit down meal.

The 10,000-square-foot event hall can fit 1,200 of your closest friends, but for something a little more intimate, opt for the 5,600-square-foot HCA Lobby, the 6,000-square-foot outdoor Carlton Terrace or even the 758-square-foot City National Bank private dining room.

The Frist Center for the Visual Arts

919 Broadway

615-244-3340

www.fristcenter.org

Looking for something upscale, impressive and easy to find? The Frist is it.

Located downtown just a bit above the fray, the museum is a great option with many different rental options with rates that start around $2,500 during public hours, but go up from there once the doors close.

If price is no object, opt for the run of the house with access for you and your closest 2,500 friends to the Grand Lobby, Auditorium, Rechter Room and Turner Courtyard.

Prices start at $10,000 for that option, but add-ons can make the event totally memorable, and over-the-top.

Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art

1200 Forrest Park Drive

615-356-8000

www.cheekwood.org

For something a bit more rustic than downtown venues with city views, head to the outskirts of town for the wilds of Cheekwood.

With many different spaces to use and choose from – inside and out – there is a space sure to be just right.

The Museum of Art itself, a 1920s Georgian-style mansion, is ideal for small, seated dinners among the paintings and decorative arts in the former home of Leslie and Mabel Cheek.

Rental of the Museum includes use of the Swan Lawn. For something a bit more versatile, Massey Hall, starting at $3,500, and its adjoining terraces should do the trick.

More intimate? Try the Japanese Garden for $1,300 to start.

Ruby

2411 Blakemore Ave.

615-512-5751

www.rubynashville.com

Ruby, across Blakemore from Vanderbilt University, is another church converted to party space.

-- Photo Courtesy Of Ruby And Justin Wright, Www.Justinwrightphoto.Com

A boutique event space that was once home to the Blakemore Primitive Baptist Church, the space opened in 2011 after some major renovation that preserved the original wood ceilings, metal trusses, brick exterior, hardwood floors and more.

The outdoor space available for use during events brings the pretty, with hinoki cypresses and dragon’s eye pines.

On-site coordinators offer help well before the event as well as the day of, but it is the use of space that truly impresses. The perfect example of infill, the space won the Urban Land Institute Nashville’s Design Award of Excellence in 2012. Evening rental rates start around $3,000, with coordination, planning available.

aVenue

120 3rd Ave. S.

615-497-6802

www.nashvilleeventspace.com

aVenue features more than 15,000 square feet of party space, with stage. It is located steps away from the Seigenthaler Pedestrial Bridge.

-- Courtesy Of Nashville Event Space

Built in 1890, the downtown building has had many uses over the years including a machine repair facility, antiques showroom and furniture warehouse.

Rental includes access to two floors and a loft for more than 15,000-square-feet of usable space.

A built-in stage is perfect for live entertainment – think music industry insider events – and the blank space can be transformed to accommodate any vision.Saturday nights are available for $4,285, venue only.

OZ Arts

6172 Cockrill Bend Circle

615-350-7200

www.ozartsnashville.org

Head out to West Nashville for a contemporary event hosted in the former home of CAO Cigars. Still owned by the Ozgener family, OZ features five unique spaces, from the dramatic Ultra Lounge Patio with retractable glass doors and expansive fire pit area, to the foliage-filled Zen Garden.

And thanks to its former purpose, cigar fans will love that OZ is home to one of the world’s largest walk-in humidors, The Escaparate, which once was home to more than 100,000 premium cigars. The 9,000 square-foot Grand Salon can accommodate up to 850 people.

Prices start at $3300-$5500, depending on the space booked.

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