George Jones Museum, Wildhorse Saloon Update After Nashville Blast

The damaged assessment is underway after the massive blast in downtown Nashville early Christmas morning (12-25) that tore through the city’s 2nd Ave. district. The area is home to some of Nashville’s oldest buildings situated on the banks of the Cumberland River, as well as numerous musical landmarks in an area frequented by tourists as part of Nashville’s greater Lower Broadway corridor. This includes The George Jones—a museum, restaurant, and music venue, as well as The Wildhorse Saloon owned by the Grand Ole Opry. BB King’s Blues Club also calls 2nd Ave. home.

The immediate area where the blast occurred has been completely cordoned off as both local, state, and federal authorities continue their investigation, while a curfew extends into the greater downtown Nashville area until Sunday as investigators comb for clues. Though business owners and residents in the area have limited access, we have received some updates from businesses in the area.

Both The George Jones and The Wildhorse Saloon were further south than the immediate blast site in front of an AT&T building that sits just north of Commerce St. on 2nd Ave., and only suffered minor damage compared to other properties.

Saturday morning (12-26), The George Jones gave an update, saying,“Christmas morning brought news that the unimaginable had happened. Thank you all for reaching out with words of encouragement and support for all of the businesses facing another mountain to climb as the result of the explosion in 2nd Ave. We are ok. We have not assessed the full impact of the damage to The George Jones at this time. We got off much better than many others. Continued good thoughts and prayers for all of those impacted by this. We will demonstrate resilience once again!”

Ryman Hospitality, which operates The Wildhorse Saloon, as well as the Ryman Auditorium have also addressed the explosion.

“I want to express our deep concern for the individuals and business owners who have been impacted by the early morning explosion in downtown Nashville. An initial assessment of our downtown properties revealed no damage at the Ryman Auditorium and Ole Red Nashville and minor damage to the Wildhorse Saloon. We do not anticipate any long-term business interruptions due to this incident. The Wildhorse Saloon is currently closed as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. We are in contact with our operator and local authorities and will conduct a full inspection of the Wildhorse Saloon as soon as we are cleared to do so.”

Other businesses did not fare so well. The Melting Pot restaurant was right across the street from the AT&T building, and suffered major damage. The BB King’s Blues Club was also just south of the blast site and has suffered damage, though no specifics have been shared by the owners at this time. Dick’s Last Resort also suffered damage. According to Nashville Mayor John Cooper, about 20 buildings received major damage in the event, and at least 41 buildings have received some damage due to the explosion.

2nd Ave. presents a narrow corridor between buildings that allowed the blast to maximize damage to nearby properties on both sides of the street. Metro Nashville police responded to reports of the RV parked in front of the AT&T building right before 6:00 a.m., as well as reports of gunshots in the area Friday morning. The vehicle was broadcasting that there was a bomb, and warned people to leave the area, and then started a 15-minute countdown. Nashville police began evacuating the area, and called the department’s hazardous devices unit, who was en route to the scene when the explosion happened at about 6:30 a.m.

Witnesses said they first heard rapid gunshots at 4:30 in the morning, and called police. The force of the explosion resulted in a “huge fireball” (see below), knocked one responding officer to the ground, and three other individuals were seriously injured and transported to the hospital. There were also human remains found in the area, but police have yet to be able to identify who it might be.

Most businesses in the area were closed for the Christmas holiday, but multiple apartments and residencies in the area were also affected by the explosion, with residents being shaken out of bed by the blast that took out windows and caused other damage. The event also caused disruption in AT&T service in the area, as well as 911 service, and flights out of BNA Airport in Nashville were halted temporarily due to telecommunications issues.

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