For the 10, 322 people that move to Nashville every day, it is just a big building, as plain as any skyscraper you could possibly imagine. (I know it is not that many people but it sure seems like that many.)

The official name of the building is William R. Snodgrass Tennessee Tower.  It houses a bunch of government offices and the such.



As a kid growing up in Nashville, it will always be to me, the building that made you feel good.

As I drive home from work 5 times a week, always at night, I pass right through downtown Nashville and every time I look over at the Tennessee Tower, I don’t see dark structure, lost amidst the ever growing skyline.

I become a kid again and see this.



(Courtesy of Brent Moore)

For those who don’t know, the tower would put a message on the building that would resonate in some way or another.  It just made you feel really nice inside.  As a kid, I would always get mesmerized on how they got the message to come out like that.  What lights needed to be turned on, what lights needed to left off, what did they try that never fit, was it one guy who went in all the offices and turned the lights on and off, and so forth.

Then one day, we find out, no more messages.   Crushed.  Absolutely crushed.  The lights on the Tennessee Tower were as much of my childhood as just about anything else in Nashville.  I don’t care the reasons they had to stop, all I know is that they had to.

I have searched high and low for more pictures from the tower with incredible messages but alas, I have found none.

Perhaps that is OK, because I have most of them tucked away in a far deep corner of my heart and when I drive home every night, I still see them on the building.

And, it always takes me back.




  1. Charles Levy February 26, 2018 12:38 pm  Reply

    Big Joe,
    It’s my understanding that someone mapped out the message using graph paper. Then the plan was given to the cleaning crew, who closed blinds in the appropriate windows to create the message. The building originally was the National Life and Accident Insurance Comapny. Later, the company was acquired by American General. When they moved to Brentwood, the State of Tennessee took over and it became the Tennessee Tower.

  2. Stephen Haley February 26, 2018 1:10 pm  Reply

    Mom used to work there when it was American General Insurance. I too have the same nostalgia as you do Joe. I will always remember finding out the magic of the messages and how they did it. I always look, in hope that once again, those messages appear on the Tower.

    • Joe Dubin March 7, 2018 11:29 pm  Reply

      Maybe one day…maybe..

  3. Elaine February 26, 2018 5:49 pm  Reply

    Gone with the Centennial Park nativity scene…such a shame. Remember it well

  4. Kathy Burris February 27, 2018 12:51 am  Reply

    As a teenager/young adult driving to Nashville from Franklin, Ky, I was always excited to see the lights of this building….as a kid it was magical to see the lights lit with a message for everyone passing by! Great memories….thanks for reminding ding me of them!

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