The Daily Pulse:

Another UT Demolition/Renovation, at 17th Street

On the very same block as the Sophronia Strong demolition, some of us, including me, were surprised at what appeared to be a demolition of a set of early 1940s commercial buildings at Cumberland and 17th Street.

It hasn't been much discussed. They're not nearly as distinguished to look at as Sophronia Strong Hall was.

And maybe demolition is overstating it; UT considers it a renovation. It looks like they're just removing the brick, and keeping the steel frame and roof.

Over the years, that cluster has housed a Cole Drugstore, a barber shop I used to go to when I was a college kid--one of those places that were lined with framed black-and-white photos of football stars--and, among other things, an especially notable record store.

I mentioned that building in Secret History a few months ago, on the occasion of the death of Phil Everly. The arcade on the east side of the building was the home of World War II veteran Douglas Dunlap's iconic store, Campus Record Store--soon better known as Dugout Doug's, where about 60 years ago the Everly Brothers discovered Bo Diddley, via a record that not every record store carried. The Everlys weren't college boys, but knew the record store because it was near their father's barber shop.

It was plausibly the moment that got the brothers interested in a new form of music called rock'n'roll. And more specifically, in some of Mr. Diddley's guitar riffs.

There aren't many places that actually played a role in the development of the actual musical form. I think that's an association worthy of a shrine of some sort. 

According to UT spokesperson Karen Ann Simsen, the university, which recently acquired the building, "We are renovating them to have two franchise eateries (through Dining Services) and an apparel store (through the Vol Shop - formerly the UT Bookstore)."

Whether UT's current project is a renovation or a demolition may be a matter or philosophical interpretation. In another century, removing the brick would be removing the building itself. In any case, that 70-year-old arcade that marked where Dugout Doug's was is already gone, undiscernible as an arcade, but still under the existing roof. Maybe the new project will dig it out somehow.

UT's long-term plans call for demolishing the building altogether, but Simsen says that  may be 20-25 years from now.

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