The Southern Turf Building

The Southern Turf building, located at 222 4th Ave North, opened in 1895 and considered one of the most decadent and opulent saloons in Nashville. With marble halls, mahogany furniture, bronze statues, and electric fans, this was the place to go if you were looking for a drink.

Ice Johnson ran the building and even lived on the third floor. However, during WWI, the Southern Turf fell on hard times due to prohibition causing Ice to receive an eviction notice. After living in the building for over twenty years, he wasn’t happy about leaving. When he refused to vacate, the police were sent in to evict Ice. They found him on the floor dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Next to him was a note that said he would rather die than leave the building.

Eventually the building was refurbished and used as office spaces for different companies, including the local newspaper, The Tennessean. Ol’ Ice wasn’t happy about sharing the building with new tenants. People that worked in the building tell stories of items being removed from their office only to turn up in other places in the building. The ghost of Ice Johnson is thought to still occupy the building today and has been spotted in a third story window some nights.

The four-story building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places due to its historic location in Printer’s Alley. It was purchased by Bill Miller in the fall of 2017, who owns many other famous buildings in Nashville like the Skull’s Rainbow Room and the Johnny Cash Museum.

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