Donelson Knights of Columbus convert former church into new hall

The South Nashville KC Club Inc., which owned an operated a clubhouse next to the Nashville International Airport for nearly six decades, is moving to a new location on McGavock Pike in Donelson. The building, a former church, will be home to Knights of Columbus Bishop Richard Pius Miles Council 4972 and the Msgr. Albert Seiner Fourth Degree Assembly 1627. Stephen Watson, left, Grand Knight of Council 4972, and Mike O’Connor, a member of the board for the South Nashville KC Club Inc., stand outside the Club’s new hall. Photo by Andy Telli

For nearly six decades, the Knights of Columbus clubhouse in Donelson was a gathering spot for area Catholics. The clubhouse, located at 2300 Knights of Columbus Blvd. off Briley Parkway, was the site of innumerable fish fries and steak dinners, parochial league football games and soccer games, meetings and social gatherings. Years ago, it also had an Olympic-sized pool that anyone in the community could enjoy.

“It’s been everything,” said Mike O’Connor, a member of the board of the South Nashville KC Club Inc., which owned and operated the property. “We’ve had funerals there and we’ve had weddings there.”

The clubhouse also was home to the Bishop Richard Pius Miles Knights of Columbus Council 4972 and the Msgr. Albert Seiner Fourth Degree Assembly 1627.

Now, the club, which was wedged up against a runway at the Nashville International Airport, is moving to a new location on McGavock Pike across the street from the Two Rivers Mansion. The club sold the property next to the airport to JJA Properties TN LLC, which owns and operates Mercedes-Benz of Music City, located at 734 Envious Lane on the other side of Briley Parkway from the clubhouse. The property was sold for $3.75 million.

The club then purchased the former Family Worship Center and the Calvary Assembly of God building at 3129 McGavock Pike for $1.3 million, O’Connor said, and has begun renovating the building.

The Club and the council had been mulling over the future of the property next to the airport. The pool was closed years ago, the parochial league football games have moved to the high schools, and the use of the fields at the property for soccer games seemed to be winding down, said Stephen Watson, grand knight of Council 4972.

“There were almost 14 acres at that place,” Watson said. “Did it make sense to hold on to 14 acres?”

“It was getting hard to keep up the old building,” said O’Connor, who grew up swimming in the pool at the clubhouse and has been a member of Council 4972 since the mid-1980s.

“As we thought about how that property was being used, did it make sense to do something different going forward,” Watson said.

The airport had expressed an interest in acquiring the property in previous years, O’Connor said. “We did reach out to the airport to see if they were still interested in our property,” he said. “The next day, the car dealer reached out to us and asked if we’d be willing to sell. I said everything’s for sale.”

Although the members of the Club are members of Council 4972, the two organizations are legally separate, and the Council is a tenant of the Club. The Council did not receive any of the proceeds from the sale, Watson said.

After the deal was struck to sell the property to JJA, the Club and council went looking for a new home. The Club board and Council members wanted to hold onto the legacy left by the men who were instrumental in establishing the clubhouse so many years ago, O’Connor said, men like Louis McRedmond, John A. Hobbs, Robert Baltz, John Osborne and others.

They consulted with Father Daniel Steiner, pastor of Holy Rosary Church, where most of the council members are parishioners, Watson said. “We kicked around several options,” including buying land from Holy Rosary and land next to the parish, he added.

They were balancing “what we could afford, what was available, and what would be the best use for Holy Rosary Parish and the needs of the council,” Watson said.

They settled on the McGavock Pike property, which is not as close to Holy Rosary “as we ideally would have wanted,” Watson said, “but property in Donelson is hard to get right now.”

“What we are closer to though are our members,” Watson added. “A lot of members live in those neighborhoods” around the new Bishop Richard Pius Miles Hall.

The new hall is 21,000 square feet, O’Connor said. “It’s double the size of the building we came from.”

Plans call for renovating the building to include a chapel, a meeting room for the council, Fourth Degree assembly, and the club’s board of directors, a commercial kitchen, a dining room, a game room and social area.

“About the only spot that doesn’t need a lot of work is where we’re going to have our council meetings,” Watson said.

The building needs a new roof, windows and paint, O’Connor said. “We’ll probably spend $450,000 to $500,000 renovating it.”

Club representatives will meet with city authorities to make sure all their plans meet city building codes and regulations, O’Connor said. “We’re going to make sure we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

O’Connor hopes the renovations will be completed by the end of June or early July. The Club and council will be able to use the facility before that to host meetings. They also hope to start hosting fish fries and other events before all the renovations are complete.

“One of the things we’re most excited about is it gives us a permanent meeting place for our council and Fourth Degree assembly,” Watson said.

There might also be opportunities for Holy Rosary Parish and Academy to use the facility for events, Watson said. “Our intention is to make it an extension for the parish and the academy to use.”

After paying for the renovations, the club will create an endowment to pay for needed maintenance and upkeep of the building, O’Connor said.

If there is any money left over, the club will evaluate ways it can use it to benefit the community, O’Connor said. “We’re really hoping the nearby Catholic community and Holy Rosary will benefit greatly.”