News Articles

Former LifeWay campus icon to be imploded Jan. 6

NASHVILLE (BP) — Implosion of a cross-emblazoned, 12-story tower on the former campus of LifeWay Christian Resources is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday (Jan. 6) in downtown Nashville.

Nashville’s first major implosion in more than 30 years, the Draper Tower is being cleared as part of a mixed-use redevelopment including a hotel, restaurants and apartments on LifeWay’s former property. The campus was sold in 2015 for $125 million and encompassed nine buildings with more than 1 million square feet.

Baptist Press plans to publish photographs and video of the demolition Jan. 8. Some 600 pounds of explosives are set to detonate over about seven seconds, leaving rubble piled 60 feet high, according to The Tennessean newspaper.

Former LifeWay President Jimmy Draper shared his thoughts on destruction of the tower named for him, noting the ministry of LifeWay is about people, not a building.

“Some wonderful things occurred within those walls,” Draper told BP in written comments. “However, that building never helped a church in its ministry, nor any person in their devotion to the Lord. It never designed a budget or a building for a church, nor provided a single piece of Bible study curriculum or a single piece of discipleship material…. It never won a single soul to faith in Christ.

“But the people who have served in these buildings have done all that and infinitely more,” Draper said. “Individuals come and go, but all who serve or have served here comprise the essence and the strength of LifeWay. The stones, steel and mortar of that building were lifeless materials. The only thing that made that building sacred and distinct from other buildings is the extraordinary people who ministered there and still do in another place.”

LifeWay’s corporate headquarters moved in November 2017 to a 277,000-square-foot facility about a half-mile away.

Draper Tower’s destruction will require road and building closures within a 700-foot radius, which includes the Southern Baptist Convention Building. As a precaution, the SBC Building will shut down all its computer servers during the implosion, taking the BP and SBC.net websites offline temporarily.

As part of the redevelopment of LifeWay’s former campus, groundbreaking on a new 23-story Hyatt Regency hotel is scheduled to coincide with Saturday’s implosion, according to media reports. That hotel will sit on the former location of a LifeWay Christian Store, which already has been demolished.

LifeWay President and CEO Thom Rainer told BP the organization is “thankful for the many years of ministry at our former campus.”

“God has worked in that place,” Rainer said in written comments, “but God is not limited to a place. LifeWay has served the church obediently for 126 years, and the future is in front of us. As we remember our past, we move toward the future with anticipation and excitement.”

LifeWay’s Sullivan Tower, also on the former campus, is scheduled for demolition later this year.