mike wolfe jo johnston

After a year and a half of collaborating with contractors and architects on the restoration of an 1898 building that many people said would just end up as a big pile of bricks, Mike is proud to unveil his latest preservation project!

Located on Jo Johnston Street, minutes from the honky-tonks of downtown Nashville, (and just down the block from Antique Archaeology’s front door) now stands a fully restored two-story brick building, the most recent addition to the vintage Marathon Village community. The space, which in the century before it fell into ruin housed everything from a grocery store to a dancehall to a restaurant, is once again open for business in Nashville.

We will let Mike show you around…

“I approach all these projects the same by trying to learn as much as I can about the building. I wanna know what its purpose was, what time period it stood in, and how it was significant to the community. The buildings I’m tethered to have to be more than historic structures; they also have to be located in historic districts. My home in LeClaire, for example, was built in 1860 as a general store. Even my Antique Archaeology shop is located in an old car manufacturing plant from the 1880s. Along the way, I’ve learned that when it comes to working in/ restoring these you gotta consider how you can honor their history while making it possible for them to succeed in the present.”


“Here’s the street view of the place. I’m standing on the corner of 14th Avenue North and Jo Johnston. If you turn to the right, you can see the Nashville skyline and practically hear the music from Broadway. Anyone who has ever visited Antique Archaeology will quickly recognize the water tower of the Marathon Motor Works building where the shop is. Like I said, this building was constructed in 1898. When you look at the before photos, you’ll see just how little of the structure was still holding on. (Gold leaf window lettering by Canned Pineapple)


“Check out that iron skeleton! You see that up there? That’s supporting the roof and second story.”

Untitled51“The state it was in before was pretty rough, as you can see. It was so bad, it took me a long time to even find a contractor who would take it on. I had a number of them tell me I was gonna end up with a pile of bricks sitting on an empty lot. I wasn’t intimidated, though. I just needed to find the right company to match my passion and determination on the project.” (Dowdle Construction Group and architect Nick Dryden


“We really wanted to make sure we gave the place an open floor plan to accommodate it as a future retail space. With a few modifications, we were able to give it a modern upgrade in a timeless way.”


“These bricks are the storytellers of the space. They’ve been part of the location for more than a hundred years! Salvaging as many of them as possible was a huge priority during this restoration.”

jo-johnston-5 left

“I insisted on leaving the brick walls exposed versus smothered in plaster. It’s a reminder of the many lives this building has had. Almost takes you back in time for a minute and you’re able to imagine this place as the grocery store for the community it once was all those years ago.”


“The interior has a real industrial vibe to it with the concrete floors and iron beams. The additional windows draw lots more natural light inside too.”



“The upstairs area features salvaged wooden floors that give it more warmth – a different feel from the concrete floors downstairs.” (Floors by Garlan Gudger of Southern Accents Architectural Salvage)

“Whether it’s a building in a historically significant part of town, or one that’s traditionally important to the local community, or even one that simply has an interesting story all its own, each one is special. With neglect and rapid development threatening the architecture that makes every city unique, there has never been a better moment to be part of the generation that rescues history. I encourage everyone to join the preservation efforts in their own town in any way they can.”

The current tenant of the Jo Johnston property is Slumerican

Features an arrowhead with a Two Lanes landscape inside it and our “Less People. More Life” moto for back road travel. Reminds us of rolling up to a National Parks sign or our favorite camp tee.  American Made.  SHOP NOW





76 thoughts on “Take A Look Inside Mike’s Nashville Preservation Project”

  1. Murray Dinneen

    WOW!!! What an amazing transformation. From nothing to…. Wickered. Still enjoy the way you can see what something can become when it is sooo bad. AMAZING.

    1. Susie Gillett, Belmont, MI 49306

      Hey Mike this is really lovely, and you should be proud. I watch you and Frank almost every day and you two really complement each other so well. Sure wish we could hear more about your families. I know we are watching re-runs, but they never get old. Take care and be safe with all your climbing around.


      1. Brian Charbonneau

        Hi Mike you are an awesome dude and my lovely bride Lisa and myself are hugh fans. . Frank well I just can’t relate to the guy. .. really think the little guy needs to go the school of cool you went to. . But you and Danny and Dave make the show a 10 in our book. . And we will ditto what alot of folks I’m reading in comments here. Be proud of this project. . And as a retired disabled US Marine Sgt. . Thanks for your support in the show when you come across military objects or when you are picking a veterans place. . Semper Fi….

    2. Doug Cronk

      I’m glad you saved an important part of history.i like how you want to know the buildings background as with other things you buy .you pay homage to the movers & shakers that made America what it is .thank you ,Doug Cronk .Grand gorge NY

  2. Thomas Murphy

    Great job ,I have restored a many buds like what you just took on and ,I know the pain you went through to save our history,Many will never feel that pain ,But what it does to your soul ,and all those that will see what you brought back ,For their souls ,Is what’s its all about . Again my friend .Great Job ! Murphy ,cold spring ,Ky

  3. Jim C.

    great job Mike…you and all those who worked with you to make this building live again, should be commended…in this day and age, it is so important to preserve as much of our history as is possible….keep up the good work.

    1. Sandra Gummin

      We just re-started watching American Pickers when we pulled a bunch of cool stuff out of the families estate. Lots of vintage toys, weather vain, plenty of toilets too! Thought of you when we got a look at Dad’s old Hoffman cycle-German company not in business for long. You can see from the pictures the condition is rusty and without engine. Wonder what you think of it. Any rough figure on what this should fetch at auction ?
      (If you are interested the auction is July 13 and 14, 2018. Near Iron Mountain Michigan, in a little town called Florence, Wisconsin.)

  4. Robert Bierman

    Absolutely amazing restoration. I can’t wait to come to Nashville to visit both stores. Thank you for preserving history and saving the building

  5. Stuart Aitken

    Love your show guy’s. Here in Australia your show is amazing guy’s. I’m a Kiwi living here and can appreciate what you do in saving the history of your country. Will visit your store in the next few years.

  6. Mark Foreman United Kingdom

    You’ve all done a great job on saving and restoring that building! I love a good old brick too, having picked old London bricks and driven them down to darkest Cornwall to build my garden walls (320 miles) A nice mix.
    Keep up the work and my favourite tv program

  7. Patty

    Mike we watch your show all the time. My husband and I are auction collectors and we have found some rare unique items that are priceless. It’s fun and exciting to discover things of long ago. Thank you for your entertainment and perseverance. Your show is great!

  8. Regina Argabrite

    That is fantastic ! I love old buildings . So many are getting torn down. Even my town it is so sad. I’ve watched so many with a lot history behind them get torn down and our city officials have no regrets. Glad to see someone else enjoys the true value of our history.

  9. Mike McKay

    Awesome job Mike! You’re the perfect custodian for this and other amazing, historical ‘Americana’ !
    Keep up the amazing work man, it’s a privilege for me to watch you at work on your TV series, and
    I love receiving your emails! Blessings, Mike from Ireland!

  10. Mark D Beaumont

    Your passion for the people, buildings and objects you find during your journeys is inspiring; just like your passion for restoring this building. Great job. May you achieve sainthood for putting up with Frank!



  11. Jayne Ansberry

    For all the projects you’ve worked on, I’m so happy not only for you but for the communities that this effects in such a positive way. They may take time to get back up & running, but it is so worth it! The Historic Variety Theatre project, (that won The National Trust For Historic Preservation & your “This Place Matters” campaign contest last year), back in Cleveland, Ohio is still taking time but things are at least slowly moving along. Surrounding the theatre are now ready-to-go spaces available for rent that will help in further funding for the theatre’s restoration. Across the street they created more room for parking for the theatre too. You burn inside for the desire to have it all be completed as soon as possible, but nothing worth its weight in gold ever comes easily. You should be proud! What a monumental effort that turned out gloriously! Hats off to you & all those who helped along the way. Hugs.

  12. D

    What a fantastic restoration. One by one, keep your visions going. What a great show you have. The best. You are so blessed to have the ability to see something people just get rid of, or piles of rust and bricks, to repurpose, to restore what once was, keep up the great work. We hope you keep your show going for a long time. You have changed so many people to take a look around, to see what they can do. Kudos, Mike. All of you do a great job.

  13. Ed

    Outstanding results. Kudos to Mr. Wolfe and everyone involved with the project. It only takes one person to make a difference! Mr. Wolfe is doing it. Awesome.

  14. Steve

    Wow, what a treasure. Having lived in the Nashville area for 30 years I recognize this building and the Marathon Village area. What you are doing with the restoration of these buildings is a real gift to Nashville. May your tribe increase.

  15. Elaine Massarelli

    Hi Mike,
    Love your show ! Love your enthusiasm!!!! You and Frank are quite a team

    Beautiful job on that building, I hope to get to Nashville to see it, keep up the GREAT Work

    Best wishes
    Elaine and Ed from Florida (big fans)

  16. Ted McCabe

    You did a great job on the hotel, thank God we have someone that keeps the past. I have something that would look great in the hotel, Google Jacob Mark, I have a sun light catcher made on 1873. Not sure how many of these are left, can sent picture.

  17. barry yanaky

    Great show and a great job restoring the building. It is not unusual to find a hundred year old hamilton railway pocket watch in perfect working order with proper care and this should apply to hundred year old buildings. Great job preserving history.

  18. Anthony Gonzalez

    I’m a bit of a people watcher. The thing that stands out the most to me about you and your team, the one thing I feel makes your show a success story is that it’s not what you do, it’s why you do it. I watched this guy do a whole speech on this. I wish I could remember his name right now but the point is, he was dead on. It is abundantly clear that you all care about why you are doing what you do. It’s the way you do your best to keep the story alive, because the story is the thing. I am born and raised in one of our country’s oldest cities… Alexander Hamilton, Sam Colt, The Great Falls, Silk City, Paterson, New Jersey. I wish I could bring it back. Your passion gives hope!!

  19. Judy Horton

    I am glad you did not give up on the restoration. The building is beautiful and now, once again useful.
    I love watching you and Frank.

  20. George Seguin

    Great job Mike. You are quite the historian. We love your show and would really like to get to Nashville to see your store…..

  21. Gregory T. Tillman

    Mike, Good bless you for the work you do for all of us. Am 66 this year, am riding my motorcycle from Reno to Santa Monica getting on the start of Route 66 and riding to the end at Chicago. You and your show family have inspired me. Be well brother.

  22. Paulette jett

    Two years ago on August 27 a dear friend and I visited your shop in the Marathon building in Nashville. We loved it!!! We made plans to visit your shop in LeClaire immediately. The next day after arriving home in Union City, he was stricken with a massive stroke. After many days in the hospital we found he had a glioblastoma tumor in his brain, which had caused the stroke. Incidentally the same type that John McCain has now. He was given months to live. He wasn’t able to speak, write or walk during those long days. I ordered one of your t-shirts for him and he loved wearing it. My friend was a Vietnam veteran and was a sweet dear man that suffered from PTSD for many years. While he was still at home and later in the nursing home, it was our special time to watch your show and he would smile, and it seemed to bring him some sort of peace in his trial.He passed away a year ago July 2, but I want to thank you for all those moments of joy you brought to him. Thank you!!!!

    1. Jason

      Beautiful tribute. There’s lots to enjoy watching these guys. I’m often bedridden and I get a lot of joy from their show. I’m in Australia so i doubt I’ll ever get a chance to visit any of their shops, but I get a lot out of watching them work. They seem like real decent chaps.

    2. Mike Wolfe

      Thank you for sharing this with me it brought tears to my eyes… it means more then you could ever imagine. God has a plan for us all I feel so blessed he thought that much of what we do…

  23. Raymond White

    The building on 14th Ave and Jo johnston, what a transformation. It might have taken you quite a while but you did find the right contractor. Just amazing. Everyone else seen a pile of bricks but you looked past that and seen what could be. On American Pickers you do the same thing. Frank has a lot of that but you take it to the top.

  24. Pete Engel

    Hi Mike, It’s great to read about your latest building renovation projects and your passion for bringing older, neglected history back to life. We share your passion.

    We are located in the little crossroads of White Post, Virginia – an area in the northern Shenandoah Valley steeped in history, from the Colonial era onwards.White Post is locsted in 2 National Historic Districts and has a lot of history associated with George Washington and the English Lord Fairfax. History surrounds us!

    I’m head of our local 501c3 nonprofit village Association and we were recently presented with an old 1920s Sinclair gas station and an older horse stable/farm store in the middle of the village, at the Post, which are in need of restoration. We have ideas for adaptive reuse of the two buildings for the benefit of the local community. The gas station has a unique “pebbledash” stucco construction which we sre hoping to preserve.

    We would like to show you around next time you get over into the Shenandoah Valley.

    Check out our Facebook page White Post VA village Association. Best wishes for the Holidays.

  25. Dolores & Bob Lybeert

    Your restoration projects are why GOD put you on this planet. GOD Bless your family, friends, Neighbors, anyone helping you accomplish your dreams & many other good friendly people.

    1. Paul Lugai

      First, I agree with Dolores and Bob. Second, I cannot fathom a contractor turning down an exciting project such as this!
      I love all the great stories presented by Mike on this site. Merry Christmas to all!
      God bless,
      Paul E. Lugai

  26. Mark Jones

    Hey, Mike. Wonderful work on the restoration. We love your show here in Canada. Winnipeg is the exact longitudinal centre and I we like when you pick in the northern States. Climax, MN is only a three-hour drive and the next time we head to Fargo for a weekend getaway, we will have to make a detour. Winnipeg’s history is as a central terminus for the railway and grain shipments. Our historic downtown Market Square district has been used for filming in many period movies. Love the old brick and exposed wooden beams! You, Frank and the rest of the posse keep up the good work.

  27. John Thompson

    Absolutely love what you have with this. You guys are genuine it’s a pleasure watching you grow and develops with each episode and post.
    Thank you

  28. Bryan Fields

    Yeah, That straight up looks BAD ASS! Just an amazing restoration on a building everyone else left to crumble. More communitites need to look at preservation. Fantastic Job Mike!!!!!!

  29. Adrian softley

    Great shows both you and Frank have great store of knowledge and the building restorations are just great will try to visit one day Cheers and keep on pickings

  30. Adrian softley

    Great shows both you and Frank have great store of knowledge and the building restorations are just great will try to visit one day Cheers and keep on pickings .
    And of course not to forget Danny d keep those leads coming girl.

  31. Joe and Cindy Keerns

    mike, WOW what a restoration !!!!!!!! We watch you and Frankie all the time. There are times, I wish I could go out with you two… Keep doing a great job.


    I used to ride my Bicycle down the alleys because that was the true adventure, ha I was a Picker at 10. If ever I would have thought a person could actually make a living at it I would have been that guy. Love your show I am reliving my coulda, woulda, shoulda life through Mike and Frank……Dani D is just the icing on top ……….retired in the Philippines

    Frank and Haidee De Priest and the 4 legged boys Buddie our Yorkie and grunt and snort Buster the French Bulldog

  33. Jeff Ticich

    I watch your show every time it’s on television!!!! My very favorite t.v. show! Thank you for preserving America, more people should jump on the band wagon and start helping preserve America!!!! I want to visit your stores and hopefully, get to meet everybody on the show! I used to live in Leslie, Arkansas, very small town with alot of history and , you will find alot of old items of interest to you guys!!! You all should pay Leslie, Arkansas a visit, if you guys are ever freestyling in that part of Arkansas, it would be well worth your time!!! I know that you all will find alot of things of interest!!!!

  34. Jeffrey R. Ticich

    Love your show , I watch your show every chance I get! Thank you all so very very much for helping preserve America!!! Your show makes me very happy and when I’m down and out , your show cheers me up tremendously! I can”t thank everybody on the show enough!!! Keep up the great work!! Thanks again!!!!

  35. Steve Keane

    Mike, Great job on what you are doing. Loved the restoration. Maybe I’m reaching the time in my life when I can appreciate it more. I have an old friend, out in Colorado Springs and we go back all the way to the sandbox . We grew up in the 40’s and 50’s. We often discuss how we grew up in the best of times and didn’t even know it at the time. There is an old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.” Thank you teacher. Every once in awhile I make a motorcycle trip from Arkansas up to North Central Ill. When I do I usually stop at the store in LeClaire. Mike was nice enough to pose for a picture with me and a couple of my friends. Still got the picture. I have stopped there many times but this was the first time any of the main characters were there. The whole crew was there! You all were doing some kind of photo shoot in the main store. We caught up with Mike in the building next door. He was “working” the crowd and spending time with the kids and autographing their stuff. He really seemed to be enjoying it and the kids were having a blast . Good stuff Mike. Keep on keeping on. 🙂 sk

  36. Isabel

    Actually this comment is directed to the person that praised Mike in regard to his personality on the show and
    then referring to Frank as ‘ the little guy needs to go ‘ his words not mine .
    Frank and Mike pair well and I believe that would be the major consensus IF there were one .
    The pickers , other team members , and those who appraise and or restore finds do a fantastic job which gives the show its popularity to those of us who enjoy the many treasures uncovered from past days the history and information/ knowledge shared is appreciated to us the viewers .
    Happy Picking !

  37. Sean

    Great preservation job, i wish there were more people who had the passion and vision to take a look around and see what a rich wealth of architecture we have. Sean, Dorchester, UK.

  38. hikergirl12086

    Just for the record, I love Frank. And the two of you together make the show…and because of seeing your show years ago, I’ve actually had dreams about pickin’. Maybe one day, but there’s no time like the present. Glad you’re able to capitalize.

  39. Sandra I Suro

    Mike Wolfe has a creative mind and great taste!!!! i especially love how he puts “old” things to use again and gives them a new life. Its sentimental actually…Love you Pickers!!

  40. Anthony Cook

    Not sure why I watch or like this show but I do – every night it’s on. I have a burning desire to travel to the States and visit the store one day, just so I can confirm they actually use and resell all those things they buy, most of which seem to me like mouldy old junk that I’d be happy to get rid of for free – even help em load it in their van. But that’s just my lack of picker imagination I guess.
    Sadly I won’t get the chance to visit the States again, our government here in Australia has made it clear no ones going to be travelling overseas from or to here unless they get vaccinated for the covid virus so that leaves me out. I feel greatly blessed to have made it to your shores in 1985 and met many Americans, I guess I’m going to have to make do with that memorable experience, at least in this lifetime.
    PS – I like the boys Mike and Frank but my favourite in the show is Danielle, she’s gorgeous. Maybe I WILL get that covid shot one day…

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