This Castle in Nashville Is Actually a Recording Studio — and It Has a Crazy History

POPSUGAR Photography | Tara Block
POPSUGAR Photography | Tara Block

I drove past this castle outside of Nashville and did a double take. What in the world was this stone fortress doing out in the middle of nowhere, tucked into the lush greenery and rolling hills of Tennessee? I was so stunned, in fact, that I didn't realize it was the next stop on my itinerary. I was on a Chevrolet-sponsored trip in Nashville, and a part of it included a tour of the aptly named Castle Recording Studios, a place I didn't realize was in an actual castle.

The history of Castle Recording Studios is pretty fascinating. It was built around 1930 by Al Capone as an illegal gambling casino at the halfway point between Chicago and Florida or New Orleans for traveling gangsters. There are even gambling-symbol-shaped rocks incorporated into the walkway that leads to the front of the castle. Whether or not there are bodies buried in the back under the suspicious-looking "headstone," we may never know . . .

After its illicit beginnings, it was used as a restaurant in the '40s, where (according to the studio's website) Bob Hope, Spencer Tracy, and other actors would enjoy meals while they were filming a movie in the area. The Nuyens family, a European bluegrass group, acquired the space in 1979 and founded Castle Recording Studios in 1982. Hundreds of famous musicians from around the world have recorded albums at "The Castle," including pretty much every big name in country music. Today, it's still used by artists who rent the studio to record their albums in an idyllic setting outside the bustling city of Nashville. (There's even a hammock out back for dreaming up song lyrics.)

See inside the Castle now — and get a glimpse of it in action during a recording session with Justin Adams, an up-and-coming country artist.

Can you spot the hidden gambling symbols in the walkway?

Here's a look at the side entrance.

Here's the impressive sound board in the control room for studio A. There are two studios in the Castle, studio A and studio B.

Needless to say, there are guitars everywhere, including on the stairway.

Here's a corner of the studio A tracking room.

This is the piano room.

Frank Rogers (right), a Nashville-based record producer and label executive, was the one who gave us a tour of the Castle. Justin Adams (center) is the artist we were able to watch take a song from a rudimentary, iPhone-recorded draft to a radio-ready recording with the help of Rogers and an insanely talented group of "session musicians" aka the band you are actually listening to on most albums. The process was really impressive to watch — it took less than an hour!

Justin Adams singing in the "stone room," which looks into the studio A tracking room.

Here's the band recording in the studio A tracking room.

The Castle is also available to rent as an event space for weddings, parties, or corporate events, and there's a covered back patio perfect for catered, buffet-style meals. As it is Tennessee, chicken and waffles are a must!

Travel and expenses for the author were provided by Chevrolet for the purpose of writing this story.