~story and photo by Paige Langenderfer
When Bruce Gould took the position of postmaster in Nashville, he intended to stay for about a year. Today, 33 years later, Gould said Nashville just feels like “home.”
“I can’t imagine living anywhere else,” he said.
Gould served as the Nashville postmaster from 1984 to 2011, retiring after 42 years with the U.S. Postal Service.
“Nashville was my third postmaster position, and at the time I just thought it would be another step on the ladder,” Gould said. “But, I really fell in love with Nashville and the job and am glad I stayed.”
Postmaster work was certainly not easy. Gould worked from 5:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and several hours on Saturdays and Sundays.
“It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed it,” he said. “On Sundays I would deliver Express Mail and I would get to see people and parts of the county I wouldn’t otherwise ever have seen. I was able to develop some really great relationships during those years.”
Gould also took an interest in local government, helping found the Nashville Tree Board and serving on the Nashville Town Council for several years. He also served on the Area Planning Commission and the Nashville Board of Zoning Appeals.
“I’ve always had an interest in how local government works—or doesn’t work,” Gould said.
That interest led to a trip back to college to earn a master’s degree in public management from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis in the early 1990s.
“Looking back, I don’t know how I was able to juggle all of that,” he said.
In 2002, Bruce married his wife, Pam, and started yet another endeavor. Pam owned Cornerstone Inn on Franklin Street, and Bruce took on the role of landscaper and construction man as the two managed the business together.
“We make a really good team,” Bruce said. “I would work all day at the post office and then go to the Inn for the evening to make repairs and renovations.”
Bruce retired from his postmaster position in 2012 and devoted his full attention to working with Pam to grow and expand the business. The couple renovated and began leasing the second floor of the building located at 87 East Main Street, referring to the five new guest rooms as The Upper Rooms. They then purchased 1.2 acres of property directly to the east of the Cornerstone Inn, which was the site of the former Village Motel. While the building was in need of drastic repairs, Bruce made it his mission to save the home of the former Village Motel owner Tudi Kuhn. He was able to renovate the building and it is now available as a guest house.
The couple then bought and renovated a tourist cabin north of town that they refer to as Cabin 360. Again, Bruce did most of the work himself.
“I really enjoy hands-on construction work,” Bruce said. “I sat at a desk in an office for more than 40 years. During the day, I want to be outside working.”
In 2013, Bruce joined the Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and has served as the chairman since 2014. He previously served on the board in the early 1990s and said a lot has changed since his first term.
“The role of visitors’ centers has completely changed,” he said. “People want information on their phones or tablets. They don’t want brochures and they really don’t even want to visit a center. Our role now is to get people the information they want and need through apps and online.”
Since re-joining the board, Bruce said he has noticed an upswing in visitors.
“We have found that the number one influence on attendance is weather, and we have had outstanding weather the last few years,” he said. “Local business owners have also been making upgrades to their properties which has really made a difference. When you have a declining business it reflects on the entire town.”
Bruce said business owners often ask what they can do to encourage customers to return. A study completed in the 1980s showed that the main reason people visit Nashville is because of its geographical location between Indianapolis, Louisville, and Cincinnati.
“That answer didn’t satisfy very many people,” Bruce said. “There is definitely more to the story.”
As a business owner, Bruce often asks his repeat guests what keeps them coming back.
“I asked a missionary from China, who had been here four times, why he comes back,” Bruce said. “He said, ‘I come here for the rest.’”
In fact, rest is often cited as the number one reason Bruce’s guests come back.
“They come here to get away from their lives,” he said. “They come for inspiration and for quiet.”
And those are some of the same reasons that Bruce has stayed in Nashville more than 30 years longer than he expected.