Saturday, July 21, 2018

Nashville Businesses

This is a listing of Nashville area businesses (excluding restaurants) that were around in 1950 or before and are still in operation in Nashville/Davidson County. If the business has a website, click the company name to go to the site. If there is an online history, the link will be provided. If there is no history, I will do some research and add it as time permits. Many were suggested to me by facebook readers. I have a lot more businesses to include and will do so in a later post. The businesses are not in any particular order. Just scroll through to read.

Floral Companies.

Emma’s Flowers. Emma Schneider was employed by Harrison Bros. Florist in Nashville in 1933 as a bookkeeper. During her years at Harrison Bros., Emma was a member of several on groups. These included the Retail Credit Association and the Business and Professional Women's Club. When these group held meetings, Emma was often in charge of decorations and flowers.  In May of 1940, Emma opened her own flower shop at 6th and Union on the ground floor of the Hermitage Hotel. When Emma died in December of 1947, Nashville businessman, J. H. Tidman, purchased Emma's Flowers and moved the business to 2410 West End.  Mr. Tidman passed away in 1987, and the operation of the flower shop was continued by his son, J. H. Tidman Jr.  Rebecca Tidman, granddaughter of Tidman, Sr. eventually took over management of the shop. Emma's is still in business today at 2410 West End. 

Emmas Flower Shop, Tennessean, May 11, 1940.

Joy's Flowers. The Joy family came to Nashville in 1877. Thomas Joy leased five acres of land and planted a garden. He sold his flowers at the Nashville Market House on the public square. It was in 1882, that Thomas S. Joy and Thomas C. Joy bought land on what is now Lischey Avenue. The Joy family lived on this property and grew their business here. They acquired additional land as the company expanded. The company, though no longer owned by the Joy family, has continued in business in Nashville.  Click for a more complete history of Joy's Flowers. 

Geny's Flowers and Bridal Geny's may be the oldest floral company to survive. Brothers Leon and John B. Geny came to the U.S. from France and settled in Nashville. John B. Geny was married in Nashville in 1869 and Leon was married here in 1877. The Geny brothers were listed as gardeners and were members of the Tennessee Horticulture Association in the late 1860's. At semi-annual fairs, the Geny's exhibited both vegetables and flowers. John B. Geny was first listed in a city directory in 1874 as a florist. For a few years, the brothers had stalls in the market house on the public square where they sold vegetables and flowers. John B. died in 1887 and Leon in 1878. Their widows continued selling at the market house. Leon has only been married a few months when he died and had no children. By the time of John B. death, his sons were old enough to help their mother in her business. Geny's is still in business in Nashville and is operated by John Geny. 
Hody's Florist   Flowers by Louis Hody was opened for business in 1950 by Robbie Hody. Louis Hody was a nurseryman for Joy Flowers and for Harrison Bros. Florist. The business was located on West Hamilton Road. In 1978, John Ingram became a co-owner. The business is now owned by Bill Hitt who was selected by Mrs. Hody and John Ingram to take over the business. Click for a more complete history of Hody's Florist.  

Other businesses in operation 1950 or before and are still in operation in Nashville/Davidson County.


Hosse & Hosse Lock and Safe Company.  Click here to read a history of Hosse & Hosse 

Warren Paint & Color Co.  The Warren Paint and Color Company was incorporated in 1909 by Joseph M. Warren, Sr. and Joseph M. Warren, Jr.  Joseph Sr. had previously been associated with Warren Bros. in partnership with his brother Jesse Warren. The company operated a large factory in Nashville.  In 1925 Warren Paint could manufacture 6500 gallons of paint and 1,100 gallons of varnish a day. The family sold the business in 1965. Today it is owned by the Smythe family and Jeff Smythe is president.

Warren Paint and Color Company. Tennessean, June 7, 1925
Warren Bros. Sash & Door started as a  business in 1853. Brothers and partners Jesse Warren and Joseph M. Warren were the founders.   Click here for a history of Warren Bros. Sash and Door.

Dury's. The Dury name has been known in Nashville since about 1850. George Dury came from Bavaria and settled in Nashville about 1850. He taught art at the Nashville Female Academy and was well known as a landscape and portrait painter. His son opened the well known Dury's Photographic Supply and Camera stores in Nashville in 1882. The Dury family sold the business in 1968 to Mr. Warren T. York, who retained the historic business name. Click here for more history of Dury's.

Duke Signs - The Sign Shop was opened in 1917 by Charlie Black. Elmer Duke went to work for Mr. Black around 1918 and in 1923 Duke purchased the business. The shop is located today at 932 So. Douglas Ave. David Duke, a grandson of Elmer, operates the business today.


Cummings Signs was opened in Nashville in 1943 by founder Thomas L. Cummings, Jr. The company is still located in Nashville, as well as Knoxville, Dothan Alabama and Colton California. Click here for more history of Cummings Signs. 


Davis Cabinet Company. This furniture maker, dating back to 1929,  is known in Nashville and around the country for creating quality and beautiful wood furniture. Click to read about the history Davis Cabinet Company.


Purity Dairies products have been a favorite for Nashvillians for over 90 years. Now owned by Dean Foods the company is still headquartered in Nashville.  Click to read about the history of Purity Dairies.

Purity Milk Truck, from the company website.


Standard Candy Company is best known for Goo Goo Clusters. King Leo stick candy is another well-loved product. From 1901 through 2017 Standard Candy has been headquartered in Nashville. Known today as the Standard Functional Foods Group the company is owned by the Spradley family. Click here for a great history Standard Candy Company.


Ambrose Printing Company traces its roots to 1865 in Nashville.  In 2017 the company is still owned by the Ambrose family. Click here to read a brief history of Ambrose Printing. 


Methodist Publishing House. In 1854 Nashville was chosen as the site to build a new publishing house for the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Methodist Publishing has had a presence in Nashville since it opened in 1855.  Click here to see photos and read a history of the Methodist Publishing House.

Methodist Publishing House, 1957.


Mack Pest Control. C.C. (Mack) McKelvey started his business in 1944. The company was incorporated in 1952. Click here to read a history of Mack Pest Control. 


Lipman Brothers is the oldest wholesale liquor distributor in Tennessee. Brothers Harry and Meyer Lipman started the business at 206  2nd Ave. South, in 1939. Click to read a history of Lipman Brothers. 


Vietti Foods. The company's website indicates that Vietti chili started out in Nashville in 1898. The research did not place the Vietti family in Nashville until about 1935.  In 1936, Vietti Foods was incorporated in Nashville. Peter C. Vietti headed up the company, which was formed to can food, which included chili. In 2017, Vietti Foods had a canning plant on Southgate Ave. in Nashville.


George P. Howell, realtor, and auctioneer in Madison, Tennessee, went into business under his own name in 1945. In 1946, he added, "And Son." The son was William "Billy" Hugh Howell. Mr. Howell died in September of 1958 and his son Billy took over operation of the company. Billy brought his sons Hugh and Gwynn into the company, in the 1970's.

George P. Howell and Sons Realty. Image from Google, 2011.


Draper Jewelry has been in Nashville since 1944. In that year Robert Draper became a partner in Reale Jewelers, located on Church Street in downtown Nashville. Click here to read more about Draper Jewelry. 


The Cedar Place. This company started in 1944 with a different purpose. It was the V. A. Tayntor Company in the beginning. By 1952, Mr. Tayntor was offering for sale, chests, picnic tables, lawn chairs and mailbox stands all built of cedar wood. Click here to read the history of The Cedar Place.


Nashville Trunk and Bag has a long history in Nashville. Charles Weakley opened the business in 1908, under the name Nashville Trunk and Manufacturing Company. He did very well until the Great Depression. In 1932, Mr. Weakley filed for bankruptcy. Emanuel "Manny" Feldman bought the company from bankruptcy court for 500, according to his grandson, Ted. In 1934, the Feldman family chartered a company under the same name, Nashville Trunk and Manufacturing Company. Financially backed by Emanuel Feldman, the incorporators were Daisy Feldman wife of Emanuel, Buford Feldman son of Emanuel, and Roselind Feldman wife of Buford. The company was called Nashville Trunk and Bag and Daisy was listed as President. Eventually, Buford and his brother Albert Feldman headed the company. In 1956, Buford left the company to start his own business. Albert continued to operate Nashville Trunk and Bag. Albert died in 1979 and his son Tim took over.  Tim was killed just two years later in a car accident. In 1981 Ted Feldman, twin brother of Tim became president of the company.  Ted stayed with the business until 1992, when he sold to Robert Scruggs and Robert Whisenant. In 2017 Nashville Trunk and Bag are still operating on a smaller scale. The store is located in Green Hills and is owned by Susan Cavender. Ms. Cavender worked for the Feldman family. She continued with the business after it was sold to Scruggs and Whisenant. About ten years ago Ms. Cavender purchased the company from the owners and operates the remaining location in Green Hills.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hadley Park

The question of the hour is who is Hadley Park named for? That question has gone unanswered for more 100 years. I am not sure it can be determined. I have my own ideas about how it was named. In the end, though, my opinion is just more conjecture. However, you can be certain the park was not named for John L. Hadley. He owned no land there. I don't know how his name ever got in the mix. The historical marker at the park gives John L. Hadley's name. In 1984 Hadley Park Tennis Center sponsored the John L. Hadley Tennis Classic. I cannot find any explanation as to why they did this. In 1991, a Tennessean writer stated that the park was named for John L. Hadley who donated the land for the park from his plantation. There is no earlier association with the name John L. Hadley and Hadley Park to be found. I can only guess that some person, curious about who the park was named for found the name of John L. Hadley and it stuck.

Hadley Park, image from

The property where Hadley Park is located was purchased in January 1837 by William Hadley. Hadley was at one time, Mayor of Gallatin, Tennessee. Around 1836, William Hadley moved to Nashville, having been recently widowed. In 1837 he purchased from John Nichol, 178 acres of land situated where Hadley Park is located today. His neighbors, mentioned in the deed were Matthew Barrow, Beal Bosley, and Boyd McNairy. In 1838, Hadley married for a second time to Mary Hull Barry. In 1840, Mary gave birth to a daughter, who was also named Mary. While little Mary was just a toddler, her father died in 1842. William Hadley left his all of his property to his wife and his daughter. He made a provision for his slaves to be emancipated if his daughter should not attain the age of 15.

Mary lived to adulthood and 1860 census records show that she owned 15 slaves. In 1860 she was living on the farm she had inherited from her father, with her mother Mary Barry Brown and stepfather John Lucien Brown. In 1864 Mary married to William Clare. Before her marriage, she had a prenuptial contract drawn up to keep her property separate from her husband. In the contract, she estimated the property left to her by her father William Hadley had a value of $100,000. She and her husband lived together in the house that Mary had inherited. It was near and south of Jefferson Street. An 1871 map shows the location of the Clare family and a footprint of their house.

Location of Mary Hadley Clare property in 1871.  Library of Congress

After the death of her husband, William Clare in 1870, Mary attempted to rent the house. Eventually, she moved into town. In 1887 Mary Hadley Clare and her mother, Mary Brown sold the house and property to Walter Stokes. The language used in the deed mirrored that of the deed from 1837 of her father's purchase from John Nichol. The house changed hand several times and in 1904 Mrs. Roberta Harding, wife of John Harding, Jr. bought the house and 34 acres. The Hardings placed the property in the hands of a trustee, P. D. Houston in 1911. Houston transferred the tract to Realty Savings Bank and Trust who in turn sold the property to the Board of Parks on June 11, 1912. Hadley Park was dedicated on July 4, 1912.

Nashville Globe, July 12, 1912, shared with me by Sherrie Davids

William Hadley had been dead for seventy years when Hadley Park was created. It would have not made sense to name the park for a person that few people living could remember. Mary Hadley Clare had died a few years before and would have had no input on the naming of the park. Dr. W. A. Hadley may have well been a slave of Mary Hadley Clare, but he was born 10 years after William Hadley died. Dr. Hadley's father, Charles Hadley was born in 1830. He could have been one of William Hadley's slaves and if so he would have known him. I found one instance that stated the park was named for "Mr. Hadley" the original owner of the land. The article continues with biographical information of Dr. W. A. Hadley with this statement, "and while the park was not primarily named for him..."  This indicates that the park was named for an ancient landowner who had been dead for seventy years and also for Dr. W. A. Hadley. It was controversial that the city had purchased land for a park for the exclusive use of African-American citizens. It was believed that it was the first municipal park in the country to be dedicated as such. If the intention had been to name the park for Dr. Hadley, the fact would have been hidden to prevent further dispute.

Dr. William Abrums Hadley was born in Davidson County. He had lived near the park and had raised his family in the area. His father and mother Charles and Sarah Hadley lived in the neighborhood. His brothers Jordon and Crump lived there as well. In 1870 Dr. Hadley married Jennie Martin. They were parents of five children. Dr. Hadley graduated from Meharry Medical College and practiced medicine for a time. He left the medical field to teach. He was principal for many years at Knowles School. When he died in 1901, he was the principal of Carter School. He was the founder in 1872, of one of the early African-American fraternal societies in Tennessee, The Independent Order of the Immaculates. A son, Charles O. Hadley, served in the Army, Company G, in the first world war. He was, like his father, a graduate of Meharry Medical College. In addition to practicing medicine, Charles O. Hadley was a professor at Meharry.

Dr. Charles O. Hadley, son of Dr. W. A. Hadley, Nashville Globe

Much credit was given to Ben J. Carr for the park. It was reported that without Carr's effort, in persistently contacting Mayor Howse, the park would not have been created.

To sum it all up, we may never know who the park was named for. We just know it was not named for John L. Hadley. We do know that Hadley Park has a long history in the community near TSU. Many people have lifelong memories of the park, and memories handed down by their elders. A ceremony honoring W. A. Hadley and dedicating the park in his honor might go a long way to remove any bitter taste that the name of the park has caused.

Sources -
The Nashville Globe.
The Tennessean.
Davidson County Register of Deeds.
Davidson County Court Rule Number 4289.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Tennessee Centennial Exposition, 1897

There is a goldmine of information online about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897. It took so much money and time to prepare that it happened a year after the official birthday of the state of Tennessee. 

The Fine Arts Building. Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

There was an Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition, published in 1898. The book of almost 500 pages it full of photos, drawings, and history. You can read the book online or download to read at your leisure. A link will be included at the bottom of the page for the book and other sources. The photos of the exposition were found at the Tennessee State Library and Archives website, at the Tennessee Virtual Archives website and at Pinterest of all places. Probably the photos on Pinterest also came from TSLA but they are not credited. The news clips were found at and the name of the paper and date will be in the caption.  Enjoy looking, and then click on the links to learn more.

Tennessee State Libary and Archives.

Pinterest - Donald Harris, 1897 Centennial Exposition.

Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

Pinterest - Donald Harris, 1897 Centennial Exposition. Sheet Music.

Photos of the buildings on the Centennial grounds are easy to locate. There were building with named for states and for cities. There were buildings representing agriculture, transportation, women, and children. There were specials days for farmers, local universities, and religious groups. 

Children's Building. TEVA
The links below will take you to more photos and information about the Tennessee Centennial Exposition of 1897.

Official History of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. 

Tennessee State Libary and Archives. 

TEVA Tennessee Centennial Exposition Collection

Monday, May 7, 2018

Vauxhall Nashville

The Vauxhall name has disappeared from Nashville and for most people is no longer a memory. It was first used here in the 1820's taken from the famed Vauxhall Gardens in London. Nashville's Vauxhall Gardens was just south of Demonbreun Street between 9th and 8th Avenues. It was a privately owned park, containing almost three acres. It was reported in a news article that a thick forest of native trees separated the city from Vauxhall Gardens. The entire area was commonly known as Southfield and was adjacent to the city. John Decker of the firm Decker and Dyer was the proprietor of the Vauxhall Gardens. A historical marker near the old location gives credit to both men, but a lawsuit filed in Chancery Court against the two reveals that Vauxhall Gardens was the property of John Decker.  and it was here that he opened Vauxhall Gardens. John Decker came to Nashville about 1815. He was in the confectionary business and he had a music store. In 1824 he entered into a partnership with Isham Dyer, who was married to Decker's daughter Harriett. Dyer was also a confectioner and Decker continue with his music business as well. In 1825 Decker and Dyer opened a reading room in Nashville. They provided books and newspapers from around the country for the subscribing members of the reading room. The many notices in newspapers of the early 1820's, show that Decker was determined to provide amusements for Nashvillians, in the form of dancing, concerts, and political gatherings. These entertainments were held in various locations until1825, when he opened the Vauxhall Gardens. 

No images of the gardens exist but it was described in several publications;

Eastin Morris' Tennessee Gazetteer, 1834.

"Vauxhall Garden is a place of fashionable resort, and is situated in the southern border of the city, near the Franklin turnpike. Here is an ingenious circular rail-way, two hundred and sixty two yards in circumference. The cars are so constructed that persons are enabled to propel themselves at a most rapid rate, simply by turning of a crank with the hands. There is also a large assembly room, handsomely decorated; and the promenade, walks and other places of amusement and recreation, are laid off and arranged in good taste. It is owned and kept by Mr. John Decker, a gentleman who spares no pains to render his parterre acceptable to visitors."

Old Days in Nashville Tenn: Reminiscences, Miss Jane Thomas, 1897.

"A man named Decker came to Nashville and opened a confectionary-shop. He built a
residence on Cedar Street. His daughter married Mr. Dyer. Decker bought two or three acres of land in South Nashville, and built a large one-story frame house and ball-room. He had a large garden planted with flowers and shurbs. All the balls, concerts and entertainments were give at 'Vauxhall,' as his place was called. He had a railroad built around the place, where people used to ride for amusement. It was a great place of resort, such as Glendale Park was during the summer of 1885.

Nashville and her trade for 1870, Charles E. Robert, 1870.

"Vauxhall Garden was, in that day, 'the place' of public resort, where all the public dinners, political and social gatherings, etc. were held. It was kept by John Decker afterward of the firm of Decker & Dyer' and was a fashionable resort."

A lawsuit in the late 1830's and the death of John Decker in 1839 brought an end to the gardens.


Vauxhall Street ran from Broad Street to Vauxhall Gardens and is found on an 1833 map of Nashville. In the early 20th century the name of the street was changed to Ninth Avenue South. The property in that area was divided into building lot in the mid-1870's. Many large mansions were built along the street and it became a desired neighborhood.

Residence of E. B. Stahlman on Vauxhall Street, TSLA

Reeves Home on Vauxhall Street, TSLA
Dr. Price's School, 1882 building on Vauxhall Street, TSLA.

In 1880 Dr. George W. F. Price established in Nashville a college for young ladies. By 1881, locals had taken notice of the quality of the education being provided by the school. A Board of Trust was created and took charge of the school with Dr. Price remaining as President. The board purchased a tract of land on Vauxhall Street near Broadway and constructed a new building for the school. The building was four stories plus a basement. There were several parlors on the main floor, reception rooms, an infirmary, a dining hall, kitchen and a suite of apartments for the president and his family. On the second floor, there was a chapel, classrooms, music rooms, and an art department. The third and fourth floors had bedrooms for the boarding students. The school, when it opened in September 1882, had an enrollment of 100 boarding students and 150-day students. Classes ranged from kindergarten to post high school. The board soon acquired the home and lot which fronted on Broad Street and was adjacent to the school. A smaller building was erected on the back of that lot which would become the chapel. 

The 1892 building on Broad Street, TSLA. The 1882 building can be seen in the background.
By 1892 a new building had been built, fronting Broad Street. It was an imposing structure, different from other buildings in Nashville. in the interior of the building was a grand rotunda which rose from the main floor to a dome which was crowned with a skylight of cathedral glass. The school attracted students from across the United States and from Europe. 

Daily American, August 21, 1892

Dr. Price died in April of 1899 in his apartment in the school he had founded. On May 31, 1899, a commencement exercise was held at the school. The son of Dr. Price spoke and he talked about the uncertain future of the school. It was the last graduation from the Nashville College for Young Ladies. By the time fall arrived, apartments were being let in the old school building which was called Vauxhall Flats.

The Vauxhall Apartments, Library of Congress. 

Vanderbilt University purchased the property and for a few years, the school of dentistry was in the original 1882 school building on Vauxhall Street. Vanderbilt added an additional story to the 1882 building which changed the looks of it. The building on Broad Street became the Vauxhall Flats and eventually Vauxhall Apartments. In 1913 Vanderbilt remodeled the street level. New doors were cut and storefronts put in. The building front and west side became home to Southern Bank & Trust, McGee's Barber Shop, and Ocean Candy Co. were some of the tenants. Artist Betty Willie Newman had an art studio at the Vauxhall. Miss Elizabeth Price had a music studio there. In 1923, the Vauxhall building on Broad Street was sold. The name Vauxhall Apartments was retained. The original building on Vauxhall Street was called the Vauxhall Annex. Vanderbilt rented apartments there, until 1941, when the decision was made to demolish the building. In 1946 the site of the Vauxhall and adjoining properties were chosen for a proposed federal building. In August 1949 the Vauxhall was demolished. A photo caption under a Tennessean photo described the old building as smoke-stained and history-haunted. 

Vauxhall Apartments, ca 1945. Zepp

Much of the information for this article came from Nashville newspaper article published  from 1816 through 1950. Other sources are noted in the article.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Smorgasbord Nashville Style

A dictionary defines smorgasbord as a buffet of various hot and cold appetizers, salads, casserole dishes, meats, cheeses, etc. In the southern United States, the meaning leans towards home cooking. A hot bar with fried chicken, meatloaf, ham, baked fish, and vegetables cooked slowly until they are way beyond done. A cold bar with a mix of salad greens with all the toppings and a variety of dressings, ranch, Thousand Island, French, etc. Salads might include beet salad, potato salad, pasta salad, cucumber and onion salad, carrot and raisin salad. Rolls and cornbread are a must. And finally a dessert bar, with fruit cobbler, sheet cake, a variety of pie slices and fresh fruit, And always ice cream.  Makes me hungry to think about all that yummy food.

Cafeteria Style

Nashville had a long tradition of cafeteria style restaurants, where customers went through the line in front of a steam table and pointed out the food they wanted and a server put it on a plate. A good variety of meats, vegetables, salads, and desserts was offered. Shacklett's on Church St., B&W (which stood for Burrus &Webber) on 6th Ave. No., and Mitchell's on Union St. were all popular places in the 40's and 50's.

The Arrival of the Smorgasbord

In the 1960's a new style of eating was introduced to Nashville. A few restaurants began to serve food buffet style, where customers served themselves and could go back for seconds or even thirds. In 1961, the Ambassador Restaurant on West End, the Biltmore Restaurant on Franklin Rd and the Plantation Room at the Albert Pick Motel on Murfreesboro Rd were all advertising smorgasbord, all you can eat buffet menus. They often offered fancy foods, Seafood Newburgh, marinated herring in wine, spiced crab apples, and creole eggplant along with some southern favorites. By the late 1960's a few restaurants were offering a salad bar to go along with the menu entrees. In the summer of 1971, Shoney's Restaurant installed their first salad bar in the Harding Rd. location.

Country House Smorgasbord

In 1971, smorgasbord in Nashville took a new turn. Orlin and Margit Prosser moved their family to Nashville from Pennsylvania. Mr. Prosser was a WWII and Korean War vet. Margit met Orlin at an Army camp where he was stationed and she was a civilian employee.  After their military years, the family settled in Pennsylvania where they began working at a large smorgasbord restaurant. It was big, could seat 1000 people and the entire Prosser family worked there. When they came to Nashville bringing many years of experience in food service Orlin and Margit were ready to own their first business. Partnering with Kenneth Franklin and family they opened the first country cooking, all you could eat, buffet self-serve restaurant, in northeastern Davidson County.  Located at 4011 Dickerson Road the Country House was immediately popular with community residents. Word of mouth brought in folks from outside the area. The restaurant proudly advertised their "country cooking." Country House was in business until the late 1970's.

Hermitage House Smorgasbord

In 1975, the Prosser's decided to open a restaurant of their own. They located a place in Hermitage, Tennessee and opened Hermitage House in May of 1975 at 4144 Lebanon Rd. It was truly a family business with each family member having a role. Customers loved the fried chicken and apple fritters. There were many loyal customers from day one who patronized Hermitage House for many years. The Prossers became a vital part of the Hermitage Community.

After 20 successful years, the Hermitage House moved to a new location at 3131 Lebanon Road. Many customers followed the Prossers down the road to the new place. Over the years new people have discovered Hermitage House. It has been a favorite in some families for several decades now. Hermitage House is still serving food there in 2018. After more than 45 years in business, the menu has not changed a lot and the recipes are some of the ones that Orlin Prosser created years before. Mr. Prosser passed away in 2001. The family carried on, continuing to serve good home cooking.  Mrs. Prosser will celebrate her 90th birthday in November. On cold days there is a fire roaring in the fireplace. Plenty of fresh food and attentive service in the dining room. A visit makes one think of visiting grandmother's house for Sunday dinner. You can find Hermitage House on Facebook.

Melrose House Smorgasbord

Melrose House Smorgasbord was opened in 1974 at 2600 Bransford Ave. Kenneth Franklin and family, of Country House, partnered with Frank Cleaver and family to open the restaurant. Melrose House had 12 dining rooms. A menu with steak and seafood was offered as well as a southern country style smorgasbord of meats and vegetables. Melrose house had room for private parties large and small and also offered catering. It sat high on a hill above Woodlawn Cemetery. The name came from an old mansion that had stood on the site. Raymond Ligon bought the old house in 1950 and dismantled it. He built a new house on the property. It was in this newer building that Melrose House Smorgasbord opened. In April 1975 Melrose House burned. It was rebuilt and reopened later that year. In 1980 there was another fire and Melrose House closed.

Bransford House Smorgasbord

Bransford House opened in May of 1981 in the same building that had been occupied by Melrose House. Mr. and Mrs. Orlin Prosser, owner of Hermitage House and former part owners of Country House had ventured out and started Bransford House. The Prosser's redecorated with a country theme and offered country cooking at their new restaurant. Taking care of two businesses may have have been too much for the family. Though seemingly successful the Bransford House closed by the late 1980's. The Prossers turned their attention back to Hermitage House.

All of these restaurants hold good memories for many Nashvillians. Some continue adding to the memories by visiting Hermitage House on Lebanon Rd. and savoring some old Prosser family favorites.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Maplewood Place to Maplewood Trace.

A fellow history buff asked recently about the history of the name of a street. The question was about Maplewood Trace and how it related to nearby Maplewood Lane and Maplewood Place. The answer is found in several maps from different eras.

An 1871 map of Davidson County shows the continuous path, lined in blue, of Maplewood Lane from Gallatin Road to Dickerson Road. There were zigs and zags because the road followed property lines, rather than cross private property. (below)

Map of Davidson County. Wilbur Foster. 1871

The route has changed a little but is still easily traced on a later map of Davidson County, ca. 1930. There seems to be an extra zig among the zags. (below)

Map of Davidson County. Rural Delivery Routes. Ca 1930. TSLA

On a recent Google map the old path of Maplewood Lane can be found highlighted in blue, though parts of the original road are now gone or carry a different name. Walton Lane is also highlighted. Part of Walton Lane was originally Brierville Road. Walton Lane no longer exists in the footprint of Briley Parkway. (below)

Google Maps. 2018.

Presently Maplewood Trace runs from Dickerson Road back to Maplewood High School which is located on Walton Lane. Maplewood Lane, a few blocks away starts at Saunders Avenue and continues west to an end at Ellington Parkway. Maplewood Place intersects the west side of Gallatin Road near the old Litton High School and ends at the CSX railroad property. On the following map Maplewood Trace (blue), Lane (red) and Place (green) are highlighted along the route each covers today. Walton Lane (brown), another old road in the area is also highlighted on the map. (below)

Google Maps. 2018.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

From Bowman's Hill to Katie Hill

View from Bowman's Hill - Katie Hill today. Google Image 2015
I recently read a blog post about Katie Hill. The writer was very curious about how the name came about. She had researched the spot, found that one of the property developers had a daughter named Katie and wondered if the street was named for her. Property developers sometimes name streets after family members and combined with the other street names it seems to be a high possibility that the Katie in question was the daughter of J. B. Haynie. Haynie used Katie, Lula and Bessie for street names in his Cumberland Heights subdivision. Each name represents someone in his immediate family. The name Katie Hill for the area around Fern Avenue, Katie Avenue and Brick Church Pike is new, used only in the past decade or so.  It is not found in a newspaper search until the 21st century. The hill was known in past years by a different name. From about 1850 it was called Bowman's Hill. After 1900, some referred to it as Allen's Hill. Bowman's Grove was often noted in the newspaper as a gathering place for neighborhood events. Today part of the hill has a neighborhood called Haynie's Grove, and the cedar trees are long gone.

Nashville Union and American, May 29, 1869

Republican Banner June, 24, 1875

Bowman's Grove, Republican Banner, June 24, 1875.

Joseph A. Bowman came to Nashville about 1841. He was born on July 19, 1812, in North Carolina. It is not known what brought him here but a beautiful young woman would entice him to stay. Lucy Caroline White, daughter of General William and Eliza Caroline Wharton White, grew up near Dickerson Road on the estate of her father. We don't know the story of the courtship of the couple. Joseph was a physician. Perhaps he was a friend and colleague of Lucy's brother Dr. William W. White. Joseph and Lucy were married on August 24, 1843. Rev. John W. Ogden performed the ceremony. Ogden was Lucy's stepfather, having married her mother in 1838. General William White died in 1833.

Dr. Bowman and Lucy purchased and settled on property at Dry Creek eight miles out the Dickerson Road, 1844. In 1853, a directory listing shows that Joseph is living and practicing medicine eight miles from Nashville. He had recently bough a tract of land on Dickerson Pike. Though the property fronted on Dickerson it rose upwards and covered a hill that overlooked Brick Church Pike, White's Creek Valley and the Cumberland River.

In the History of the Dickinson Road by L. C. Bell, there is a wonderful description of Dr. Bowman's property.

"To the west of the highway at this point on a lofty hill overlooking the city a handsome home was built by Dr. Joseph A. Bowman many years ago.  The spacious lawn has been subdivided and a number of smaller houses built, but the old residence still stands and the views from its many windows are still strikingly beautiful.  It seems unfortunate that Bowman Hill could not have been made a park where city dwellers might go and feast their tired eyes on the beauty of Nashville with its range of purple hills. The view is one to charm as the city unrolls like a scroll to the observer – to the east a city of homes – to the west the Parthenon, that perfect type of Grecian architecture-Vanderbilt University, - Belle Bennett Memorial, the most beautiful building ever erected to a woman by women-Peabody College - War Belmont College- the church spires point heavenward – the stately capitol crowning all, and the Cumberland River winding its way to the sea." 

Lucy White Bowman died in 1856. Joseph married again in 1864 to America Motheral of Williamson County. She died in 1869. Dr. Bowman lived in his home on Bowman's Hill until his death in 1875. He was survived by a son Joseph M. Bowman, from his second marriage. After Joseph A. Bowman died, his son slowly sold off the property.

Bowman house for rent. Nashville Union and American, April 4, 1875.

Several subdivisions were created up on the hill. Not all of them were on Bowman property. This Plat of the W. G. Bush plan shows the four subdivisions that had been created between 1890 and 1912. Also shown are the J. R. Allen tract and the J. D. Linder tract.

The first subdivision was the Weakley and Dodd Sub of Lot 17 in the Plan of Brooklyn (outlined with green), filed with the Register of Deeds April 25, 1890. The streets in the plan were Highview and Weakley. Only a part of the Cumberland Heights Plan is shown on the above plat.

The second subdivision was the J. B. Haynie Grove Plan (outlined with purple), filed with the Register of Deeds on June 24, 1890. The streets is this plan are Brick Church Pike and Fern Avenue. Only a part of the Cumberland Heights Plan is shown on the above plat.

The third subdivision was the J. B. Haynie Cumberland Heights Plan (outlined with yellow), filed December 18, 1891 with the Register of Deeds The streets on this plan were Katie, Aline, Bessie, Lelia, Lula and Brick Church Pike. Only a part of the Cumberland Heights Plan is shown on the above plat.

The fourth subdivision was the W. G. Bush Tract, (outlined with red), filed with the Register of Deeds on November 11, 1912. The streets in this plan are Highview and Katie.

Weakley and Dodd were in the real estate business. J. B. Haynie and his wife Lula were property developers, buying many tracts of land for subdividing. W. G Bush was a well known businessman. He was involved in brick making and construction, banking and other businesses.

Weakley and Dodd Sub of Lot 17 in the Plan of Brooklyn filed with the Register of Deeds April 25, 1890.

J. B. Haynie Grove Plan, filed with the Register of Deeds on June 24, 1890.

J. B. Haynie Cumberland Heights Plan, filed December 18, 1891 with the Register of Deeds 

J. R. Allen was well known in the neighborhood. He was a county official, a magistrate for the district and had influence and power.  He was called Squire Allen by members of the community. His home was a large frame structure that stood on the hill for many years.

For many years the area on Bowman's Hill was covered with small houses. Many were lived in by working class laborers. The neighborhood was isolated and somewhat hidden from the busy roads that surround it. Today Bowman's Hill has been rediscovered and has a new name, Katie Hill, named for Katie Avenue. New homes have been built. Many are designed to take advantage of the spectacular view.