Friday, July 5, 2013

Nashville's Riverwood Mansion

Courtesy Metro Nashville Archives

According to Paul Clements in volume one of his set of books, A Past Remembered, the back section of the Riverwood house, originally a two story federal style structure is the older part, and was built by Philip Philips.  Philips purchased the land in 1795 and was dead by 1797.  Philips, land speculator and a very wealthy man, left his wife Susannah with a number of children, some of them nearly grown.  With the help of ten slaves and her older sons, Susannah managed the farm until her death in 1805.  In 1820 the house along with 580 acres was sold by the Philips heirs to Dr. Boyd McNairy.  Dr. McNairy had a house in Nashville and the Philips place was his country house.  

In 1829 Dr. McNairy sold the house to Alexander Porter, Sr. and his wife Susan. Alex Porter died a few years after buying the house.  The widowed  Susan Porter, soon after the death of her husband in 1833, constructed a large two story home in front of and only a few feet away from the old Philips house.  The old house was then used as a kitchen and slave quarters.  The Porter's called their plantation "Tammany Wood."  In about 1851, Alexander Porter Jr. was thirty years old and the only child of Susan who remained at home.  He oversaw a renovation of the two houses, which enlarged the front of the house and connected the Porter house to the old Philips house. The Greek Revival front with the large columns, that you see today was, added with the 1851 renovation.   

In December of 1859, Alexander Porter, Jr., who had earlier purchased the share of his brothers and sisters in their parents land, sold Tammany Wood to William Cooper, who changed the name of the plantation to Riverwood.  Cooper, who never married, lived for a time in the house with his brother Henry and Henry's family.  The Cooper brothers were attorneys in Nashville.  Henry was elected to the U. S. Senate and moved, with his family, away from Riverwood, in 1870.  About this same time William, who had been appointed as a justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, also left Riverwood, moving to Nashville.  The Cooper brothers, Henry and William, never returned to live at Riverwood.   

William moved to New York and at his death in 1909 he left his property to his brothers and their heirs.  He left the home Riverwood and 69 acres to his brother Duncan Brown Cooper.

Duncan had lived most of his life in Maury County, TN but after the death of his wife in 1893, he moved to Riverwood with his children.  Sometime after 1910  Duncan's daughter, Mrs. Sarah Burch and her husband, moved to Riverwood to live with her father.  Known by the nickname Sadie, she had been married in 1899 to Lucius Edward Burch.  In 1914 Sadie and Lucius Burch began to purchase some of the surrounding tracts of the William F. Cooper land.  Also in 1914, Sadie bought from her father and her siblings their interest in the home tract of Riverwood.  Duncan continued to live at Riverwood until his death in 1922.  Sadie Cooper Burch died in 1975 and Riverwood belonged to Cooper family descendants until 1978.

Special thanks to Paul Clements for sharing his excellent research on the Riverwood property, from the "A Past Remembered Collection" at Metro Nashville Archives.  Mr. Clements book  can be found at Metro Nashville Archives and at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.  
Riverwood timeline: 
1783 - Ephraim McLean receives grant for land along the Cumberland.
1795 - Philip Philips purchased the farm, where Riverwood Manison now stands, from Ephraim McLean. Philips built a two story Federal style house that is now the back section of Riverwood Mansion.
1797 - Philips dies, leaving the management of his home and farm to wife Susannah Philips, with help from her grown sons and many slave.
1805 - Susannah Philips dies.
1820 - Philips heirs sell house and 580 acres to Dr. Boyd McNairy.  Dr. McNairy lived in the Nashville and used the Philips house for a country home.
1829 - Dr. McNairy sells home to Alexander Porter, Sr. and his wife Susan. They called the plantation "Tammany Wood" after the Porter ancestral home in Ireland.
1833 - Susan Porter having been recently widowed constructed a larger two story house just in front of the older Philips house.  The Philips house was used as a kitchen and slave quarters.
1851 - Alexander Porter, Jr. connected the Porter house to the Philips house and renovated and enlarged the residence.  It was in 1851 that the Greek Revival columned front was added to the house.
 1859 - Alexander Porter, Jr. sold the home along with 851 acres to William F. Cooper.  Cooper renamed the place Riverwood.  He was unmarried and lived in the home with his brother Henry Cooper and Henry's family.
1870 - Both William and Henry Cooper moved away from Riverwood, never to live there again.
1895 - Duncan Cooper moved to Riverwood, from Maury County, Tennessee with his children, after the death of his wife Mary in 1893.
1909 - William Cooper dies, leaving his property to his brothers and their heirs.  He left the home Riverwood and 69 acres to his brother Duncan Brown Cooper. 
1914 - Sarah Cooper Burch and her husband Lucius began to buy surrounding tracts from the heirs of William F. Cooper. She also purchased from her father and siblings their interest in the Riverwood home tract.
1922 - Duncan Cooper dies at Riverwood, now the home of his daughter Sarah Cooper Burch.

Creative Commons License
NNashville's Riverwood Mansion by Debie Oeser Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are welcome and will be moderated.