Sunday, March 15, 2015

Little Sisters of the Poor

In 1894, Thomas Byrne, Bishop of Nashville, purchased for the Catholic Church, a tract of land on the north side of Main Street, in East Nashville.  The parcel was just across Main street from St. Columba Church and School.  The Little Sisters of the Poor came to Nashville in 1903 and took up residence at the old St. Mary's Orphanage on Murfreesboro Road.  The order filed a charter with the Davidson County Register of Deeds in January of 1904. Soon after a building was constructed on the lot, purchased by Bishop Byrne.  Upon completion of the three and one half story structure, the sisters moved into the handsome new building.  The mission of the Little Sisters of the Poor was to provide care for elderly, needy, persons of any religion. 

Little Sisters of the Poor - Postcard courtesy of Mike Slate

All About Nashville, Ida Clyde Clark, 1912

1908 Hopkins Atlas of Nashville - Nashville Public Library

The map shows the location of both St. Columba Church and Little Sisters of the Poor in 1908, on opposite sides of Main Street between 5th and 6th (formerly Spring) Streets. (The map mistakenly labeled the church as St Columbia)

St. Columba Church and Rectory, Main Street, Nashville.  - (

In March of 1916, a great fire burned through much of East Nashville, destroying many homes and buildings.  St. Columba Church and School, and the Little Sisters of the Poor, buildings were all burned beyond repair. 

The Atlanta Constitution 23 Mar 1916

1916 Fire, Little Sisters of the Poor - TSLA, Samuel A. Weakley Papers  

The Catholic Church quickly rebuilt on the site of St. Columba, erecting a combination church and school and rectory on the Woodland Street side of the property.  The new Church of the Most Holy Name was dedicated on March 25, 1917, almost one year to the day after the East Nashville fire.  The Little Sisters did not rebuild in East Nashville.  Instead a site was chosen in the 1700 block of Horton Avenue and a new building erected in 1916.  Today the building on Horton Ave. is on the Register of Historic Places.  It is no longer occupied by the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

Little Sister of the Poor, constructed 1916, Horton Ave near 18th.  Photo is public domain, by Nyttend

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Debie for you work. My paternal grandparents lived at 510 Trevecca, right behind the old Nazarene College. My father was born in 1916, and sent to the first Christian elementary school around, was hit by a milk truck on campus and almost died. He did eventually recover and learned to walk again. He became a band director, musician, and Physical Ed teacheer but died at age 50 in 1966 when I was 15. I loved coming from my home in Madison to visit East Nashville, eat at the Krystal Drive-In and call on the phones, and get KK donuts for 50cents a dozen. Keep up the good work! Mary


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