Saturday, December 11, 2010


By Frank P. Hume, 1912

The sale of the Hume property on the Southeast corner of Fourth Avenue North and Commerce Street marks the passing from that part of the city of the last of those families, who lived on old Cherry Street in ante-bellum days and in the years immediately following the war. 

The writer refers to that part of Fourth Avenue lying between Church and Broad Streets. It is called Fourth Avenue, North, now; in the old days it was known as Cherry Street. And within this block some of Nashville's most prominent people have lived, nearly all of whom have descendants now residing in this city. Beginning at Broad Street on the East side of Fourth Avenue and going North, the house now numbered 116 was the property of Mr. Andrew Anderson, where he and his family lived for many years. Mr. Anderson had for a long time an iron foundry on Cherry, just south of Broad Street, a large two-story frame structure, which was torn down in recent years. Numbers 118 and 120 were occupied by the families of Messrs. Miller and H. C. Hensley, who were descendants of Mr. Anderson. 

The frame building immediately North of the preceding house was occupied by the Hensley family previous to the war. 

At number 134, many years ago, lived the Eastman family. There the elder Eastman died while he was prominent in newspapers circles in ante-bellum times, being at the head of the Union and American. Mr. J. H. Collins and family lived in this house for quite a long period after the war. 

Number 136, of late years known as the Old Woman's Home, was previously the property of Mr. Ben S. Weller, who lived and reared a large family there. And inscription cut in the stone over the front door-way of this house states: "B. S. Weller, A. D. 1839." Mr. Weller kept a tinware establishment on Broad Street on the Northwest corner of the alley between College and Cherry Streets. He was a strong union man, and his home was a favorite resort of union sympathizers. There Parson William G. Brownlow sometimes stopped, when he would visit Nashville.


Number 138, on the South side of Commerce Street, has been the property of the Hume family for sixty years. There Mr. John K. Hume lived until his death in 1865, and his family has since occupied the old home. Mr. Hume was in the dry goods business and afterwards the auction business, on College Street. 

On the same side of Cherry Street, immediately north of Cumberland Alley, now Commerce Street, stood the old Walker House, which was torn away to make room for Commerce Street. This was the home of William Walker, known as "the grey-eyed man of destiny," whose romantic history, and untimely end, is familiar to many of the older citizens of Nashville. During the war the house was the home of Mr. George W. Thompson of Thompson Brothers, afterward Thompson Brothers and Kelley. Later Mr. John Miller McKee and family had their residence here for a number of years. A part of the site of the old Walker House is now occupied by a marble establishment. 

Number 146 and 148 is a double house which was erected by Stretch and Forbes, the druggists, who had their place of business on the northwest corner of College and Union Street, now occupied by the Page & Sims Company. The site of 146 and 148 was previously occupied by the Church of Rev. Mr. Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson who was said to have been a brilliant orator, and a man of much personal magnetism, was a Campbellite (that is and obsolete word now but it used to be Campbellite, and as this sketch is largely about old names and old people I take the liberty to use it in this connection) but he became a convert to Spiritism or Spiritualism, and most of his flock went with him into the new faith. The church was totally destroyed by fire early one morning, about the year 1857. The site of the Cumberland Presbyterian Publishing House and Williams Printing establishment was formerly occupied by the residence of Mr. K. J. Morris. Mr. Morris was a prominent wholesale grocery merchant doing business on North Market Street and was the first Mayor of Nashville, after the overthrow of the Alden Ring and the passing of the city through the receivership of Mr. John M. Bass. The double dwelling house which was merged in the building now used by the Tennessean was used for rental purposes and the writer has no information as to its original ownership.


The residence that stood upon the ground now occupied by the Bruce Building was the property of Mrs. Acklen, who lived there many years ago, afterwards until the time of its demolition it was rented to various tenants. 

Upon the southeast corner of Cherry and Church Streets was located the old McNairy residence, with its long porticos on the west and north sides of the building, and its numerous Corinthian columns embellished at their top with quaint dragon's heads. 

The building was used as the post office by the government during the war, and inside of a small window at the eastern end of the house the writer remembers first seeing our venerable and distinguished fellow-citizen, Mr. Joseph S. Carels selling postage stamps. At the lower end of the old residence, Mr. R. H. Singleton had a news depot, where, for several years, he did a thriving business. After the removal of the post office to the corner of North Cherry and Cedar streets the McNairy House was converted into "The Dollar Store." Later it was torn down to make way for the American building, which finally gave way to the First National Bank building. 

On the west side of Cherry Street, just north of Broad, the first number is 119, which was the residence of Capt. William Stockell. The old building stands without change, as well as the store and shop where Capt. Stockell carried on his business and was also chief of the fire department.


No. 129 was the property of Mr. James Robertson, the founder of Nashville. There his son, Felix, afterwards Dr. Felix Robertson, as born. [correction: At the time that Felix Robertson was born the town of Nashville had not yet been laid out and Robertson did not own this lot. Felix was probably born at Freeland's Station.] He is said to have been the first male child born in Nashville. Dr. Robinson [Robertson] lived to an advanced age and died in the old home. His daughter, Mrs. Tom Smith, also lived there many years, and immediately following the war it was the home for a long time of the family of Mr. Blount Dortch. 

The building is now partially used for business purposes. Upon the southern part of the lot has been erected the Pentecostal Tabernacle and Trevecca College. 

No. 141, on the southwest corner of Commerce Street, the writer remembers only as used for rental purposes, but understands that at one time it was the home of Gen. Zollicoffer. 

The site of the Lyric Theatre was formerly occupied by a two-story frame structure which was the home of Mrs. Claiborne. Her daughter, Mrs. McCall, lived in the adjoining house on the south, now No. 147, and living with Mrs. McCall were here two married daughters , Mrs. Alexine (P. P.) Peck and Mrs. Myra (Joseph) Wheeless. The next house to the south was the property of Miss Aline McCall, the residence on the northwest corner of Cumberland Alley being the home of Mrs. Sallie (Hugh) McCrea. All of these four buildings have vanished save No. 147. 

Number 157 was many years ago the home of Messrs. James B. and Thomas D. Craighead. Afterward this residence was occupied by Dr. Reed, father of Mrs. Robert Frazer ad Mrs. Tyler Calhoun. 

The location of the Steger Building was formerly occupied by the residence and office of Dr. Buchanan. Mrs. Bradford afterward lived in the residence, while the office was occupied by Drs. T. A. and W. A. Atchison.


No. 167 was for a long time the home of Mr. Sandy Carter and family. Mr. Carter had his place of business for many years on the south side of Union Street, between College and Cherry Streets. The residence passed into the possession of the Baptist Sunday School Board. It is now used partly for residence and partly for business purposes, and an office is located on the southern part of the property. Dr. Maddin's office building has been on its present location for many years, but probably the original structure has been considerably remodeled. For a long time it was occupied by Drs. T. L. and J. W. Maddin. Far into the dim past the writer has a vague recollection of an old frame residence that stood upon the site of the Berry Block. About this time, along in the fifties, an afternoon conflagration swept through Church Street and Summer Streets, destroying McCombs & Cornelius' undertaking establishment located upon ground now occupied by the Maxwell House, the Masonic Temple, First Presbyterian Church and probably other buildings. The old frame residence just referred to either went down in this fire or was otherwise demolished. That was the period when the Democrats and Whigs were the two dominant political parties, both struggling for supremacy, and the rivalry between them was intense, strenuous, and bitter. The Democrats constructed a mammoth arch on the lot where the old frame stood, while the Whigs erected on the site of the burned McCombs & Cornelius undertaking establishment a tall pole, pointing heavenward. Capt. Driver ran the stars and stripes to the top of this pole and "Old Glory" fluttered and waved enthusiastically and triumphantly in a Whig breeze. Afterward upon the Berry Block there was erected a chain of small one and two-story structures that were used for business purposes.


The glory of old Cherry Street as a residence section has departed. The Fourth Avenue of 1912 is very different from the Cherry Street of the forties, fifties and sixties. The heads of all the families that lived there have vanished into the unknown and invisible world. Many of their descendants are still living, some of whom are among the best and sturdiest citizens. The old buildings along this street in their palm days were elegant residences--the happy homes of bygone years. Some of them have passed away, others stand in the days of their "sere and yellow leaf," gray and weather beaten with the pelting storms of the years--mute and pathetic emblems of former greatness. Somebody should have them photographed, so that they may be preserved to posterity, as in the progress of modern development they must ere long be torn away to make room for business structures. 

This sketch is written partly from memory, partly from information. There are probably errors in some of the statements made. If so, the writer will be glad to be corrected by those who know better. 

The Hume property was transferred to the Salvation Army September 1, and the latter will soon erect their citadel to carry on their great and noble work which they have been conducting patiently and persistently so many years in Nashville and under so many discouraging conditions.

Originally posted by Debie Oeser Cox on this site.