Friday, July 19, 2013

Original Lots, Nashville, 1784

Original Plan of Lots
Town of Nashville
As Surveyed by Thomas Molloy
In April of 1784, the legislature of North Carolina passed an act establishing the Town of  Nashville. The bill set aside -

"two hundred acres of land, situate on the south side of Cumberland River, at a place called the Bluff, adjacent to the French Lick, in which said Lick shall not be included, to be laid off in lots of one acre each, with convenient streets, lanes, and alleys, reserving four acres for the purpose of erecting public buildings, on which land, so laid off according to the directions of this act, is hereby constituted and erected, and established a town, and shall be known and called Nashville, in memory of the patriotic and brave Gen. Nash."

Five Trustees were appointed, Samuel Barton, Thomas Molloy, Daniel Smith, James Shaw and Isaac Lindsley, to handle the business of the town.  Thomas Molloy was selected to conduct the survey.  Lots, one acre in size and a public square of four acres were surveyed.  Proceeds, from the sale of the lots, would be used to build a courthouse and a jail on the public square.  Purchasers of the lots were required, within three years, to build, "one well framed square log, brick or stone house, sixteen feet square at least and eight feet pitch in the clear, with brick or stone chimney…"   

The original survey included 165 lots. The town of Nashville was bordered on the east by Water Street, on the south by Broad Street, on the west by McLemore Street, and on the north by Line Street. Street names running east to west were Water Street, Market Street, College Street, Cherry Street, Summer Street, High Street, Vine Street and Spruce Street. Water Street was outside the limits of the town until the riverfront were surveyed and added to the town limits.  Streets running north to south were Line Street, Gay Street, Cedar Street, Union Street, Spring Street, Commerce Street and Broad Street. Broad Street and Line Street were both outside the confines of the town.  There was a creek, Wilson's Spring Branch, running just south of Broad Street.  The French Lick Branch and the large salt lick lay north of town. 

It was later realized that the land between Water Street and the river had not been surveyed by Molloy.  A survey of this property added lot 166 through lot 175 and this property was incorporated into the City of Nashville. Some of the river front lots, from just below Church Street, down to Broad Street, were retained by the commissioners for the city.  The City Wharf was located on these lots. Metro Nashville Government still owns the riverfront lots today.  A Fort Nashborough replica, built to represent the original "Bluff Station," and Riverfront Park are located on the site. 

Over the past twenty years or so, I have been making a listing of these lots, noting the owners and other information.  I have finally compiled a database from a small portion of the gathered information to share with others.  Deeds for all of the lots have not been located. Those will be added as they found.Some lots are listed as sold by the Town Trustees more than once. It is believed that the original buyer did not meet the terms of the sale and the lot was returned to the Trustees.  Click below to see the database.


  1. Wow, this is fabulous work. Very valuable. Thank you, Debie Cox!....Mike Slate

  2. This is incredible history! I had located a list of these original lots in Nashville, 1784, in the Friends of Metro Archives then I found this. My 6th Great Grandfather, Andrew Lucas who married Nancy Gower, purchased Lot 34 on 30 Jul 1784. He also signed the Cumberland Compact in May of 1780. Now I'll be able to print this map and attempt to locate where it was during an upcoming trip to Nashville. Thank you so much!
    Marsha Fagnani

  3. If you have any information about any of the McNairy's lots/land, I would love to see it. I have some information that said Judge John McNairy had 'claimed' almost all of the land along the riverfront and after the citizens complained about it returned some of it to the city. I know that he had a place in town as did his brother Dr. Boyd McNairy and that they both had other parcels as well as their weekend or country houses.

    1. Melissa, I am also a descendent of the McNairy's. I would love to connect and swap stories. Which of the McNairy siblings does your line come from. Mine is Margaret McNairy, she is my 5th great grandmother. You can contact me at

      Thank You


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