Thursday, November 30, 2017

Engine Company 18 - The Station

Engine Company 18  

The Station

by Debie Oeser Cox

A rendering of the new fire hall proposed for Gallatin Road appeared in the Tennessean on Oct. 3, 1929

 A rendering of the new fire hall proposed for Gallatin Road appeared in the Tennessean on Oct. 3, 1929. The architects were C. K. Colley & Sons. The building contractor was W. R. Smith & Sons. The Art Deco design was very popular in the United States in 1930. The stepped lines on each side of the parapet over the bay door and the flat roof are additional Art Deco elements. One can almost see the flames leaping around the smaller door.  The chimney is reminiscent of the tower design used in some Art Deco buildings. Other Art Deco features are the portholes and keyholes used in the design of the facade. The hose nozzles that sat above the keyholes, completed the Art Deco touches. They were removed at some point, possibly when the fire station was abandoned about 1990.  The brick pattern and the arched doors, bring in the suggestion of Tudor Revival influence.

City Property Collection, Metro Nashville Archives, ca 1940.
Engine Company 18 was in business by mid-May and was officially opened on Thursday, June 5, 1930. The crew assigned to the company was Capt. J. W. Smiley; Lieut. A. L. Mitchell; Eng. H. F. Leitenberger; Asst. Eng. F. C. Heist and J. M. Freeman, John Curran, J. S. Woods, L. S. Porter, W. J. Maloy and C. E. Willis as pipemen.[Tennessean, April 24, 1930]

Nashville Banner, June 1930

This fire station provided fire protection for East Nashville along the Gallatin Pike corridor, to the Nashville City limits. They also provided backup for the private Inglewood-Madison fire department as needed. Before this fire hall opened, the nearest stations were on Holly St. at 16th and on Meridian St.
The building was abandoned as a fire station about 1990 and sat empty for years after. Around the year 2005 Walmart acquired the land, including the fire station, to build a retail grocery store. In 2006, former Councilwoman Pam Murray and her non-profit group NEON took possession of the building, with a promise to Walmart to renovate and reuse the old fire hall. The group did not follow through with the plans. A fire in 2011, caused heavy damage. The building was almost lost when a demolition order was issued after the fire. Walmart worked to regain ownership of the building from Murray and in 2013 the court ruled in Walmart's favor.

2015 Google Image

This Art Deco design can be used to see the lines of the Art Deco features in the building.

In 2015, local interior designer Karen Goodlow became the new owner. The building was completely renovated and given the name "The Station". Goodlow's design company, along with several other businesses now occupy the building. The building also serves as a community event space. The logo adopted for The Station is beautiful and I hope it is permissible for me to share it here. In 2016, the building was added to The National Register of Historic Places. If not for Ms. Goodlow, the little building would probably have been demolished.  The Station is a wonderful example of how to save and repurpose and historic building.
The Station logo, from

This fire hose nozzle is similar to the concrete nozzles that were place above the parapet keyholes over the bay door.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Shelby's Pond

 by Debie Oeser Cox
all rights reserved
Map of the City of Nashville and Vicinity, Wilbur F. Foster 1877, LOC

Many old maps and plats of lower East Nashville/Edgefield area, show Shelby's pond in an area near the current streets of South Second and Crutcher Street. The area, just across the Cumberland from the downtown, and south of Shelby Avenue, was known as Shelby Bottoms, long before the Shelby Bottoms of today. John Shelby's land covered an area bound on the west and south by the Cumberland River, and on the north by Main Street and on the east by 8th/9th Streets. The pond, which covered 16 acres at one time, was in the southeastern part of his land, near the river.
Chancery Court Plan Bk 1, Sheet 64. Shelby's 2nd Addition. Shelby's Pond, ca 1850

In the early years, the pond belonged to the Shelby family. It was probably used as a watering place for stock and for fishing.  The Shelby's subdivided their land in the 1850's and sold it over the next 20 years.

The pond was described as a place of beauty at times, and a nuisance and public health risk at other times. In 1888 the city health officer wanted the pond drained for health reasons. In fact, there seemed to be a proposal every couple of years to drain the pond. 

Nashville Union and American, Jul 29, 1873

It was also a place of tragedy.  Several persons drowned in the pond. Most were children.   

The Nashville American, Jan 5, 1884

It was a place of recreation for the neighborhood in the latter half of the 19th century. In the winter, when the pond was frozen over it was used for ice skating. William Webb, in William Waller's, Nashville in the 1890's, described the pond.  

"From the foot of Shelby Avenue, extending over a large area of Shelby Bottom, was a huge pond known as Shelby Pond.  This was where all the skating took place, and most any cold afternoon and well into the night, with two or three big bonfires, burning on the edge of the pond, you would find hundreds of skaters of all ages."  

In the other seasons, it was a favorite for fishing.  When migrating ducks gathered at the pond in the fall, it became a neighborhood hunting spot.  It was not a favored as swimming hole, as the water became stagnant in the dry hot summer months. The pond was probably spring fed.  In spite of many attempts to drain the water away, it would fill up again.

Not much mention of Shelby Pond, in news stories after 1900.  The area along the river bank became increasingly industrial.  The pond no longer covered the amount of area that it did in the 19th century. A 1932 topo map shows that the southern section of the pond is dry.  The map has a pond near the Shelby Avenue Bridge that is oval in shape and may have been a sort of reservoir. 
The Shelby bottoms property was subdivided and changed hands many times. Tracing the deeds is almost impossible.  It was part of the D. B. Cooper subdivision that was filed in 1890. Cooper had purchased the property from Shelby family heirs.  In the early 20th century, W. T. Hardison purchased several tracts in the old river bottom, some of which included what had been the southern part of the pond. He transferred the property to his son Humphrey Hardison. The Hardison's had a building supply company located on the banks of the Cumberland in the area south of Shelby Avenue.

I had almost given up on finding more about the pond.  Then in 1936, it was reported in the Tennessean that a young boy, Henry Clay Rains, had drowned in Hardison's Pond in East Nashville.  With more research, I was soon convinced that this was what remained of the old Shelby Pond. By the 1940's Hardison's Pond was mentioned in news stories on a regular basis.  It was a called Hardison Lake as well and covered several acres. For a fee, a person could fish all day.  The lake was stocked with bass, bream, crappie and channel catfish. It was not as large as the original Shelby  Pond, but still large enough to cover several acres.  The lake was bordered by Davidson St on the south and Crutcher on the north and ran west to east from South Second St to South Fourth St.  

State of Tennesse, 1952,'s Lake

Robert Eller, a state game warden, operated the private fishing lake.  Fishing continued there through the 1950's and likely up to the time that the Silliman Evans Bridge was built across the river.  Much of the Hardison's Lake can be seen in a ca 1961 photo, showing the progress of the bridge construction.

Silliman Evans Bridge Construction, 1961, Metro Nashville Archives, Hardison Lake just west of the bridge.

The lake was filled in the early 1960's and became the property of the Steiner-Liff Metal Recycling Company. A plat of that property shows the outline of the Hardison's Lake and is labeled old Hardison property.  It belongs to Steiner family members today.

Steiner-Liff property in East Nashville, 6791-172, 1983.  The area shaded in pink was Hardison's Lake.
 Scroll down to see news clipping about Shelby's and Hardinson's Pond.

Republican Banner, Dec 23, 1870  

Daily American, Nov 13, 1878.

Daily American, Nov 1, 1878

Daily American, Jan 16, 1893

The Tennessean, Apr 11, 1945

The Tennessean, Oct. 5, 1958

The map above is a current google map.  The area where Hardison's Lake was once located is shaded blue. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

First Toll Gate on Gallatin Pike.

I often find things by chance, while I am searching for searching for something else. One day I was researching property in East Nashville and ran across a plat that gave the location of an old toll gate on Gallatin Pike.  I made a copy and put it in a file. Now and again I would come across something related and I would add it to the file.  I am slowly going through all those files and sharing. A reader of the Nashville History facebook page asked a question today about that toll gate. It was time to pull that file out and share.

The first toll gate on the Gallatin Turnpike was on the west side of Gallatin across from Greenwood Avenue.The toll gate opened in January of 1839. It was near the spot where Jeremiah Hinton had his two-story log tavern. The toll gate lot is shown on a 1905 plat found in Davidson County Register of Deeds Plat Book 161, page 134.  West Greenwood Avenue was called Edgar Avenue at that time.

Davidson County Plat Book 161, page 134. 1905

 Wiley B. Brown, Joseph Litton, and Edwin Childress, Jr. are listed as toll gate keepers in the 1880 Nashville City Directory.

Wiley B. Brown, 1880 Nashville City Directory

Joseph Litton and Edwin H. Childress, Jr., 1880 Nashville City Directory

Hinton's Tavern - North of Greenwood Avenue, and on the east side of the pike, stands the residence of B. R. McKennie, a well-known newspaper publisher, of the ante-bellum period. Before the house was built, the land was owned by Jeremiah Hinton, who had a tavern stable where the McKennie front yard now is. Hinton's two-story log tavern was on the west side of the pike, a few feet north of the present residence of his grandson, Dr. J. B. Talbot, a descendant of Clayton Talbot.
In the spring of 1821, when Judge Guild was "footing it" to Nashville to study law, he says: After stopping to see Judge Trimble, I continued my walk towards Nashville, and stopped overnight at Hinton's tavern, three miles from the city. Mr. Hinton was a kind old man, and learning the object of my visit to Nashville did not charge me anything." Nashville-Gallatin Interurban Railway, Douglas C. Anderson. Nashville, 1913

The Gallatin Turnpike Company was incorporated January 5, 1830. The stock was subscribed and officers were elected in 1836. The original capital was $135,000, but it was afterward increased to $265,000, and it is now $261,000. The first officers were: Robert Weakley, President; and William Edwards, Secretary. The first toll-gate was opened in January 1839, located just east of Nashville, and the road to Gallatin was opened to the public at about the same time. Toll-gates were fixed February 1, 1839, and the road was soon afterward completed to the Kentucky line near Scottsville. Besides the one toll-gate already mentioned, there were three gates above Gallatin. Sometime after the road was finished the part between a point fourteen miles above Gallatin and the Kentucky line was abandoned, so that now there is kept up only fifty miles of the road. The cost of the entire road was $270,000. The officers of this company at the present time are: H. Vaughn, President; and A. G. Adams, Secretary and dispenser of dividends. History of Nashville Tennessee. H. W. Crew. Nashville, 1890.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Green Hills

Nashville Attorney Ward Dewitt was a regular at Metro Nashville Archives when I worked there. He was a patron, a volunteer and became a friend to all the staff. We looked forward to his visits and his stories of old Nashville.  The first time I remember him visiting, he was looking for information on the Green Hills neighborhood and shared some Green Hills history with me. Mr. Dewitt was bothered that everything in the area now bore the name, but that few knew how Green Hills began. It started out as a new subdivision near David Lipscomb's Bible College. It was out in the country with wide fields and few houses. The new neighborhood was east of Hillsboro Road and border on Belmont Boulevard. The developer was John Calhoun. News ads boasted that all the lots would be supplied with water and electricity. It was a place to escape the heat and pollution of the city. Two plats were filed with the register of deeds, the first in 1926 and the second in 1927. Street names in the development include Observatory, Bonner, and Green Hills Drives. He was not sure how the subdivision was named.  I found a clue in a Tennessean article. The neighborhood was promoted as being on the highest elevation in the area, with "a wealth of big shade trees and plenty of luxurious grass." (The Tennessean April 3, 1927.)

Davidson County Register of Deeds, Plat book 547, page 128

Davidson County Register of Deeds, Plat book 547, page 139

In 1939, the Green Hills Market opened on Hillsboro Road, taking the name of the neighborhood.  In 1943, the owners of the market took over management of the adjoining Green Hills Pharmacy.

The Tennessean, September 15, 1939

The Tennessean, March 5, 1943
Green Hills is now in one of the busiest areas of the county and covers a large area along both sides of Hillsboro Road. Green Hills Mall is just up the road from the old neighborhood. There are many restaurants and businesses, schools and churches close by.   Many of the old homes have been demolished with new, larger homes built in their place. As Nashville grows and changes it is fun to remember.