Delving into the Past

November 2, 2008 at 7:01 pm (blog, Blogroll, history, journal, nashville, photo)

I am, yet again, sincerely apologizing for neglecting this blog o’mine.  Now that I have a separate site at I think I will be able to contribute more to this side of things.  This will continue to be my personal blog, as well as the home of “Experiencing Nashville”.

I have recently discovered the Nashville Archives, where much of Nashville’s historical past is kept in chronicled form for whomever desires to dive in.  Even better, the Archives is housed in a building very near where I live!   In the near future, I plan on taking this blog deeper on the path of the “Experiencing Nashville” series.  

I’m looking forward to satisfying my thirst for knowledge of our past.  I think understanding where we came from is an important part of where we end up in the future.

I hope you will stick around!


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Happy Spring!!

March 20, 2008 at 7:07 am (blog, Blogroll, bloom, blooming, flowers, journal, nashville, photo, photoblog, photography, pictures, reflecting, renew, renewal, season, seasons, spring, sunshine, tennessee, TN, weather)

Today is the official first day of the spring season!  I can’t even express how excited I am to see winter move on.  Good riddance!!  I keep trying to remember that without the dark days, the sunshine wouldn’t feel as bright.

Get out and enjoy the sunshine today!

Here are a few spring-ish pictures for your viewing pleasure:

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Experiencing Nashville: Part Three – The Bell Witch

March 18, 2008 at 7:12 pm (Adams, belief, blog, Blogroll, civil war, experiencing nashville, folklore, ghost, ghost story, ghouls, haunting, historic nashville, history, legend, monsters, nashville, photo, photoblog, photography, pictures, questioning, spirit, struggle, suffering, tennessee, TN, witch) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

For this “Experiencing Nashville” post, I ventured a little farther than I have before. Over the weekend, I took a drive up to Adams, TN. It takes about an hour to get there from here. On a rainy Saturday morning, I loaded into my car and picked up some friends before hitting the road.

I’ve been intrigued by the legend of the Bell Witch for years. I’m such a sucker for anything related to history and the paranormal. I tivo all the Ghost Hunters episodes, and thoroughly freak myself out when no one else is home. I love it.

Here is a little history on the Bell Witch story:

In the early 1800’s, Adams, Tennessee was known as the Red River Settlement. It was an area of vast land with great potential for farming. John Bell and his family moved from North Carolina to the Red River area, aquiring land and developing crops of corn and tobacco. It wasn’t long before strange happenings began to take place on the farm.

It began with a sighting of a strange animal in the cornfield. The family began to hear strange noises, thumbs and scratches on the walls coming from unseen forces. The noises seemed to escalate, then turning into more tangible happenings. Bedsheets were pulled off the bed while the family slept. Pillows were tossed around, and finally, physical assaults on John and his daughter, Betsy.

Over time, John sought out the help of friends and neighbors. They too witnessed the same things the family was claiming to regularly experience. The spirit seemed to acquire a voice, and would verbally taunt the family endlessly. When Betsy became engaged to a neighbor, Joshua Gardner, the spirit strongly opposed and would continue to voice “her” opinion, until finally driving the couple to call it off.

Poor John Bell was relentlessly tortured and taunted. His health grew worse, he began having seizures and eventually became bedridden. After John Bell passed away in 1820, the family found a bottle of a mysterious substance. The spirit boasted of giving the substance to John Bell and “fixing him”. According to the story, she even sang loudly and mockingly at John Bell’s funeral.

The spirit finally decided to leave, promising to return in 7 years. And so she did… although this time, only conversed with John Bell, Jr. and supposedly made several predictions about the coming age, such as the civil war, WWI, the Great Depression, and WWII. Then, the spirit again left, claiming to return in 107 years.

No one knows for sure if the Bell Witch actually returned. It’s possible that she did, in fact, return to the most direct Bell descendant, but no one made mention of it.

On the original Bell farm, there is a cave now known as the Bell Witch cave. It is said that the spirit lived/lives there. Is it another tourist trap to make money off unsuspecting visitors? Or is there any real credence to the stories? Even today, there are reports of strange happenings in the area. While visiting the Adams historical museum (located in what once was the Bell School), I asked one of the employees if there were strange occurences that take places there. She said sometimes things will move around. People will witness strange shadows that are unexplained. There are sounds that are sometimes heard, and lights that are seen in the distant fields.

So, who is the Bell Witch really? There is no way to know for sure. There are many guesses as to the real truth behind the legend. Some theories claim that Native American spirits continue to claim the land that was rightfully theirs. Others say that it was a spirit, demonic in nature, who even claimed to be present at Christ’s crucifixion. The more popular theory is that the spirit was a manifestation of Kate Batts, a local resident, who some suspected of practicing witchcraft. Another theory is that the “spirit” was nothing more than a manifestation of energy that is sometimes brought on by a young girl entering puberty, or even as a result of an incestuous relationship between John and Betsy. None of these claims can really be confirmed or proven… but then they also can’t be disproven.

While visiting Adams, I was a little surprised at how little there really wass to see. There is a little log cabin behind the brick school building, and a graveyard of Bell descendants (apparently the Bell family mostly went on to Mississippi, where they are laid to rest) just down the road.

The cave is inaccessible much of the year, except for the summer months when it dries out. We drove around to no avail, just trying to even find the entrance.

So, decide for yourself on what really can be logically explained away, or just let it continue to be a mystery of the unknown. It’s really more fun that way.

sources: by Pat Fitzhugh

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Experiencing Nashville: Clover Bottom Mansion

March 4, 2008 at 1:06 pm (blog, Blogroll, civil war, experiencing nashville, historic nashville, history, nashville, photo, photoblog, photography, pictures, tennessee) (, , , , , )

 I found Clover Bottom Mansion by accident. As I was driving around with a friend, we happened upon it and decided to go grab some lunch and have a picnic on the grounds before exploring it. The day started with mild temperatures for January, but as the sun started to fade, it got pretty chilly. Still, we pressed on, armed with our handy cameras. As I was doing research about this “Experiencing Nashville” post, I was surprised to see that there is a connection to former president Andrew Jackson. Apparently he played a larger role in the development of Nashville than I realized.Here is a little bit of history:

The pioneer story begins in 1766 with the exploration of the long hunters. The river was named in honor of one of their group, Uriah Stone. These adventurers carried the story of this bountiful, uninhabited land with them when they returned to Virginia and North Carolina. It was fourteen years, however, before the first settlers arrived.In the spring of 1780, John Donelson, having led the flotilla of settlers to Nashborough, recognized the need to plant a corn crop immediately. He again boarded the good ship Adventure with his family, poled up the Cumberland around the great bend until he found the mouth of Stones River. He was looking for the alluvial fields that were as fertile as the Valley of the Nile and which needed no clearing in order to plant.  A short distance from the confluence of the two rivers he found what he was looking for on the west bank of Stone’s River, forever after known as The Clover Bottoms. Here he docked his boat and built half-faced shelters to house his family on the opposite bluff. This was fifteen-year-old Rachel Donelson’ s first home in Tennessee.


In July, heavy rains inundated the corn crop. This unhappy event, plus constant harassment from the native Indians, caused the family to move to Mansker’ s Fort for protection.In the fall, word reached the settlers at Mansker’s that the flood waters had subsided and that the corn had eared. John Donelson sent a request to the men at Fort Nashborough to meet him at the Clover Bottoms to help harvest the corn. Approximately ten men from each fort built wooden sleds to drag the corn from the field to the boats moored in Stone’ s River. Several days were required to load the boats.As they left the shore, the boat from Fort Nashborough was attacked by Indians; only three settlers escaped. The Donelson party was on the north bank, harvesting the cotton planted there. They abandoned their boat loaded with corn and managed to escape on foot through the woods. Donelson’s heroic slave, Somerset, swam the Cumberland River and brought help from Mansker’s Fort to the stranded group.  Meanwhile, the boat from Fort Nashborough floated downstream, eventually reaching the bluffs with its cargo of corn and slain men. The settlers there rescued the corn and buried their dead.Some years later Andrew Jackson operated several businesses along the Stones River corridor. He first opened a general store near the Clover Bottoms. To stock his store he went to Philadelphia and traded land preemptions for flour, sugar, piece goods, and pocket knives. In 1805 Jackson, with two partners, formed the Clover Bottom Jockey Club. A race track and tavern were built by the river. The story of Jackson’ s duel with Charles Dickinson is well known. The unfortunate quarrel started at this race track.A story that is not so well known is that of Jackson’s boat yard on Stone’s River, near its mouth. Here he constructed five flat boats and one keel boat for former Vice President Aaron Burr who was leading a group of colonists to lands he had acquired in Louisiana. In 1812 Andrew Jackson became a military officer and pursued a military and political career. Thereafter his business interests on Stone’ s River faded away.


The United States of America was a fine place to be in the early 1800’s. The young country promised its citizens the right to free speech, to worship as they wished, and to pursue happiness. And it was the pursuit of happiness which much occupied the minds of the young men and women of the Clover Bottom Community of Donelson, Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1804, thirty seven year old Anthony Clopton, left the ranks of bachelorhood behind and married into one of the wealthiest families in the area, the Hoggatts of “Clover Bottom” Farm. “Rhody” Hoggatt moved with ease through the glittering world of antebellum Nashville and brought to the marriage a level of sophistication not always in evidence at what was still a rough and tumble frontier.  

The large tract of land known as Clover Bottom Plantation came to be owned by Dr. James Hoggatt, who built the antebellum home in 1858 on land inherited from his father, Capt. John Hoggatt, a Revolutionary War soldier. Apparently, the custom was to give land to the soldiers to repay them for their role in the Revolutionary War.


This fine Italian villa style home is centered in an area of local historical significance.Social life at Clover Bottom revolved around church, parties, and the race track; not necessarily in that order. Now horse racing was serious business, and no where on earth did appreciation for the sport transcend those of the Clover Bottom folk. Anthony Clopton and his neighbors were members of the Clover Bottom Jockey Club, the hub of Tennessee horse racing for many years. Among its members was one Andrew Jackson. General Jackson was particularly devoted to the “sport of Kings,” and never missed an opportunity to match his renowned horses against all comers.


The events surrounding the races of March 3, 1806 proved not only to be a rich source of gossip for the inhabitants for months, but continues to engage the interest of historians and the imagination of writers.In the 1920s Lebanon Road ran through the Clover Bottom farm property and crossed Stone’s River just west of the present road and bridge.


The old stone bridge abutments are still standing. The Stanford brothers, A.F. and R.D., had purchased the farm in 1918. Since Lebanon Road split the property, A.F. took the section to the east of the road and R.D. took the section to the west. A.F.’s part included the antebellum Hoggatt residence and R.D. built a two-story brick colonial revival home on his side of the road.In the period following World War I the outlying areas of Davidson County were still rural farm lands. A.F. Stanford ran a dairy farm at Clover Bottom while R.D. Stanford raised white-faced beef cattle. The majority of the population of the county, however, lived within the confines of the Nashville city limits. With the proliferation of the family motor car in the “Roaring Twenties,” excursions to the countryside became a popular pastime. For those fortunate enough to own an automobile, exploring country roads, farms, and creek sides was a welcome relief from city life. There was usually a picnic basket on board filled with fried chicken, biscuits that had been buttered while hot, stuffed eggs, and a special Nashville favorite, chess pie.Finding a swimming hole in one of the area rivers or creeks was an extra bonus on these outings. Although Mill Creek and Richland Creek were good for wading, neither furnished very deep holes for swimming. Men and boys swam in the Cumberland River, but it was considered too dangerous for women and children. The best swimming spots were found in the Harpeth and Stone’ s rivers.One such spot on Stone’s River was on A.F. Stanford’s side of the old bridge near where the present-day bridge crosses. Mr. Stanford created a beach by having tons of sand hauled in. He constructed a frame beach house with dressing rooms, lockers, and showers. There were boats, springboards, and picnic tables. He even employed Mr. and Mrs. M.B. Hall to manage the beach operation. Mr. Stanford’s generosity in creating this community beach is documented in a 1927 advertisement which stated that everything was free.It also stated that Old Hickory busses passed every thirty minutes-fare twenty-five cents.When the new bridge was constructed in the early 1930s, the old road leading to the beach entrance was closed. The new bridge piers were sunk into the the swimming hole and floods washed away the sand. All that remains of the once-lively recreational spot are photographs taken by Wiles Studio in 1931, now in the collection of Merle Stanford Davis who married A.F. Stanford in 1927 and was mistress of Clover Bottom until 1948.After World War II, Clover Bottom Plantation was sold to the State of Tennessee and is now listed as a historic site.  Compiled from the following sources: Essay:Pioneer History of Stone’s River Near The Clover Bottoms By Amelia Whitsitt Edwards Carlyn McCullar Bain Suellen Clopton Blanton


update: 9/9/12

the current link for info of historic sites in Nashville, TN can be found here:

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ahhh, it’s the weekend

February 29, 2008 at 9:17 pm (blog, Blogroll, health, journal)

Well, this past week was my first week back to “normal”.  I use that word very loosely.  It really wasn’t a normal week at all.  As far as work goes, we only had program 2 of the 4 usual days.  On Wednesday, Metro closed schools due to icy roads.  Anytime Metro is closed, RIP is closed.  I took that opportunity to try and recover from the first two days of the week.  I am still so surprised at just how difficult it has been to get back into the swing of things.  I’m definitely not there yet.  My stamina is next to zero, and my energy level waivers.  Yesterday was our monthly staff work day, so we, again, had no program.  Work days give us an opportunity to play catch up on whatever needs catching up.

I woke up this morning with breathing trouble.  I could hear the rain outside my window and knew immediately that the weather was the culprit.  After a breathing treatment, I rolled back over, accepting the fact that I was not even going to attempt to make it to class today.  I’m just afraid to risk it.  Until I am feeling back to 100%, there is always the chance of a relapse.  That scares me.

So, after taking some additional time to rest, I got up and around and eventually headed into work for the afternoon.

I am so glad it’s the weekend!  It looks like the weather will be decent for most of it, so I’m determined to get out and about.  I’m still so stir crazy, but anytime I try to do much it doesn’t last long.  Patience.

I really need to get out and take some photos.  I also need to write the 2nd Experience Nashville installment.  More to come!

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It’s all downhill from here

January 28, 2008 at 7:27 am (asthma, blog, Blogroll, experiencing nashville, health, historic nashville, journal, monday, nashville, photo, questioning, rant, struggle, support, weight, weight loss, work, workout)

I’m starting to feel like a person again.  These meds do weird things to me, mentally, physically, and emotionally.  I’ll be glad when I can stop taking them all together.

I don’t have much to write about, I just wanted to make a post for the sake of consistency.  My weekend was uneventful.  I did get to spend some time with Melinda and Alexander on Saturday, so it was nice to see them.  I hadn’t seen them since before the holidays.  I watched a handful of movies over the weekend, which I may do some reviews on.  I wasn’t impressed with any of them.  There seems to be a lull in good movies these days.  Anyone know of any decent ones?  Thank goodness the redbox is only $1 a day

This week I’ve really got to push myself to get in all of my hours at work.  My bank account is just now feeling the effects of me being out sick around the holidays, then off for two weeks when the office was closed.  I have to be uber-careful about my spending until I can get back on my feet.

I have two Dr appointments this week.  I’m glad about that, just to be able to have peace of mind.  This whole asthma attack thing really shook me.  I’m going to see a pulinologist, as well as my regular Dr, so maybe we can get some sort of management going.

One thing I do know, I’m not going to sit here and let this limit my life as much as it has been.  This is for the birds.  I’ve got to really take a hard look at my health, as whole, and determine how to start tackling the things that keep me in this state.

In other news, I’ll be doing another “Experiencing Nashville” review soon.  I’d still love to hear any suggestions from the peanut gallery out there.  I have some things in mind, but it’s been way too cold to get out and take photos lately.

That’s all I’ve got for now.  I need to head into work and get lesson plans done for the week.  It’s Monday, yet again.

Until  next time…

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taking suggestions

January 23, 2008 at 8:17 am (blog, Blogroll, civil war, experiencing nashville, historic nashville, history, journal, nashville, support)

I would love to hear from anyone that has an idea on what the next “Experiencing Nashville” post should be about.  If you know of any interesting places and would like to see them featured, let me know.  It can a historic landmark, an interesting event, an over-looked hotspot in town…anything really.  I’ll add it to my list of topics for review.

I’m making a mental note to myself that I’m going to be productive today.  That might be nice for a change.

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desperately needing normalcy

January 22, 2008 at 2:01 pm (asthma, belief, blog, Blogroll, depression, health, journal, life questions, nashville, questioning, struggle, suffering, support)

It’s sort of strange to sit down and try to think back to the time when things felt “normal”.  After all, it is a very relative idea.  What is normal for me may not be normal for you.  I guess that is the first step, figuring out what normal should look like, then figuring out how to get there.  It seems like such a gradual process that life runs on.  Things creep along, until suddenly it’s out of control.

I’m feeling pretty down and out today, for some reason.  I guess it is the effects of all the meds.  I hardly slept a wink last night… lots of weird, shaky, anxiety-type feelings.  I’ve read that the medicines can do that, as well as contribute to the fatigue and mental confusion/brain fog.  I hate that feeling.  I’m also dealing with muscle aches and pains from the physical tension of everything.  It feels like I ran a marathon… jello legs and all.  Geez

So, I’m going to lay low for one more day, and hopefully tomorrow I can resume life.  I’m really nervous as to try and jump back in, since I usually have the tendency to sort of  push myself when I shouldn’t.  I need to learn how to recognize what my body is telling me, and respond accordingly.  I guess that is a lesson that should apply to most areas of life.

I’m battling extreme cabin fever, but I know that I really can’t chance doing much of anything right now.  I may leave the house for just long enough to get out, but that will be the extent of it.  Maybe a visit to the bookstore wouldn’t hurt.

I’ve also got some photo assignments that I need to do for my classes.  We are starting with black/white photography, which I love.  I’ve gotten so out of the habit of taking random photos.  I need to work on that.  Maybe I’ll take my camera with me, just in case I run across anything particularly interesting.

I guess that is all for now

Until next time

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time for change

January 19, 2008 at 5:45 pm (asthma, blog, Blogroll, christian, god, gym, health, journal, life questions, nashville, normal, potential, questioning, struggle, support, video blog, vlog, weight, weight loss, workout, ymca)

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Experiencing Nashville: Part One – Sunnyside

January 18, 2008 at 2:49 pm (blog, Blogroll, civil war, experiencing nashville, historic nashville, history, nashville, photo, photoblog, photography, pictures)


Part One - Sunnyside

For the past 5 years, I have lived within walking distance to a place called Sunnyside. It is pre-civil war antebellum home that stands right in the middle of what is now known as Sevier Park. I will occasionally park my car in the small lot right by the house and have a quick lunch. I really had no idea that the house was so old, and held such historical importance. Here are some fun bits of history about the place:

(Source: Metropolitan Historical Commission)

Caught in the middle of Battle of Nashville:
Sunnyside was located directly between the Union and Confederate lines prior to the Battle of Nashville on Dec. 15, 1864. Afterwards it served as a hospital for wounded soldiers.

Part One - Sunnyside

The home of Mrs. Jesse Benton, widow of Jesse Benton who left Nashville after a feud with Andrew Jackson. Built in the 1840s, restored in the 1920s by Col. Granville Sevier. Two log cabins east of the house, reputed to have been built by the French for trade with the Chickasaw and Choctaw Indians, may be the oldest structures in Metropolitan Nashville.

Metro Parks Department bought Sunnyside in 1945 from the estate of Col. Granville Sevier.

Note: Deedbook research indicates that the house was built in the 1850s. Documentary and archaeological evidence supports a 19th century date for the construction of the log cabins.

The offices of the Metropolitan Historical Commission and Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission are located at Sunnyside in Sevier Park, 3000 Granny White Pike.

Sunnyside was built in about 1852 by Mary Childress Benton. Its site is part of Nashville’s early settlement history. On July 10, 1788, the state of North Carolina granted Thomas Hardiman 640 acres, equivalent to one square mile, along Brown’s Creek for his service in the Revolutionary War. The property changed hands several times before Mary Benton purchased about 38 acres of it in January 1852. By this time, a house of cedar logs existed on the present home site. Mary Benton was the widow of Jesse Benton and the first cousin of Sarah Childress Polk, wife of President James Polk. Jesse, along with his brother, Thomas Hart Benton, is remembered for engaging in a famous pistol fight with Andrew Jackson in 1813. The ongoing quarrel with Jackson caused both brothers to leave Nashville. Thomas Hart Benton moved to Missouri, becoming a well-known public figure and U.S. Senator. Jesse left Nashville to live and own property in both Texas and Louisiana, refusing to “live longer among people who gave such political preference to a man like Andrew Jackson.” Jesse died in 1843.

Part One - Sunnyside

During construction of the house, Mary lived in the log house and found it so comfortable that she incorporated it into an ell behind the main house, which is a traditional frame building with two rooms downstairs and two upstairs on either side of a central hall. This form is known as an I-house. Sunnyside’s vernacular interpretation of popular antebellum architectural styles combines decorative brackets, usually an Italianate feature, with the central porch, two-story columns, and symmetry of Greek Revival.

Part One - Sunnyside

Mary brought her widowed niece, Minerva Douglass, and her niece’s two children, Henry and Mary, to live in the completed house. Young Mary Douglass gave Sunnyside its name, reflecting its bright, open hillside location. Mary Douglass later married Theodore Francis (Frank) Sevier of Kentucky, and the young couple lived at Sunnyside until the Civil War, when Frank enlisted in the Confederate Army.

John Shute bought the property during the Civil War for his daughter, Mrs. Stephen Childress, whose husband was a relative of Mary Benton. The couple changed the name of the house to Lee Monte to honor Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The Battle of Nashville raged around the house on December 15 and 16, 1864. The property stood between Confederate and Union lines and still bears reminders of the fighting in scars left by minie balls on the porch door and columns. Wounded Union soldiers were treated here in the days following the battle. The Childress family returned after the war and enlarged the farm to 140 acres before selling it in 1875.

In 1882, Dr. L.G. Noel purchased the estate at auction. Noel owned the property longer than any other individual and renamed it Idlewild for his mother’s home in Memphis. Dr. Noel was a prominent Nashville dentist and also taught dentistry classes at Vanderbilt, where he served as chair of dental pathology from 1905 until the dental school closed in 1926. During this period, the property slowly changed from a country estate to a suburban one as modern conveniences like telephones and indoor plumbing were added. A few chickens, horses, and a dairy cow remained, but farming gave way to suburbanization as the Noel family subdivided part of the land.

After Dr. Noel’s death, Granville Sevier, son of Frank and Mary Douglass Sevier, came back to visit the house where his mother had grown up. In 1927, he purchased 20 1/2 acres from the Noel family and brought his mother back to the home she had christened Sunnyside. Sevier renovated the house, adding the one-story brick wings, enlarging the basement, and building the stone office. His heirs sold the property to the city of Nashville after his death in 1945.

Sevier Park opened on this property in 1948. In 1954, a swimming pool was added to the park, and the community center was built in 1963. By 1985, the park had picnic shelters, a ball diamond, tennis courts, a playground, and a basketball court. Sunnyside was occupied by the family of a Parks Department superintendent until 1987. Later, the building housed various community groups. A major restoration was completed in 2004, and Sunnyside is now home to the Metropolitan Historical Commission and Metropolitan Historic Zoning Commission.
If you want to check it out for yourself, here are some directions:

Sunnyside in Sevier Park is located in the Belmont-Hillsboro and 12th South neighborhoods, where 12th Avenue South becomes Granny White Pike. From downtown, take 12th Avenue South south (away from downtown). Sevier Park is located about two and a half miles from downtown. Turn left on Kirkwood and the driveway is on the right. Sunnyside is the yellow Greek Revival house in the middle of the park.

Sunnyside is owned by Metro-Nashville Government and is located in Sevier Park on 12th Avenue South (Granny White Pike) just north of I-440 (no exit off I-440). The grounds are open to the public but the house itself is not.


Stay tuned for the next installment of “Experiencing Nashville” by Sally Kent

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