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Acklen Hall

Updated: Jan 16

Perched prominently on the crest of a hill off West End Ave, Acklen Hall initiated the new west Nashville suburb of West Park (soon to be called Acklen Park).


Photo from Nashville Public Lib Public Collection


The two story mansion was built in the 1890s by Col. Joseph Hayes Acklen (1850-1938) and Jeannette Catherine Tillotson Acklen (1871-1955), Acklen Hall was located off West End Ave. Acklen was son of Adelicia (Fairvue) and Joseph Alexander Smith Acklen of Belmont renown and practiced law on and off in Nashville and in Louisiana. His maternal grandfather was Capt. ohn Hunt, founder of Huntsville, AL. His first wife was Hattie Bethell Hayes (1851-1873) from Columbia whom he married in 1871. Sadly, Hattie died young.


Col. Acklen was a widow for 16 years until he married Jeannette in 1890. He oversaw family sugar plantations in Louisiana near Patterson. He was a representative from Louisiana to Congress from 1878-188. Upon his return to Nashville, he was a Nashville City Council member 1900-1904, president of the Tennessee State bar association 1901-02, was general insurance counsel of Tennessee from 1903-07. He served as the Middle Tennessee counsel for the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad from 1907-11. Their daughter Jeannette Tillotson Acklen married Oscar F. Noel, and they resided at Noelton.


In the 1930s, the Victorian-style house became part of one of the first gated communities in the region - first as West End Park, later as Acklen Park. West End Park was envisioned as an exclusive residential community stretching from 31st Ave. to the then-railroad tracks to the south - now I-440. A few homes were built on the slope facing West End Ave. but there was no interest in building on the other side of the hill at the time. Col. Acklen tried to capture the interest from the Centennial Exposition just north of the site as well as imitating similar residential developments in the Atlanta area at the time.


John Bond Atkinson Howe, Sr. (1877-1937) and Laura Brannin Barbour Howe (1879-1950) owned the home next whose address became 3300 Fairmont Dr. They wed in 1906. Howe owned and operated two ice manufacturing plants including Farmors Ice Co. After Howe died in 1937 from drowning in the Cumberland River near Shelby Park, his widow and daughters remained there for years. Laura Barbour Howe married Dr. Dudley Cobb Pilcher, and they resided at Deepwood off Hillsboro Rd. Ann Howe wed Dr. Frederic Tremaine "Josh" Billings in 1942.


In 1960, unmarried daughter, Elizabeth Patton “Betsy” Howe (1914-1983) resided there when a fire destroyed Acklen Hall. Betsy moved to Washington Hall. The original stone wall remains along the boundary along West End between 31st Ave. and Murphy Rd.


The house was demolished the next year in 1961 as the area was prepared for commercial development. The Acklen West End, apartment and condominium complex, was built on the home site, the Blackstone Apartments are now what was the front of the estate, and there are 3 large office buildings along the front drive. Among several other businesses in Acklen Park, Russell W. Brothers Insurance Co. had a building there in the 1970s/ 80s. Also, because of the family ties, the name Acklen Hall has been used on the Belmont University campus which is only a short distance away. The estate is also remembered by Acklen Park Dr. and the Acklen Park Condominiums. See Deepwood, Fairvue, Belmont.Noelton


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