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Belle Vue (Belle View)-Franklin Pike

Belle Vue (View), built in 1840 by Robert Woods, was located at the intersection of what is now Franklin Pike and South Douglas Ave. - likely very near Zanies Comedy Club.

William Tyler (W.T.) Berry (1813-1889) and Mary Margaret Tannehill Berry (1815-1869) purchased property in 1849. They wed in 1833. Mary Margaret was the daughter of Wilkins Tannehill, president of the Bank of Nashville and owner of a printing business. Berry was a famous bookseller with a store downtown (No. 30 Public Square) called Berry’s Bookstore (1835-1876). The bookstore was the most influential in early Nashville, and to maintain its excellent collection, Berry made regular trips to England and Europe. The gardens in the front of the house were very beautiful. In 1849-50, Berry along with Washington Barrow, John Kirkman and others incorporated Nashville Gas-Light Company. In 1866, W.T. was an investor in the Church and Spruce Street Railroad Company. After Mary’s death in 1869, W.T. left to live with a son, C.D. Berry, nearby.

W.T.’s daughter, Samuella (Sammie) Berry Kirkman and husband Van Leer Kirkman were the next owners. Van Leer has spent some time accumulating the land of first Waverly estate and then the Belle Vue lands - totalling about 250 acres in that area of south Nashville. Van Leer then divorced Sammie and married Kate Thompson. Then the new Kirkman couple moved in 1887 to live in their new mansion, Oak Hill.

In 1889, Sammie and Van Leer’s daughter, Ella Berry Kirkman Douglas (1869-1956), and her husband Bruce Douglas (1853-1909) married and moved into Belle View. Bruce was the son of W. Byrd Douglas of Richland Grove. W. T. had returned to reside at Belle View and with them until his death that year.

After 1911, Ella purchased the mansion from the estate and lived there after Bruce’s death until her death in 1956. During this era, the home was also known as the “Douglas Home.” The house was sold to a group of four men including Nashville attorney Reber Boult. The group razed the house for commercial development about 1960. The name derives from the view from the house. Douglas Ave. is named for Bruce Douglas. See also Oak Hill, Richland Grove


Nashville Pikes, Vol I pp. 58-60

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