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Casa Loma

Settling on the southwestern outskirts of Nashville, Brent Spence (1796-1868) and Elizabeth Shute Spence (1799-?) built Casa Loma in 1831 on the crest of the hill at Charlotte Ave. and Hill Ave south of the Cumberland River - just west of the present-day Richland Hills Apartments.


They married in 1824. Elizabeth’s father, John Shute, gave the couple about 300 acres. Elizabeth’s sister was Susannah Shute Harding of Belle Meade Plantation. Casa Loma was built in Greek Revival style. Brent was a partner with Peter Bass in the trading company, Bass and Spence, about 1818. In 1831, as well, he was one of a syndicate of partners to charter Charlotte Pike. The Spence family owned the property for nearly 60 years.


In 1891, they sold Casa Loma to Powhatan Bowling of Whitworth Place. Powhatan’s first wife was Gertrude Bosley Bowling (1843-1863) whom he wed in 1862. Gertrude was the granddaughter of Charles Bosley, and the Casa Loma land was just northeast of the Bosley tract. They had a daughter, Gertrude Bosley Bowling (1863-1962) who married John Leonard Whitworth of Whitworth. Powhatan’s second wife was Augusta “Gus” A. Sexton Bowling (1853-1927).


Gus sold Casa Loma in 1904 to Judge John Turner Lellyett (1862-1925) and Mary Roberta “Lady” Weakley Lellyett (1870-1943). They wed in 1871. John practiced with Judge E.H. East, J. M. Anderson, Frank Slemmons, and others. He served as City Attorney of Nashville at one point, and in 1916, Judge Lellyett was elected Chancellor of the Nashville District. Judge Lellyett also served as a substitute judge of the Chancery Court.


In 1918, the Lellyett family sold Casa Loma to Lillian Smallman Cowden (1871-1937) with 75 acres. Her husband was Rev. John Brandon Cowden (1876-1965). They wed in 1910. Rev. Cowden was a minister of the Disciples of Christ, and after teaching at two Christian colleges, was pastor of a church in McMinnville prior to returning to Nashville. They may have also purchased a large farm across the river in Bells Bend - referenced as John B. Cowden Farm - which is now known as Bells Bend Farm.


After Lillian died, Rev. Cowden subdivided 60 acres of the estate and remained there until 1957. Later, Rev. Cowden sold Casa Loma, moved in with his son’s family on Ensworth Ave., and Casa Loma was destroyed. The name Casa Loma may come from Spanish “casa” - home and “loma” broad hill. See Belle Meade Plantation, Whitworth Place


Sources:

Nashville Pikes Vo. 4 Charlotte, Clifton and Hydes Ferry Pikes

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