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Cedar Hill/ George Washington Campbell House

Updated: Dec 2, 2023

Cedar Hill was built by George Washington Campbell (1769-1848) and Harriet Stoddert Campbell (1788-1848) in 1843.

Harriet was the daughter of Benjamin and Rebecca Stoddert. Benjamin was a tobacco businessman from Maryland, and under President John Adams, he served as the first Secretary of the Navy.

Campbell married Harriet in 1812. He served as a Congressman in the U.S. House from 1803 to 1809 and served as Chair of both the Ways and Means Committee and the Committee on Foreign Relations. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1811 to 1814. He resigned to become Secretary of the Treasury in Pres. James Madison’s Cabinet. During this time, Harriet helped Dolley Madison to save items from the White House prior to the British torching the Executive Residence. He served in varied capacities for Presidents Monroe and Adams. He served as Minister to Russia from 1818-1820. Upon his return to Tennessee, he served as a judge of the U.S. District Court of Tennessee.

He became a large landowner in Tennessee including a plantation in Giles County. He owned numerous plots of land in downtown Nashville including some on top of Cedar Hill, also called Campbell’s Hill.

In 1843, he sold the land to the City of Nashville which then transferred it to the State of Tennessee. With that arrangement, the legislature designated Nashville as Tennessee’s capital city and the new Capitol Building was constructed atop the highest point in downtown Nashville. [The capital had moved between Nashville, Murfreesboro and Knoxville in the early years of Tennessee.]

Washington and Harriet constructed a fine mansion which they named Cedar Hill at the foot of the hill below the Capitol. Cedar Hill was sold out of the family, and Tennessee Governor William G. “Parson” Brownlow (1865-1869) lived there during his term.

In 1868, the Catholic Church bought Cedar Hill and its property and established St. Bernard Academy and Convent. Six members of the Sisters of Mercy came from Dublin, Ireland to open the school. [ In 1905, the institution moved southwest to it current 21st Ave. South location.] Cedar Hill was later demolished for the construction of the War Memorial Building and Plaza which opened in 1925. The new War Memorial Building served as home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1939-1943. In Nashville’s earlier years, Cedar St. was a reminder of the Campbell family legacy.


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