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Childress-Ray House

Updated: Feb 19

Located at 225 North Academy St. in Murfreesboro, the Childress-Ray House was built in 1847 for James “Jim” Bivins (1796-1860) and Leodicie “Docia” Brashear Bivins (1802-1883). They wed 1820. The style is a 2-story original Greek Revival.

Nine years later, in 1856, Bivins sold the property to Jefferson Moutford Leatherman (1809-1877), a local merchant and planter, and Malinda Moore Fletcher Leatherman (1820-1882). From 1856-1860, Leatherman served as Postmaster in Murfreesboro.

Eighteen years later, in 1874, Maj. John Whitsett Childress (1807-1884) and second wife Mary E. Phillips Childress (1829-1900) bought property. [ John’s first wife was Sarah Josey Williams Childress - 1815-1850 with marriage in 1831.] John and Mary wed in 1851. Childress made renovations that reflected Italianate and Colonial Revival styles (especially after a tornado destroyed the front porch). Childress had practiced law, been a director of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, director of Bank of Tennessee (1854-56), president of Planter’s Bank of Tennessee in Murfreesboro (1859-61), and president of First National Bank of Murfreesboro (1872-80). He was brother-in-law to President James K. Polk. During the Civil War, the family moved to Georgia. After the Civil War, they returned. The property was in poor shape, and the Childress family moved to Nashville. After John died, the family kept the property.

In 1900, the farm was sold to Peter Raleigh Miller (1859-1927) and Mary May Edwards Miller (1869-1942). Miller was an undertaker and furniture dealer with P. R. Miller & Co.

Twenty years later, in 1920, Miller sold to Barclay Martin Rucker (1870-1925) and Daisy Dean Price Rucker (1871-1959). They married in 1903. His first wife was Vashie L. Brown Rucker (1871-?)(m. 1892). He was at least a 3-term circuit court clerk. He had farmed for several years and then gone into politics. He was a justice of the peace in 1906 and then a few years later got involved with the circuit court. He was a judge from 1911-14. Two years after Rucker's death, Daisy sold the home and moved to North Carolina where her daughters lived.

In 1927, (Thomas) Balaam Newsom (1873-1936) and Sadie Rosetta "Etta"Starnes Newsom (1874-1949) bought the property. Their youngest daughter, Mary Alice Newsom Ray (1916-2015), married Thomas Kelly Ray (1917-1987) in 1941 and they resided at the Childress-Ray house. Three adjoining apartments were added in the 1950s. Mary Alice lived at the Childress-Ray House until her death. She was a founding member of the Rutherford County Historical Society.

In 2014, Sandra “Sandi” Bayliss purchased the home, updated it, and developed it into a bed and breakfast. Sandi had rented one of the apartments in her college years from Alice. In 2019, The Summer Party, a Main Street fundraiser, was held at the Childress House. NRHP 197


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