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Cox House @ Harpeth Academy: One of the last Mansions built in 1800s Franklin

Photo by Skye Marthaler

In 1891, Nicholas Nichol Cox (1837-1912) and Mary “Mollie” Slayden Cox (1841-1925) built this mansion at 150 Franklin Road and was one of the last large mansions of the nineteenth century built. The Cox family moved from the Owen-Cox/ Maplelawn to this newly built home. It sat on 5.8 acres on the Harpeth River.

Nicholas was born in Bedford Co., TN and raised in Texas. He studied law at Cumberland Law School and graduated in 1858. He practiced across Tennessee. In 1859, he married Mary. He served particularly with General Nathan Bedford Forrest rising to the rank of colonel in the Civil War. At war’s end, in 1866, he returned to his Maplelawn farm and his law practice in Franklin as well as his farm life. Nicholas was elected as a U.S. representative to the Congress 1891 and re-elected four more times. He retired in 1901, returned to Franklin, and resumed his law practice and also got into banking.

The family continued residence in the house and renovated it in 1972 and 1975. Their son, Parmenio E. Cox (1864-1932), remained at the property for years and became the first State archeologist and geologist and was influential in exploration of Mississippi Mound culture and Old Town. Another son, Carter Cox and his wife Bessie Blair Gordon Cox built Coralto in Franklin. The two brothers along with Bessie’s relatives were able to establish a Federal Park at the gravesite of Gov. Meriwether Lewis in 1925 - who they considered a forgotten hero. Their sister, Imogene Cox, resided at Inglehame.

In 1969, Harpeth Academy bought the property. In 1980, Cox House was about to be razed for campus upgrades, but that action was fought and won. It is currently part of the Battle Ground Academy campus. NRHP 1980 See also Owen-Cox House/Maplelawn, Inglehamme


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