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Dr. L. A. Bowman Home: Nashville's African-American Rockefeller

Just west of the Korean Veterans Memorial terminus and 8th Ave. South roundabout and the site of the current Westin Hotel is the site of Dr. Lemuel Arthur Bowman's home. Dr. Bowman (1887-1965) resided at 317 8th Ave. South. He was married three times: Janie, Eva Lowery Cardell (1899-1984), and Leora Watkins (1916-1968). Dr. Bowman and Eva were certainly a power couple in their day.


Dr. Bowman graduated from Walden University Meharry Medical School and became a prominent dentist. His dental practice was located at 317 Eighth Ave. North. He made a great deal of money from both East Nashville real estate and East Coast real estate investments. Dr. Bowman started at least 12 businesses in the area. After a 2 decade dental career, he intended to retire in 1932, but was asked by the Baptist Sunday School Publishing Board of the Baptist Convention to become Treasurer. Because of his financial prowess, he was known as the "Rockefeller" of the African-American community. At some point, he and his family also lived at 3514 Geneva Circle near the TSU campus.


Eva was a Nashville native and attended Pearl High School, Walden University and Tennessee A&I State Normal College (now TSU). She was a cosmetologist by training, and after her marriage to Dr. Bowman, she operated several businesses including Bowman Beauty and Barber College and Bowman Art School. She also was an organizer and a president of the Nashville Chapter of Beauty Culture which supported thousands of beauticians across the state. In 1951, she was appointed the Negro Chief Inspector and Examiner to the Board of Cosmetology in Tennessee.

She served as president of the South Nashville Civic League which organized the formation of Rose Park and Easely Center. In 1959-60, Eva helped organize food and supplies to the Tent City African-American strikers in Fayette Co. near Memphis.


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