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Elmwood (Elm Hill) (Davidson Co.)

Elmwood was built in 1860 near Franklin Pike by William Wells (W.W.) Berry (1812-1878) and Jane Eliza White Berry (1820-1905).

Photo from Beautiful Homes and Gardens book, R. Brandau

W.W. married Jane in 1840. W.W. was grandson to Mary Ann Bugg and Gov. William Trousdale of Trousdale Place. He had bought the 200 acre farm in 1852. His plan to build an Italianate style villa was postponed because of the Civil War. The construction resumed in 1866 and finished in 1867. Elmwood was likely constructed near the intersection of Berry Hill Dr. and Berry Hill Place.

His was a good neighborhood: to the east was Melrose, to the south Glen Leven, to the west Mount Alban, and to the north was Capt. John Bradford’s Woodstock. Dr. Berry founded William Berry Wholesale Drugs Co., a wholesale drug firm based in downtown Nashville, and did very well with the Nashville community after 1834. Berry also accumulated substantial land with cotton plantations along the Arkansas River. By the 1850s, he was recognized as one of Nashville’s wealthiest citizens. In 1854, Dr. Berry became a director of Planter’s Bank. About that time, his company was renamed Berry, Demoville & Co. Dr. Berry’s partner was John Felix DeMoville. [Side note: Felix and Mary L. Philips DeMoville married in 1854. About 1857, they built a home at Seventh Ave and Church St. where they lived until 1902. Then Castner-Knott bought their home and razed it to put up the downtown store.]

Later, he was involved in other ventures: on the board of directors of Planters’ Bank of Tennessee for nearly 10 years, president of Third National Bank from inception in 1865 until 1876, president of Equitable Insurance. He owned large plantations in Arkansas. Their son, Horatio Berry, married Nannie Smith and lived at her family home Hazel Path and along the way also purchased several other historic homes in Davidson and Sumner counties.

After Dr. Berry’s death, his son, William Wells (W.W.) Berry, Jr. (1849-1922), Alice Mary Allen Berry (1851-1928) and their family inherited Elmwood. In 1892, the Berry family moved to a townhouse on Vauxhall Place (current Ninth Ave. So.) while Jane remained at Elmwood. W.W. was president of American National Bank. Next, W.W.’s sister, Emma Berry Cheatham (1858-1910) and her husband Dr. Richard Cheatham (1855-1905) lived at the property. [Side note: Richard’s father Dr. William Archer Cheatham was the third husband of Adelicia Hayes Cheatham of Fairvue and Belmont.]

From 1910-1912, 244 acres were subdivided with W.W., Jr. retaining the house and 60 acres. After W.W., Jr. died, Alice continued living at the mansion, and their son Frank Allen Berry (1885-1965) and wife Eleanor Redway Berry (1884-1945) and their family also shared Elmwood. Frank and Eleanor renamed the mansion Elm Hill. Frank was an attorney who founded Smith and Berry law firm in 1914 and served on the board of First American National Bank as well as president and chairman for many years. In 1922, Frank reformed the practice into Bass, Berry & Sims (with members Frank M. Bass and Cecil Sims).

In 1928, a major fire destroyed Elmwood. Afterward, the house was razed and the remaining land developed into the neighborhood known as Berry Hill. The Berry family moved to Lynnwood estate in the Belle Meade area. By the 1930s, Frank and Eleanor moved their family to a new home on Ensworth Ave. when that neighborhood was developed in the 1940s and 50s. Eleanor’s obituary noted that she passed away at her Ensworth Ave. residence. The Berry family is remembered through the streets Berry Hill Dr., Berry Hill Place and Berry Rd. See Hazel Path, Lynnwood, Trousdale Place


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