top of page
  • Jay Brothers

Emerald Hill (Eagle's Nest) - Home of Clarksville's "Eagle Orator"

Updated: Jun 25

200 North Second St. Clarksville, TN

Circa 1833. 2-story red brick Greek Revival with 2-story front portico

Photo by Nyttend

Marion McClure Henry (1812-1882) received a generous wedding gift from her uncle, Thomas W. Frazier. Frazier built the mansion soon to be known as Eagle’s Nest and later Emerald Hill on the crest of one of Clarksville’s hills on North Second St. Marion wed Gustavus Adolphus Henry (1804-1880) in 1833, and the couple’s home overlooked the junction of the Red and Cumberland Rivers. Marion was the daughter of Susan and Hugh McClure of Drane-Leigh House/ Fairfield Farm, the sister of Walter Drane of Drane-Patchett-Catlett House and Drane-Foust Home. Marion was known as “the belle of Clarksville.”

After enjoying a successful legal practice and political life in Kentucky, Henry moved to Clarksville upon his marriage. He again grew a successful law practice and ran three plantations - in Tennessee, in Mississippi (after 1835) and in Arkansas (after 1854). He was very involved in the Whig Party. He was a famous legislator in the Kentucky State House of Representatives (1831-33), was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives for one term (1851-53). While he passionately gave speeches to try to keep the Union together, when Tennessee seceded, he joined the Confederacy and was elected to the Confederate Congress.

Photo by Austin Peay State University Alumni Assoc.

Henry was known as the “Eagle Orator of TN,”and his home sometimes called the “Eagle’s Nest.” When Union forces threatened the home, their commander, Col. Sander Dewees Bruce, recalled Henry’s spellbinding “Save the Union” speech prior to Fort Sumter and saved the home. Fort Henry, whose surrender opened the Tennessee River all the way to Alabama, was named in Henry’s honor.

After Gustavus’ death, his son, Patrick Henry (1846-1908) and wife Ellen Barker Henry (1851-1890) inherited the property. They wed in 1871. Ellen's parents were John and Mary Barker of Cloverlands. Patrick lived most of the time in Washington, DC as representative of the Mississippi and Arkansas River Commission. He owned a plantation in Mississippi and large tracts of land in Arkansas as well. Patrick and Ellen “summered” at Emerald Hill and closed Emerald Hill in winters. Their daughter, Susan Henry (?-1880) wed George D. Martin in 1855. George was a lawyer and planter in the area. Susan and George’s daughter, Susan Henry Martin, wed Martin L. Cross in 1897. In the 1890s, the Meriwether family's Eupedon home burned. Because their sons were to attend Southwestern University, the Meriwethers rented Emerald Hill for a period of time.

Patrick Henry Cross, Gustavus’ great-great-grandson, inherited Emerald Hill by 1936. Patrick H. Cross (1898-?) married Mary Frances Pennebaker Cross (1903-1980) in 1925. Since they were childless, in 1966, they deeded the property to Austin Peay with the expectation that it would continue to be called Emerald Hill. Emerald Hill had two major renovations: the late 1800s and in 1909.

It is owned by the State of Tennessee in care of Austin Peay State University and is currently the home of the Austin Peay State University National Alumni Association. The home was originally called Eagle’s Nest because Gustavus Henry had the nickname of “Eagle Orator of Tennessee.” At some point, the name was changed to Emerald Hill because of the color of the grass of the hill upon which the mansion sits. NRHP 1971 See also Drane-Leigh House/ Fairfield Farm, Drane-Patchett-Catlett, Drane-Foust Home, Cloverlands


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page