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Ensworth (Hayes mansion): Site of the original St. Thomas Hospital

Updated: Apr 4



The Ensworth estate was one of the Hayes family properties in Nashville. It connected the Hayes and Boyd families.


Ensworth was completed in 1862 by Henry Martyn Hayes (1832-1884) and Mary Lemira Douglas Boyd Hayes (1836-1875). Its address was 709 N. 12th Street (current Hayes St.) In the 1860s, the Nashville city limit was about Hayes St. He was the son of Oliver Bliss and Sarah Clements Hightower Hayes (Rokeby) and the brother of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Cheatham (Belmont) and Corinne Hayes Lawrence (Hillside). Hayes actively farmed his Ensworth lands. Mary was the daughter of Maj. John and Lemira Douglass Boyd who were major landowners just west of downtown Nashville who owned a mansion near downtown and a country home, Seven Hills, south of town.


Next Judge Jacob McGavock Dickinson (1851-1928) owned it before 1890. He was president of the Tennessee Bar Association from 1889-1893. From 1891-93, he served on the Tennessee Supreme Court. And for 2 years from 1897-99, he was both a Professor of Law at Vanderbilt University School of Law and an attorney for the Louisville & Nashville Railroad. In 1899, he moved to Chicago for work and then served in government service. Dickinson married Martha Maxwell Overton (1853-1917) in 1876. Their son, Gen. Jacob McGavock Dickinson, was the owner of Travellers Rest and River Grange.


The Dickinson family sold Ensworth and its 8 acres in 1898 to the Daughters of Charity. They purchased the property to start a School of Nursing and a hospital called Protestant Hospital. It was renamed St. Thomas Sanitarium in honor local Bishop Thomas S. Byrne. By 1902, a new St. Thomas Sanitarium (Hospital) was constructed near the old home, and the converted mansion was a part of the growing campus. In 1974, the hospital moved from the midtown location west to the suburb just north of Belle Meade and Hillwood. The next year, in 1975, the old Ensworth mansion was demolished as Baptist Hospital took over the facilities and expanded space was needed for parking. See also Belmont, Buddeke-Byne House, Rokeby, Travellers Rest, Seven Hills

[Side note: Before his death, Gen. Dickinson received the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service to the United States.]


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