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Fatherland (2)

Fatherland was built in 1855 on Sevier St. in East Nashville by Dr. John Shelby (1785-1859) and wife Anna Marie Minnik Shelby.

He gave it to his daughter, Priscilla Shelby Phelan (1815-1893) and her second husband Judge John Dennis Phelan (1810-1879) for their marriage in 1872. Phelan’s first marriage was to Mary Ann Phelan (1815-1870). It originally had 13 acres. Phelan was an attorney first in New Orleans, then he returned to his native Huntsville. He also edited the newspaper, the Democrat. In 1836, Phelan was elected Attorney General of Alabama for 2 years. In 1839, he moved to Tuskaloosa and was elected to the state House of Representatives and became Speaker. In 1850-53, Phelan was elected judge to the Circuit Court. Judge Phelan served on the Alabama Supreme Court 1851-53, 1863-65 and 1865-68.

Between 1865-1870, St. Stephens Episcopal Church (predecessor to St. Ann’s) was in financial trouble. In 1869, the judge became a professor of law at the University of the South until his death while residing at Fatherland. Judge Phelan helped by giving the church a lot in the neighborhood to sell to match the bishop’s contribution. (Priscilla’s first husband was Nashville merchant David Williams.) In addition, Priscilla gave two lots to the church to sell. Her proviso was to change the church’s name to honor her grandmother, Anna Minnik, to St. Ann’s.

Sold in 1919, it became the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers. In 1952, it was bought by the Nashville Housing Authority and demolished for an expansion of the James Cayce Housing Development. Dr. Shelby also built Boscobel for his other daughter, Anna. There are several areas recognizing the Shelby family: Boscobel St., Fatherland St., and Shelby Ave. See Boscobel, Shelby Mansion/ Fatherland/ McClure’s Hall

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