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Glenstrae: Battle of Nashville Fighting and Faulkner's Fancy

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

The oldest part of the house incorporated Nolen’s Station blockhouse which had been around in the 1780s.


The Glenstrae estate was built on Middle Franklin Pike (Granny White Pike) near Glenwood Ave. The site, which is just south of the present-day Lipscomb University campus, was one of the former station outposts outside of the fort of Nashville. The Nolen family that went further south and settled in what became Nolensville built the blockhouse in the very early settlement days. The path led from Nashville to Franklin.


The Johns family arrived in the early 1800s and resided there for several generations until the turn of the century. The home was used as headquarters by Conf. Lt. Gen. A.. Stewart and was in the thick of the fighting around Granny White Pk. John Johns III (1833-1898) married his neighbor Mary Elizabeth Bradford Johns (1836-1913) in 1873. She lived at Woodstock (1)/ Zenaida with her parents, Edward and Virginia Austin Campbell Bradford. Edward had been raised in Nashville and had gone to Mississippi to make his fortune as a planter - which he did. The Bradfords constructed Woodstock (1) as a summer home. The original home burned, and another rebuilt nearby.


In 1866, Johns’ participation in the construction and operation of the Nashville and Middle Franklin Horse Railroad Company was approved by the Tennessee Legislature. Neighbors included the Childress and Compton families.


In 1902, James “Jim” Hardy Baird (1866-1915) and MaryLou Freeman Baird bought the property and about 13 years later, in 1915, they finally built their Glenstrae mansion. They married in 1896. Baird’s family was from Baird’s Mill in Wilson County, and his father, Dan Baird, published the Wilson County News and started the Southern Lumberman, the leading newsletter in the lumber industry. In 1881, James moved to Nashville and helped publish the Southern Lumberman from there. In 1889, he was secretary and general manager of Southern Lumberman, a weekly trade publication. He was also a director of Merchants Bank and was an officer of Baird-Roberts Publishing Co. in 1897. Baird was also on the board of trustees of the Old University of Nashville when they were reorganizing to form Montgomery Bell Academy. Baird was killed by a train on a business trip. In Ridley Wills’ Nashville Pikes Vol. I, he relates how the Baird family found plenty of mime balls and other detritus from the Civil War fighting.


According to a story in The Tennessean from 1983, William Faulkner had a serious crush on the Baird daughter, Helen, in 1925.. The Baird family had a summer home in Mississippi and often visited New Orleans. Faulkner saw her in New Orleans and had an aunt who was a neighbor of the Baird family. The family seems to be remembered through Glenwood Ave. and nearby Glendale Lane to the south. The name Glenstrae came from Baird family Scottish roots. See Woodstock(1)/ Zenaida


Sources:

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