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Greenland: A Founder of Central University (Vanderbilt University)

Updated: 6 hours ago

Whites Creek Pike Nashville, TN (near current intersection with Briley Parkway)

Circa 1857. 2-story Italianate style brick mansion

In 1857, the Rt. Rev. Dr. Alexander Little Page (A.L.P.) Green (1806-1874) and Mary Ann Elizabeth Elliston Green (1817-1881) purchased 300 acres on Whites Creek Pike (a historical marker is at 4015 Whites Creek Pike).

They had lived in the Nashville area, and now built a large brick mansion which was named Greenland on the land which was 5 miles north of Nashville. On the farm, they raised corn, sheep, cattle among other items. Dr. Green also purchased real estate. At the start of his career, Green was a traveling preacher for the Methodist Church in the 1820s. In 1831, he moved to Nashville.

When the Methodist Episcopal Church South was formed in 1845, Dr. Green became Bishop for the Tennessee Conference. He established the Southern Methodist Publishing House in 1854 with his own credit. He was critical in moving the Methodist General Conference to Nashville. When Ft. Donelson fell in 1862, the Green family left for the Deep South of Alabama. After the Civil War, Gov. Brownlow helped get Dr. Green a pardon from Pres. Johnson.

In 1866, in Memphis, Dr. Green chaired a conference to create a new southern university. Working with other bishops - Robert Paine, Landon Garland, Holland McTyeire, they planned to raise funds for a Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. Because Bishop McTyeire was able to secure founding money from Cornelius Vanderbilt, they changed the name of the university to honor Vanderbilt. Because of the bishops’ ties to the city, the publishing connections, and the centrality of the city, the leadership chose to locate the new university in Nashville. When Dr. Green and Vanderbilt were conversing about the university’s location, the Commodore noticed on a railroad map that Nashville was strategically located in the South for easy access and was told about Dr. Green’s efforts to start the Publishing House there as well. Vanderbilt chose Nashville as the location. The Vanderbilt University Board of Trust named Dr. Green treasurer. Dr. Green got Bishop Garland to become President. Dr. Green later became the first minister of McKendree Methodist Church in downtown Nashville. The first elementary school in the Whites Creek area was renamed Alex Green Academy in his honor in 1887.

After Mary Ann’s death, son Frank Waters Green (1836-1904) inherited the plantation and lived there with his wife Martha “Patsy” Hannah Anderson Green (1839-1908). Frank was a merchant, a grocer and a fire insurance agent. Their daughter, Julia McClung Green, became a renowned local educator herself and eventually oversaw elementary education for Nashville’s public schools for years. In 1948, Nashville Public Schools opened an elementary school on Hobbs Rd. near Green Hills and named it Julia Green School in her honor. No further family resided at the property after Martha’s death. Green Lane runs from Whites Creek Pike to Knight Dr. as a reminder of the long ago plantation of Greenland.


Nashville Pikes Vol 5, pp. 138-140

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