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Hillhurst: A North Nashville landmark into the 1970s

Updated: Apr 18

Image from Beautiful Homes & Gardens

Elizabeth Dwyer Philps (1801-1871) inherited land from her family and built Hillhurst about 1851. The home was located somewhere along Hillhurst Dr. between I-65 and Dickerson Pike. Elizabeth was married to William Duncan Philips (1804-1879) in 1828. Their daughter, Mary L. Philips Demoville married John Felix Demoville, and they resided at Elmwood.

John Hill Aiken and his wife purchased and remodeled Hillhurst. After John’s death, Robert D. (R.D.) Sanford and Maude Sanford bought the property. They had owned Clover Bottom.

In 1907, James Gorman (J. G.) Creveling, Jr. (1871-1939), his wife Frances McDonald McDowell-Baird Creveling (1870-1956), and their family owned and lived there with 187 acres. Creveling was a mining engineer from St. Louis. He was a director of Compania Minera Del Tiro General in 1902. Creveling was the first Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner from 1923-1925. Gov. Austin Peay directed him to spearhead further state highway development. The effort was part of the Good Roads Movement in the larger Country Life Movement. The Crevelings raised cattle on their property. J.G. died in 1939, and his widow and son stayed on at Hillhurst. They sold 100 acres in 1940 to Richland Dairy Farm owned by W. G. Sanford and located on Murfreesboro Rd. The property was later developed for Hillhurst subdivision.

Maud Minerva Hadley Robinson Cantrell (1877-1966) lived there from 1944-1964. Maude was the daughter of Dr. Robert and Lenora Hadley of Vaucluse. Maud had been married to Warrick Gale Robinson Sr (1875-1956). Porter Cantrell was Maude’s third husband. After Maude divorced Porter, she invited her niece, Bitsy Phillips, to stay with her on weekends and summers. (Bitsy’s home was in East Nashville. Her father was mentally ill and confined at Stephenson Sanitorium on Murfreesboro Rd.; her mother was allowed an apartment onsite there.) Maud managed the Robinson Grocery and Meat Market. Hilhurst still had 127 acres. Bitsy married Warren Riegle. After Warren died in 1964, Bitsy moved to Green Hills to be near her children’s school; simultaneously, Maud moved to an apartment above Phillips-Robinson Funeral Home. Bitsy, her brother, Garner Robinson, and brother-in-law, Dayton Phillips, founded and ran the business.

After 1964, the house was vacant, and burned down seven years later in 1971. See Sylvan Hall, Vaucluse


Nashville Pikes, Vol 5 pp. 234-236

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