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Idlewild (Neill S. Brown House): Originated the name Edgefield

Idlewild was located at 809 Main Street in Edgefield (near the current intersection of Main St. and Neill Ave.) across the river from downtown Nashville.


Built about 1848, it was the home of Neill Smith Brown (1810-1886) and Mary Ann Trimble Brown (1818-1895). Mary Ann was the daughter of Judge Trimble. In the late 1840s, the area was home to just a few large estates including Dr. John Shelby’s Shelby Hall and Robert Weakley’s Lockeland. The area was primarily fields east of Main St. to the banks of the Cumberland about the 1850s. He had a large estate near Eighth and Main St. He is given credit for naming the city of Edgefield - as he called the view of the area from downtown Nashville. Edgefield developed as a pleasant, bucolic community at the beginning as a place across the river from a dirty, bustling downtown Nashville.


Gov. Brown was the 14th governor of TN (1847-1849) and the only governor to live in East Nashville. Brown helped found Tennessee’s Whig Party and was a member of the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1837-1846. He served as Speaker of the House during part of that service and was thought of as one of Tennessee’s greatest Whig leaders. He served one term in 1848 as Governor of Tennessee. He then served as U.S. Minister to Russia under President Zachary Taylor in 1850. He remained very involved in both Tennessee and national politics. The property was vacant for a long time before being razed in 1936.

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