top of page
  • Jay Brothers

James Johnston Home/ Isola Bella/ Thurso: Oman's Pioneering Rebirth of Brentwood

Photo by Skye Marthaler

Isola Bella / Thurso was built about 1840 by James Johnston (1810-1884) and Narcissa Merrit Johnston (1816-1908).

It is located at 1112 Franklin Rd. south of Concord Lane in Brentwood. The house originally sat on 6,000 acres. Johnston family members inhabited it until the early 20th century. Over the decades, the farm land was sold off. After the Battle of Nashville, the home was used to treat wounded soldiers and the property was heavily used since it sat beside the main hard surfaced road in the area - Franklin Rd. Isola Bella remained vacant for years and was used to store hay and tobacco.

In the 1930s/ 40s, a number of families purchased older plantation homes to remodel and led to a rebirth and new growth for the Brentwood area. Part of their efforts included establishing and growing a fox hunting sport. The Omans were among the pioneers to lead this effort. In 1945, John A. Oman, Jr. and Martha Oman bought it and did major restoration work. They had lived at Boxwood in Belle Meade. John founded Crab Orchard Stone Company in 1929 and later took over Oman Construction Company. Oman Construction Co. was in a variety of fields: highway and heavy construction, railroads, bridges, pipelines, most kinds of infrastructure and did so domestically and internationally. Mrs. Oman lived there until her death in 1975. Their relatives, the Stirton Omans also purchased a home to remodel in the area - Ashlawn.

Then Mr. and Mrs. Dave A. Alexander purchased the property in 1976. Alexander was a long-time attorney in Franklin. The Alexander family resided there until 1997.

From 1997-2006, Joe Green owned the property. In 2014, Isola Bella was on the market with 9 acres. The name Isola Bella came from the Alexander family who gave it the Italian name for “beautiful island “ celebrating its beauty in the middle of the Brentwood area. The Thurso name came from the Oman family effort to honor John’s Scottish heritage. NRHP in 1976. See Boxwood, Ashlawn


Recent Posts

See All

Riverview: Bye bye because of I-65

Near Murfreesboro Rd. and Hwy 96. Circa 1820 Built by John Nichols (1789-1863) and Elizabeth McCown Nichols (1799-1881). They wed in 1814. His father had a Revolutionary War grant in Edgefield in Nas

Hightower Place/ Buck Davis Place

Old Wilson PK south of Old Smyrna Rd. in the current Corondele subdivision. Circa 1800 Richard R. Hightower (1764-1820) and Nancy L. Smith Hightower (1770-1849( were early settlers in the Brentwood ar


bottom of page