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John M. Gray Home (Wilmor Wedding Gift)/ Westminster Pres. Church

Updated: Jun 15

3900 West End Ave. Nashville, TN

Circa 1906. 2-story Georgian Colonial mansion


In 1906, Col. B. F. and Sallie M. Wilson gave daughter Rebecca “Reba” Franklin Wilson Gray (1878-1954) and son-in-law John Moffitt Gray, Jr. (1869-1945), part of their property for a house.


From Historical and Beautiful Country Homes


At the time, that part of the West End/ Harding Pk corridor remained much of its woodland, and the Wilmor/ Gray estate was surrounded by acres of estate from well north of current North Wilson to Cherokee Rd. and the neighboring Warner estate of Overbrook toward Murphy Rd. Gray's maternal grandparents were Jerome B. and Elvira Dale Pillow of the Columbia, TN Pillow clan.


Gray was president of Gray & Dudley Hardware Company, hardware manufacturing, director with American National Bank, owner of Wilson Lumber & Land Company, and an investor in Odeon Amusement Co. Gray also helped organize and was president of the Nashville Golf & Country Club on part of the old Peach Blossom plantation. The newly-wed couple had been living at a grand home at 314 Seventh Ave. North since 1899. In 1906, the Tennessee General Assembly voted to purchase their mansion for the new Executive Residence for the TN Governor.


The mansion was built at what became the southern end of Richland Ave. The Wilsons and Grays evidently love to entertain between the two grand mansions. Unfortunately, the inlaws' home burned down in 1916. The Wilson's son, Robert Morris Wilson, and Bessie Dake Wilson purchased Mount Alban and renamed it Breeze Hill.


By 1928, the Wilson portion of the property and part of the Gray property as well was subdivided into the Cherokee Park development.


In 1935, the leaders of Moore Memorial Presbyterian Church at 1509 Broad St. wanted to move to a suburban site. They ended up negotiating with the Grays to purchase a parcel of their property fronting Harding Rd. A new church was built named Westminster Presbyterian Church which opened in 1938. Growth exploded, and when the church leaders approached Gray about renting his home for Sunday School expansion in 1940, he declined. A new building was erected on Mayfair Ave. by 1947.


About seven years later, in 1954, the church needed more space again. Gray's widow had passed away, and when approached, the First American National Bank's Trust Dept, which handled the Gray estate, agreed to and the home and property. The Gray home became the "Church House" and was used for 3 years prior to its destruction. A new Children's Building went up on the site. See Mount Alban/ Breeze Hill, Wilmor Manor, Pillow family homes in Columbia


Sources:

Nashville Pike, Vol. 3, Ridley Wills II



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