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John Spence Home (1866): A Fashionable Move/ James Moore House (1891)

Updated: Jul 13

Two separate home were built on the same location.

John Spence House

503 North Maple. Murfreesboro, TN/ circa 1866 - demolished by 1890

James Moore House

503 North Maple/ Circa 1891

The John Spence House is in Murfreesboro at 503 North Maple St on one acre. It was a 2-story frame and brick Victorian home built in 1866, and the house was in Elizabeth’s name. Their business prospered well enough during the Civil War years that in 1865, Elizabeth was able to purchase a lot from her son-in-law William Roulet and erect their house. Evidently, it was preferable to be away from downtown square but not in the country.

Photo by Skye Marthaler

John Cedric Spence (1809-1890) and Elizabeth Spence Spence (1813-1884) resided on the property from 1865 to 1890. I suspect Elizabeth was a cousin of John’s because of the double Spence name. Spence was a Murfreesboro native who moved about Tennessee early in his career, but returned to Murfreesboro. He had established a successful business career prior to and after the Civil War. Spence operated a hardware and grocery store on the square and in 1854 built the Cedar Bucket Manufactory, Rutherford County’s first mechanized industry; post Civil War, the name changed to the Red Cedar Woodenware Company. The business was originally located on the current site of the Murfreesboro Police Dept. but moved late to the freight depot. Not only did Spence do well professionally, but he also served as an unofficial county historian.

He wrote “Annals of Rutherford County: Volume Two, 1829-1870” detailing political, social and economic life in Murfreesboro. He particularly noted the growth of Murfreesboro after the Nashville-Chattanooga railroad was built through his town. In 1884, Elizabeth died, and the house passed to her children including Mary Spence Roulet, William’s wife. John Spence and family resided there until his death in 1890. Then in 1891, the heirs sold the house to James A. Moore, a brick and concrete contractor. According to Greg Tucker, Rutherford County historian, the original wood frame Spence house was demolished.

James A.Moore (1840-1932) built a new “modern” brick house on the property that stands today.He and his bride, Rosaline Carney Moore (1849-1928) lived there. When Moore died in 1932, his son, James Carney Moore (1877-1955), bought the house from his sister and other heirs in 1932. In 1911, James C. and Elsie Winkler Moore (1885-19676) married. The couple had lived in both Greenville, AL and New York, NY. He was a silk importer and manufacturer. In 1935, they sold to George and Lucy Brown. George was a partner in a hardware store in Murfreesboro called Byrn and Brown Hardware. Five years later, in 1940, the Browns divorced, and Lucy got ownership of the house. In order to make income, she converted it into an apartment building.

From 1974-1981, the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity at Middle Tennessee State University leased the Moore House as their fraternity house. By 1981, Lucy was upset over the destructive treatment of the house and evicted the fraternity. She then sold the property in 1981 to her daughter and her husband, Molly and Roger Teague. The Teagues lived there until foreclosure forced it back to Lucy.

In 1986, Lucy sold the property to the Children’s Discovery House Museum with 1.1 acres. At some point, Greg Tucker owned the property. In 2001, the law firm Kious and Rodgers PLLC (John Rodgers) purchased the Spence House and restored some of the changes made by the Museum. NRHP 2004 In 2022, the firm Kious Rodgers Barger Holder & King, Attorneys at Law, has offices in the building.


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