top of page
  • Jay Brothers

Lealand: A Storied Estate

Updated: Nov 11, 2023

Photo from BONPS

Lealand was built by Judge John McCormick Lea (1818-1903) and Elizabeth B. Overton Lea (1826-1890) in 1884 at 1039 Tyne BL. Elizabeth was daughter of Judge John Overton. The couple married in 1843. The property was part of the original tract for John Overton’s Travellers Rest. Judge Lea was a lawyer, a circuit court judge, vice-president of First American National Bank, and President of the Board of Trustees of the University of Nashville. He was Assistant U.S. District Attorney from 1842-1845 and Mayor of Nashville in 1859.

In 1887, the home was rebuilt after a fire and then included its own waterworks, gasworks and fire fighting equipment. Sitting on 1,000 acres between Granny White Pike and Lealand Lane, it was inherited by son, Judge (John) Overton Lea (1846-1912) and his wife Ella Cooke (1846-1935). They married in 1870. Judge Lea became law partners with Judge David Campbell, then Judge John B. McEwen of Franklin and Coburn Dewees Berry starting in 1870. In 1874, Lea and Berry left to form Berry and Lea. 1880 found Lea retired from law because of health. In 1884, he imported Sussex cattle from England and in 4 years had the best herd in the United States. He also invested substantially in Memphis real estate.

Overton and Ella’s son, Luke Lea (1879-1945) lived at Lealand and in 1907 married Mary Louise Warner (1886-1919). Mary Louise was the daughter of Percy and Margaret Lindsley Warner of Renraw, Ellington and Royal Oaks.

Their marriage brought the prominent Warner, Lea and Lindsley families together. Luke practiced law in Nashville. In 1907, he organized The Tennessean Company and published the newspaper, The Nashville Tennessean. In 1910, he helped charter the Belle Meade Company to develop 5,000 acres of Belle Meade Plantation and donated 144 acres of land for Belle Meade Country Club, which moved in 1915. He was a U.S. Senator in 1911, and his family lived in Washington, DC for 6 years. Luke started The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and the Knoxville Journal in Knoxville with Rogers Caldwell.

Lea formed the 114th Field Artillery regiment with volunteers and fought with honors in Europe during the Great War. Afterward, when armistice negotiations commenced in Versailler, Lea saw that Germany would bear the brunt of war reparations and predicted that would lead to future word/ European conflict. He and a group tried to get to Holland to find the former German Kaiser. The German leader had been granted asylum in Holland. Luke thought he could persuade the former Kaiser to go to Versailles, take blame for Germany’s efforts, and spare the German people from the economic reprisals. A washed-out bridge over the Rhine foiled the adventure, the Versailles meetings culminated in the Versailler Treaty, and the rest is history. After Mary Louise died in 1917 while Luke was overseas, Luke married her sister Percie Warner in 1920.

After Judge Lea passed away in 1912, Lealand was closed down and finally demolished in 1940 when the estate was subdivided. From 1936-1945, the Lea family lived in Washington Hall on Whitland Ave. Luke understood the need for a park on the west side of Nashville and began accumulating land from families in the area that became part of Warner Parks in the early and mid 1920s. In 1927, he donated the original 868 acre tract of land to the Nashville park system on the condition it be named after his father-in-law, Percy Warner.

The mansion was named after the Lea family. The road which became known as Granny White Pike ran along the western boundary of the property. Part of that road was the Natchez Trace to Mississippi and the road to Franklin and places further south. See Renwar, Ellington, Royal Oaks, Travellers Rest, Washington Hall


Lealand Nashville: A Short History and Select Buildings, Metro Historic Commission 1974

Recent Posts

See All

Currey Hill to Rose Park: A Hill of Change

1000 Edgehill Ave. Nashville, TN Circa 1800. Large 2-story home The spot of Nashville has seen so much change: Currey Hill to Meridian Hill to gigantic rock quarry Rock Crusher Hill to Rose Park. Robe

Goochland: Vandy Ties

North Jefferson Pike (no longer exists) Built in 1842. 2 story red brick Greek Revival Dr. John Claiborne Gooch (1800-1853) and Elizabeth Ann Saunders Gooch (1814-1877) wed in 1831 and settled in Davi


bottom of page