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Longview (Leafy Lot)

Longview, located at 811 Caldwell Lane near Franklin Pike, was built in 1842 for Henry Laurence Norvell (1818-1874) and Laura Jane Sevier Norvell (1825-1895).

Nashville Historic Society

They married in 1842. She was the granddaughter of John Sevier, the first governor of Tennessee, and as a wedding gift, Gov. Sevier gave Henry and Laura 2,000 acres by Franklin Pike [the tract likely ranged from present 100 Oaks area west to Lealand Lane and between Woodmont Blvd. to Caldwell Lane]. The Norvell’s built a small cottage which was constructed and finished by 1845. It was called Leafy Lot - derived from the numerous trees, orchards and vineyards in the area.

The Norvells left the property in 1864, and the property suffered badly when the Civil War came through. In 1864, Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood tried to draw Union Gen. William T. Sherman from his Georgia campaign by moving north into Middle Tennessee. The strategy failed but a battle raged along Franklin Pike right at Leafy Lot. Trees and orchards were destroyed and land was ruined. The area became known as “Hood’s Waste.” Then Union forces moved in and occupied the property during the early Reconstruction Era. During the war, Norvell helped both sides but was more of a Unionist.

Photo by Drs Jerrye and Roy Klotz

Around 1870, because of his Union efforts and the destruction of his property, he was given a federal revenue official job. After Norvel’s death, Laura Jane put the property on the market for sale. Four years later, in 1878, James Erwin Caldwell (1854-1944) and May Winston Caldwell (1855-1939) acquired the property with its 50 acres. They married in 1875. Initially, the Caldwells remodeled and enlarged the cottage with a second story and in Italianate style.

About twenty years later, after much professional success, the Caldwells greatly enlarged the house and changed its styling to Beaux Arts Classicism about 1906 and renamed it Longview because he took a long view of life. The Caldwells expanded their estate until it was 1,500 acres by 1914. In 1883, Caldwell and a syndicate bought Cumberland Telephone and Telegraph (Cumberland T&T) and grew the company to be the largest of its kind in the region. In 1912, Cumberland T&T was bought by American Telephone & Telegraph (a Bell Telephone System predecessor) and eventually became Southern Bell. He was head of Fourth and First National Bank in the 1920s. James and May were the parents of Rogers Caldwell, the famous/infamous local financier. Rogers built Brentwood Hall just south of Longview. Records indicate James and May also owned Longview Farm, adjacent to their home estate, and Elysian Field Farm, just south of their property.

Their other son, Charles Winston Caldwell (1880-1956) and his wife Gladys M. Winston Caldwell (1886-1920) wed in 1913 and lived at Longview. At that point, only 50 acres remained about the mansion.

In 1949, the Franklin Road Church of Christ bought Longview from Caldwell, and Caldwell was allowed to reside there until his death in 1956. ``During that time, the church built a sanctuary on the property fronting Franklin Road. Four years after Caldwell’s death, in 1960, Dr. Nicholas DePalma and his wife Ruth DePalma bought the mansion from Franklin Road Church of Christ and resided there 17 years until 1977. That year, Church of Christ minister Johnny Thompson and his wife Sue Thompson purchased Longview from the DePalma family. Pastor Thompson died in 1981. In 1986, Sue deeded the property to Williamson County Bank in Bankruptcy Court.

By 1989, Mr and Mrs Charles Tharp tried to buy it. They could not agree to terms with Sue Thompson, and the deal fell through.

At some point in the mid-1990s, Woodmont Hills Church of Christ purchased Longview and its property.

They then, in 1999, sold the mansion to Lipscomb University. In 2019, the upstairs is used as an administrator’s residence and downstairs for university functions. The field next to the mansion is used by the Lipscomb University soccer teams. Cofer’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church purchased the sanctuary in 1994 and now worships at 3915 Franklin Rd. address - the old front lawn of Longview. The Caldwell family ownership is recognized by Caldwell Lane. NRHP 1983 See Brentwood Hall


Nashville Pikes Vol. 1, 150 Years Along Franklin Pike and Granny White Pike, Pp. 118-128

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