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Rev. Preston Taylor Home

From 1906 until his death, Rev. Dr. Preston Taylor (1849-1931) lived in a 2 story home at 449 North Cherry St. (Fourth Ave. North) where the Tennessee Department of Human Services is located today. Until 1906, Taylor and his family had lived in a 2 story brick home on their land that became Greenwood Cemetery

Rev. Taylor had joined the Union Army as a drum boy and was discharged a free man. Arriving in Nashville, he opened Nashville's first African-American mortuary, Taylor Funeral Co. in 1888. In the same year, he bought nearly 40 acres of land on what was called Buttermilk Ridge, a patch of dairy farms across what is now Elm Hill Pike and Spence Lane. On part of that land, he opened Greenwood Cemetery for poor people, black and white but primarily black. There is also a separate western portion call Greenwood Cem. West.

His first wife was Georgia Gordon Taylor (1855-1913) and was the leader of the original Fisk Jubilee Singers. She was a soprano singer. After entering Fisk in 1868, she joined the Jubilee Singers in 1872 and ended up touring nearly continuously for seven years to help raise funds for Fisk. About 1880, she wed Rev. Taylor. His second wife was Ida D. Mallory Taylor (1878-1947)

Dr. Taylor helped start the Lea Ave. Christian Church, the National Colored Christian Missionary Convention, One Cent Bank (now Citizen's Savings & Trust) as well as Tennessee State Agric. & Industrial School (now Tenn. State Univ.). Rev. Taylor, along with other black leaders, lobbied the Tennessee Legislature to build the African-American teaching college in Nashville instead of Chattanooga in 1909.

Because Jim Crow laws banned African-Americans from most public entertainment, about 1906 Rev. Taylor created Greenwood Park in the unused portion (northern) of his Greenwood lands which had an entrance on Lebanon Rd, and it became the first recreational park for African-Americans and operated until 1949. He built a large two-story home for his family on park of the Park section. To recognize his efforts to help improve Nashville, Preston Taylor Housing, a public housing community on Clifton Ave., was named for him in 1951 as well as Preston Taylor YMCA and Preston Taylor Ministries in the same area.


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