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Savage House: Last Grand Townhouse Downtown from Early Era

Updated: Jun 13

9th Ave. S. (present 167 Rosa Parks BL) Nashville, TN

Circa 1840s. 3-story red brick Italianate townhouse

Photo by Andrew Jameson

The townhome called the Savage House was built in the 1840s. By 1859, Mary Emeline Topp Claiborne (1815-1887) owned the property and operated a well-known boarding house until 1881. Mary was married in 1833 to Algimon S. Claiborne. During the 1860s, the Union Army used the home for planning and meetings.

In 1881, it was purchased by Julian Sax who was a banker from New York and used as his residence. By the mid-1880s, Julian had changed the purpose and transformed the home and leased it for a club named The Standards Club, a Jewish men’s club. In 1895, Julian built a grand ballroom and installed Nashville’s first bowling alley. The Standard Club outgrew the property and has evolved into the Old Natchez Country Club in Williamson County.

Dr. Giles Christopher Savage (1854-1930), an eye surgeon and Vanderbilt professor of ophthalmology and Leslie Alice Jones Savage (1861-1954) were the owners in 1898. Before that year, Dr. Savage had leased the former townhouse of Col. E. W. Cole at 710 Church St. Dr. Savage had his private practice on the ground floor and lived above. Their daughter, Dr. Kate Eastman Savage Zerfoss (1895-1988) owned the house and practiced from it until 1980. She was married to Thomas Bowman Zerfoss (1895-1988), [Dr. Kate Savage arranged for white lines to be on the side of roads because that color is seen peripherally.]

In 1953, Savage House was described as Savage Studios. In 1980, John W. Hunt and David Nelson purchased Savage House and opened The Savage House Bed and Breakfast, The Towne House Tea Room and The Gas Light Lounge.

In 1980, John W. Hunt and David Nelson bought the building and opened a bed & breakfast (The Savage House Inn) upstairs, the Towne House Tea Room on the main floor and The Gas Light Lounge in the ballroom. They operated the businesses for 20 years.

In 2005, Josha and Sharon Smith were owners. They restored the residence. Their son Joshua started a small business "on the side" and that grew. The elder Smiths moved out to expand the business. The place is now known as The Standard at teh Smith Building. It has become one of the top restaurnats in Nashville and is award winning. Several sources note that Savage House is the only remaining grand townhouse downtown from the mid-1800s. NRHP 1983


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