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Sunnyside/ Lee Monte/ Idlewild

Updated: Feb 9

Photo by Www.78

Sunnyside/ Lee Monte/ Idlewild was located on Middle Franklin Pike (now Granny White Pike) on about 38 acres. The current address is 3021 Lealand Lane which simply runs along the east side of the park.

Built about 1843 as a 2 story white clapboard home in Greek Revival style for Mary Childress Benton Douglas Sevier (1797-1881), widow of Jesse Benton. Benton was the brother of Thomas Hart Benton, a politician. Mary was a first cousin of Sarah Childress Polk, wife of Pres. Polk. Jesse was in a duel with William Carroll, the future governor of Tennessee and wounded him in 1813. Shortly afterward, Jesse and Thomas got into a heated argument with their friend Gen. Andrew Jackson, and Jesse shot and nearly killed Jackson. Because of the controversy and turmoil, the Benton brothers had to leave Tennessee. Jesse and Mary went to Louisiana. [Mary's mother-in-law was Ann "Nancy" Gooch Benton. Her husband, Col. Zeke B. "Jesse" Benton, was a lawyer and real estate speculator who had interest in numerous properties across South. After his death in 1791, it took almost a decade to settle his estate. Among other parcels of land, Nancy got 2,500 acres well south of Nashville to which she moved her family in 1800. Originally, the area was called Bentonville, then Hillsboro (after their home county in North Carolina0, and later Leiper's Fork. Because there was another Hillsboro in Tennessee, when a federal post office was established in the area, the name change to Leiper's Fork was made.]

After his death, his wife, Mary, returned to Nashville and in 1852 purchased property and built Sunnyside with its 38 acres. She married Theodore Francis (Frank) Sevier in 1859. Mary lived on the property with her widowed niece, Minerva Douglass and Minerva’s 2 children Henry and Mary. Mary Douglass named the home Sunnyside because of the bright, open property. Mary Douglass married Theodore Francis “Frank” or “TF” Sevier from Kentucky, and they resided at Sunnyside until the Civil War.

She stayed at the property for much of the Civil War but before selling it to John Armstrong Shute. He was a former justice of the peace in Davidson County. In 1865, Shute gave Sunnyside to his daughter, Jeannette Shute Childress, whose husband was Mrs. Benton’s nephew, Stephen W. Childress.

The Childress family increased the property size to 140 acres. They renamed the home, Lee Monte, in honor of Robert E. Lee. In 1875, they sold Lee Monte.

In 1882 Dr. Lleweyllen Garnet (L.G.) Noel (1851-1927) and his first wife Nannie Folwell Noel (1861-1897) purchased the property at auction and renamed the property Idlewild for her mother’s home in Memphis. They wed in 1881. Dr. Noel was a renowned Nashville dentist who taught at Vanderbilt and served as chair of the dental pathology department. He was a past president of the American Dental Association and the Southern Dental Association. After Nannie’s death, Dr. Noel married Augusta Jonnard (1869-?) in 1902.

In 1927, Col. Granville Sharp Townsend Sevier (1869-1944) and Marion P. Shainwald Sevier (1888-1928) bought 20.5 acres and the home from the Noel family and brought his mother back to Sunnyside. Col. Sevier’s mother renamed the home Sunnyside.

After Col. Sevier’s death, the City of Nashville bought the house and 20 acres. Part of the land was used to create a park, and Sevier Park opened in 1948. Park Director Jack Sprouse and wife Maryanne lived there until 1987. Now it is occupied by Metro Historical Commission offices. NRHP 1974


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