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Sylvan Park - Escaping the Nashville city

Updated: Feb 24

Sylvan Park is located in the Sylvan Park area at 4501 Nebraska Ave. and built by James A. Bowling (1854-1923) and Sarah Elizabeth “Lizzie” Byron Bowling (18587-1935) about 1904. It was likely on some acreage near Nebraska and 46th Ave. North.


Because of pollution and congestion in downtown Nashville, many people began taking day escapes to the area outside Nashville between West End and Charlotte in the late 1800s. Bowling made his initial fortune by selling his family farm lands (part of the Bowling/ Whitworth tract) for a prison through James A. Bowling & Son. Various developers had begun purchasing parts of the old Robertson, Stump and Cockrill lands. Some investors had tried to develop a separate incorporated community in 1887 called New Town or West Town, but it failed with the recession of 1893.


To encourage commercial development, Bowling built the Richland Hall at (current) 4822 Charlotte Ave. in 1894. Four years later, the West Nashville Masonic Lodge was founding there in 1898. Then a Freemason organization used it from 1901-1915.


In 1906, two developments occurred: First, the city of Nashville annexed the Sylvan Park neighborhood and then investors Dr. J.E. Thompson, Johnson Bransford, and Bowling headed up a new effort, Sylvan Park Land Company - making plots, building homes, attracting well-to-do professionals. The new development was variously named New Town or West Nashville. Access to newly extended streetcar lines made these new suburbs attractive to families wishing to work and shop downtown. Bowling named his own home Sylvan Park and a main street in part of the now official Nashville suburb was called Bowling Ave.


The development steadily grew in the area with the arrival of the Sylvan Park Street Railway - street trolley system. As part of the effort to increase growth in the area, Bowling built Richland Hall commercial building on Charlotte Ave. Sylvan means “ pleasantly rural and wooded.” The family is recognized with Bowling Ave., Sylvan Park neighborhood


Sources:

Sylvan Park Nashville’s Sylvan Park by Yvonne Eaves & Doug Eckert


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