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Tammany Woods/ Riverwood: Famous East Nashville home

Updated: May 24

1833 Welcome Lane, Nashville, TN

Built starting about 1795 in stages. 2-story Federal style

The mansion known as Tammany Woods and Riverwood was built in stages. About 1795, Phillip Philips (?-1797) and Susannah Phillips (?-1805) purchased the land and commenced constructing their home. This home was constructed less than 2 decades after the founding of Nashville. He was a land speculator and built a fortune. Originally, they owned about 2,500 acres.After Phillp’s death, Susannah remained on the farm and managed it until her passing.

Fifteen years later, in 1820, Dr. Boyd McNairy (1786-1856) and Anna Maria Hodgkinson McNairy (1788-1869) purchased the home from the Phillips heirs. The McNairys had wed in 1809. Dr. McNairy had a downtown Nashville home and used the new home as a country house. Dr. McNairy had a medical office on Cedar Street and his partner was a Dr. R. C. K. Martin. Evidently, Dr. McNairy treated Andrew Jackson after his duel with Thomas H. Benton. He was also a founder of the Nashville Medical Society in 1821. As Nashville was growing, Dr. McNairy was part of a group of doctors in 1823 calling for funding for the Hospital of the State of Tennessee, aka State Lunatic Asylum/ the Old Asylum, a place to help citizens with mental illness. Dr. McNairy's niece was Mary Selene McNairy Harding of Belle Meade.

After 9 years, in 1829, Dr. McNairy sold the property to Alexander James Porter, Sr. (1771-1833) and Susannah “Susan” Massengill Porter (1777-1853). The Porters already had a home "in-town" on Cherry St. - below Church St. Alexander ran a prosperous linen business. The Porters remodeled the mansion in the style of his ancestral home in Ireland and named it after it as well - Tamna Wood. Alex died within a few years of the purchase.

After Alex’s death, Susan built a new 2 story home in front of the old structure and used the old home as a kitchen. About 1851, Alex Porter, Jr., the only child remaining at the family home, renovated the structures and put them together and included the signature Greek Revival front with large columns. The mansion had grown to 9,200 square feet - one of the largest early homes in Nashville. Porter, Jr. increased his holdings to 2,500 acres primarily from the Thomas and Vaught family lands.

Judge William Frierson Cooper (1820-1909) bought the property in 1859 with 851 acres and renamed it Riverwood. He had previously lived at Riverview nearby. Judge Cooper grew up in Columbia, and after becoming a lawyer in 1841, he managed his family’s plantation, Mulberry Hill Plantation, in Columbia from 1840-45 as well as practicing law both alone and with a partner. From 1851-58, he and Return J. Meigs III were appointed to and codified the laws of Tennessee. During the Civil War, Judge Cooper traveled in Europe. He was elected to the Tennessee Supreme Court and served from 1878-1886. Judge Cooper remained a bachelor all his life, and his brother Henry Porter and Henry’s family resided with him. Henry was elected to the U.S. Senate and moved from Riverwood in 1870. William was appointed a justice to the Tennessee Supreme Court left Riverwood as well to move into downtown Nashville. William later moved to New York and after his death in 1909 left property to his family.

After Judge Cooper’s death, his brother Duncan Brown Cooper (1844-1922) inherited the property with its 69 acres. Duncan had resided in Maury Co. on Mulberry Hill most of his life, but moved to Riverwood after the death of his wife. [Duncan Cooper shot Willliam Carmack - see Carmack Home.]

After 1910, Duncan’s sister Sarah “Sadie” Polk Cooper Burch (1878-1975) and her husband Dr. Lucius Edward Burch (1874-1959) moved into Riverwood to live with him. They began to accumulate land adjoining Riverwood. Then in 1914, they bought out family members to own Riverwood.The Burchs wed in 1898. Sarah’s parents were Duncan B. Cooper and Mary Polk Jones Cooper of Mulberry Hill in Columbia. Dr. Burch was Dean of the Vanderbilt School of Medicine. The Burch family held famous annual Christmas parties at Riverwood. After Dr. Burch died, Sarah sold pieces of property for development reducing the size to 8 acres at her death in 1975. Much of the land sold off was developed into a subdivision built in the 1960s named Burchwood Gardens.

Mrs. Lucia Doggrel was the owner in 1977 and with 12 acres. Lucia was the great-granddaughter of Duncan Cooper. Jackie and Joe Glynn bought the property in 1994 and turned it into a restaurant, wedding and special events venue. By 2015, local chef Debbie Sutton and partners Steve Shelton and Matt Wilson owned Riverwood. The Porter, Cooper, and Burch families were related through Col. John Donelson and the wives were nieces of Rachel Jackson. Alexander Porter named the house for an old home in Londonderry in North Ireland. The William Cooper family named the property Riverwood because of its location by the Cumberland River. NR 1977 See Belle Meade, Mulberry Hill, Riverview


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