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The Crest/ Hillcrest/ Crestland: About 75 Historic Years in Murfreesboro

Updated: Feb 19


Photo from Brian Lamb


In the 1830s, Legrand Hargis Carney (1808-1884) and Catherine Wells Lytle Carney (1814-1892) built The Crest (aka Hillcrest and Crestlannd). They married in 1831.The property was on a rise of land about a half mile north of the court house between the current North Maple and North Church Sts. It was a grand and imposing 2 story Greek Revival mansion with 2 story tall white columns.


Catherine was the granddaughter of Capt. Wm. Lytle and a member of one of Murfreeboro’s founding families.. The Carney family had moved to Rutherford County in 1809. LeGrand was a very successful merchant and 1837 mayor of Murfreesboro. Legrand was also very involved with Soule Female College. The family had a large estate surrounding the home: twelve acres of lawn and trees as well as twenty acres of garden and orchard. In 1856, the Carney’s hosted a wedding for their son William Joseph Carney and his bride Mariah Laura Butler Carney that was renowned. William Carney and his family moved to a smaller property southeast of Murfreesboro. Two other sons moved to Florida and Texas. Two daughters wed and resided locally. After the Civil War, because of lost property and fortune, the Carneys sold The Crest and moved further out into the country.


In 1868, William Yandel Elliott (1827-1893) and Margaret Graham Johnston Elliott (1852-1917) purchased the estate. They wed in 1870. Elliot was also a Murfreesboro merchant and a Tennessee House Representative 1865-67, then a Tennessee State Senator (1867-69). He was partner with Edward L. Jordan in a store in 1851. He also was a partner with Jordan in 1880 in the "Grand Opera House" which operated for 6 years. Their son, William Yandell, was a Vanderbilt Fugitive. He became a professor, a historian and an advisor to six American presidents. At one point, the property comprised 12 acres with gardens and orchards.


After Elliott died in 1898, Margaret sold Hillcrest to a local lawyer and judge, Judge John Ezra Richardson who resided there until 1909. Then William M. Freeman bought the estate. Freeman tore the mansion down to develop the property. In 2015, Haynes Brothers Lumber Company was on the original home site.


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