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Totomoi/ Montgomery Bell Academy

Updated: Jul 30, 2022

Totomoi was built in 1905 on 35 acres on a hill overlooking Harding Pike (current address 4001 Harding Rd.) by (Thomas) Garland Tinsley (1869-1958) and Louise McClure Tinsley (1877-1961). They married in 1898. Tinsley ran Tennessee Chemical Co. which was bought by Armour Fertilizer Works and was involved with First Savings & Trust. Tinsley carved the word, Totomoi, into the stone gates on Harding Rd. that led to their home. Totomoi comes from the name of the ancestral estate of the Tinsley family near Richmond, VA. The name Totomoi came from Tinsley’s family estate in Richmond, Virginia that was called Totopotomoi, the name of an Indian tribe.

About 10 years after building it, in 1914, the Tinsleys sold Totomoi to the trustees of Montgomery Bell Academy with 32 acres. The MBA leadership wished to move from the University of Nashville buildings downtown. In 1915, Montgomery Bell Academy moved to this new campus on the western suburbs of Nashville. In 1927, Totomoi burned in a fire, and a new building was constructed. The new school building was later named the Ball Building for school President Isaac Ball. The Totomoi name was preserved in the creation of the top honorary society started at MBA in 1954.


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