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Tulip Grove (Poplar Grove): Bunch of Ties to other Homes

Updated: May 23

Tulip Grove (originally Poplar Grove) was built in 1836 on Lebanon Rd. by Andrew Jackson Donelson (1799-1871) and Emily Tennessee Donelson Donelson (1807-1836).

Photo by Lester Jones

Andrew was Rachel Jackson’s nephew and private secretary to President Andrew Jackson, and Emily was Rachel’s niece and first cousin to Andrew. President Jackson considered Andrew to be an adopted son and wished him to live nearby. They had married in 1824. The style was Antebellum Greek Revival and was on a 1,000 cotton plantation next to Jackson’s The Hermitage. Andrew and Emily lived in Washington much of the time while helping Pres. Jackson during his administration: Andrew with his duties and Emily served First Lady duties for Old Hickory. Emily returned to Tulip Grove because of the Petticoat Affair in Jackson’s presidency, fell ill from tuberculosis, and died. Andrew then married Elizabeth Anderson Martin (1816-1871). Later, Andrew served as U.S. representative for the annexation of Texas; 1846-49 appointed Minister to Prussia; and in 1856, vice president candidate with Millard Fillmore in their unsuccessful run.

Photo by Bryan MacKinnon

Between 1854-58, Andrew sold Tulip Grove with its 1,000 acres to Mark Cockrill and moved to Memphis. Cockrill purchased Tulip Grove as a gift to his daughter Almira Jane Cockrill Watkins (1825-1907) and husband William E. Watkins (1820-1848) of Watkins Place. Watkins was an early businessman who participated in constructing a toll road west of Nashville toward Charlotte. He also served as justice of the peace.

Then in 1866 Thomas Ormsby Treanor and Mary Ellen Andrews Treanor purchased the property. Their daughter, Mayna Treanor Avent (1888-1959) was a renowned artist. After studying the arts, she wed Frank Avent who was a Murfreesboro attorney and was later State Railroad Commissioner for years. Teaching painting across the country, she was a member of the Nashville Studio Club, Nashville Artist Guild and the Centennial Club. Another daughter, Nellie Treanor Stokes (1862-1948), married Walter Stokes (1862-1942) in 1888 and moved into Breezemont on the Stokes Family Farm on Hillsboro Pike.

In 1890, Horatio Berry (1851-1908) with his wife Nannie Smith Berry (1861-1961) owned it. Horatio was the son of Dr. W. W. Berry of Elmwood. Nannie’s family home was Hazel Path.

In 1914, the Berry’s daughter, Jane Elizabeth Berry Buntin (1883-1981) and her husband, Charles Erwin Buntin (1880-1932), purchased property with about 26 acres. They married in 1907. In the 1960s, they sold much of the farmland surrounding the house, but kept the mansion and 60 acres around it. Charles was a realtor/ investor. Charles' mother was Jennie Erwin Craighead Buntin - part of the Craighead/ Erwin clan. In the 1940s, the Buntins had real estate investments in Hendersonville (200 acres) and downtown Nashville (2 lots on 2nd Ave.) They also owned area at Indian Lake - now submerged under Old Hickory Lake. Buntin arranged in 1964 for the Andrew Jackson Foundation to buy the property. Jane died living at the Imperial Apartments.

The next year, the formal Ladies’ Hermitage Association opened Tulip Grove to the public as a non-profit museum. Jane moved at some point to the Imperial House Apartments on Harding Rd. until her passing. The first name, Poplar Grove, came from the poplar trees on site; in 1841, Martin Van Buren suggested changing the name to Tulip Grove because of the number of tulip blossoms on the property, and Donelson did so. NRHP 1970 See Mt. Solitude at Cockrill Spring, Breezemont, Elmwood, Hazel Path, Watkins Place


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