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Two Rivers Mansion


Photo by Skye Marthaler


There was nearly 30 years of activity prior to Two Rivers Mansion being built.


A pioneer, David Buchanan, had built a simple Federal-style brick 2 story home on the property. At some point, the land came under Willie Barrow’s ownership. Then William Harding (1788-1832), brother of John of Belle Meade, purchased the original 476 acres from Willie Barrow in 1819.

Harding married Elizabeth Hoggatt Clopton Harding Owen (1811-1893) in 1830 and unfortunately died two years later - 5 months prior to his daughter William “Willie” Elizabeth was born. Willie Harding inherited the property when she married her cousin, David H. McGavock in 1850.


Two Rivers Mansion, an ornate Italianate style mansion located at 3130 McGavock Pike, was built for David Harding McGavock (1826-1896) and wife William Elizabeth “Willie” Harding McGavock (1832-1895). Building began in 1859 and was completed in the 1870s. McGavock’s family owned Carnton plantation and several other homes and properties in the area. Harding’s family owned Belle Meade Plantation along with others in the area.


They increased land holdings to 1,200 acres. In the 1880s, the property was known as Two Rivers Stock Farm. The estate thrived as a stock farm among other ventures, but was hurt badly in Panic of 1893. Their son, Francis "Frank" Owen McGavock (1851-1920), inherited the estate in 1891. He was married to Lisa "Lula" Spence McGavock (1852-1882) in 1875. After she died, McGavock wed Dr. Clara Cornelia Plimpton McGavock (1840-1904)in 1896 . Dr. McGavock was from Massachusetts, was a well-known doctor in the north and had her practice in Massachusetts. She is noted as being one of the first female physicians in Nashville. She had Frank sign a prenuptial to secure her own estate prior to their marriage. She opened a practice in Nashville after they wed which at some point later she sold to another female physician. The McGavock family endured severe financial troubles from Belle Meade/ Two Rivers operations, from his Morgan horse breeding efforts and David's gambling debts. In the late 1890s into early 1900s, several financial arrangements were made with businessmen involving the sales and liens on Two Rivers property.

To prevent the bank from foreclosing, Dr. McGavock entered into the negotiation, and because of her reputation and funds, she was able to secure Two Rivers for her family. The McGavock family lived at home for three generations until 1965.


About 1907, McGavock’s grandson Spence McGavock (1875-1936) inherited and leased the farm. He worked near downtown to make a living and support his family. In 1928, Spence married Mary Louise Bransford (1878-1965) of Melrose lineage and a cousin. The couple modernized the old home with plumbing, electricity and heat. The resided at Two Rivers for four years before returning to Melrose when Mary's mother died. Mary remained at Melrose, and Two Rivers farm continued as a farming concern with caretakers running operations. Mary Louise returned to Two Rivers from 1954-1965.


In 1966, Metro Nashville government purchased Two Rivers 447 acres from the Mary Louise Bransford estate. Metro Nashville Metro Government & Parks developed Two Rivers mansion and surrounding 14 acres as a historical site, created McGavock Comprehensive High School (in addition to Two Rivers Middle School previously established), a water park (Wave Country), Two Rivers Golf Course, Two Rivers Parkway, and other recreational facilities. The mansion’s name comes from the location between the Stones River and the Cumberland River. NRHP 1972 See also: Belair, Belle Meade Mansion, Clifflawn, Lynnwood, Melrose, West Meade


Sources:

http://friendsoftworiversmansion.org/history/


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