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Walnut Grove/ Sabra Lawrence Home - Woman-owned & managed

Updated: Dec 27, 2023

Walnut Grove is a special property: Built for a woman and the farm managed by a woman.

Willis Henry Boddie (1788-1841) accumulated over 1,600 acres and bred and raced horses. Willis was named a Columbia Railroad Co. commissioner in 1831. His sister, Sabrina “Sabra” Tool Boddie Lawrence (1787-1867), came with her family (five daughters) to live with him after her husband, Ricks Lawrence, died. They had resided in North Carolina.

Photo by Skye Marthaler

Upon the bachelor Willis’ death, Sabra inherited his large estate. Unusual for the age, Sabra personally managed the farm for 25 years.

Walnut Grove is located at 510 North Main St. in Mt. Pleasant. The style is Greek Revival. After a fire in 1857 destroyed much of the mansion, she rebuilt Walnut Grove in 1858. She was one of the largest property owners in Maury County.

After Sabra died, her daughter Sabrina “Sabra” Boddie Francis (1811-1893) of Antrim Farm inherited the property. Sabra Frances was married to John Mourning Francis (1804-1881). The family sold/ leased Walnut Grove for use as an Episcopal school called Otey School about 1880.

It was sold in 1888 to Mumford Smith (1842-1923) and Annie Mary Cecil Smith (1849-1903) and returned to private use. They married in 1871. The Smith family named the property Walnut Grove and lived there for 75 years.

By 1982, Dr. James H. Jones and Aleen Thompson Jones bought Walnut Grove and surrounding land. In 2006 George & Judith Vestal owned property. George had served as vice-mayor of Mt. Pleasant in the mid-2000s. The name is derived from the black walnut trees in the front yard. NRHP 1984 See Antrim Farm

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