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William Edmonson: First African-American show at Met Mus. of Art

William Edmondson House was inhabited by the late blooming artist/ sculptor William Edmondson (1874-1951) at 1434 14th Ave. South. Edmondson lived in the Edgehill area south of downtown Nashville with his mother and sister.

He worked at the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis railroad supply shop until 1907, and then at Nashville’s Women’s Hospital until 1931. After saving money, he purchased the Edgehill home. Edmondson began sculpting castoff limestone pieces and a talent was discovered. He opened a studio beside his home at age 60. Within three years, his work was so well-known that the Metropolitan Museum of Art invited him to host a show - the first African-American to host a 1-man show ever in 1937.

Just after Edmondson passed, the Nashville Housing Agency as part of an Urban Renewal project used eminent domain to raze a number of homes in that part of Edgehill including the Edmondson home and built Murrell Elementary School.

Near 14th Ave. South and Wadet St., in 2018, the William Edmondson Homesite Park & Gardens was organized to keep the area from being developed, and Nashville Historic Society erected a plaque nearby honoring him.


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