Several days ago I had an opportunity to visit the Nashville area around Brentwood and Franklin. I had a blast driving past all the nice homes and estates, and I don’t think I saw a single piece of property for under $500,000 the whole time I was there. I also saw several neat park areas that seemed inviting.
Most people visiting Nashville likely want to go to the Grand Ole Opry, Ryman Auditorium or other attractions directly related to the country music industry. I am old enough to have been to the Ryman Auditorium as a child when the Grand Ole Opry was still held there, so I have done some of that.
But I did manage to see some of the fruits of the country musicians’ efforts, as I likely passed their homes and estates. A couple of singing stars’ homes were actually pointed out to me.
As a result, I was singing my own kind of happy tune.
My wife, Laura, and I were in the city for the wedding of her niece, Elizabeth Anderson, who had moved to the Nashville area within the last year or two.
We arrived at our hotel near the Cool Springs Galleria Mall around Franklin/Brentwood on a Thursday night, so the next morning I drove a short distance to Crockett Park for a jog.
The wedding was going to be in a historic home that had been moved to that site, so I had previously checked out the park online as a place to run.
My only desire regarding a park in which to exercise is that it has plenty of grass, due to a problem I used to have with shin splints after running repeatedly on asphalt. This large tract more then met my need.
My favorite part was a row of old hackberry trees that made that section of the land look as though it was still part of an old farm. I went back and forth on that stretch several times over my three mornings jogging there, and I was oblivious to the fairly new Catholic church and school on the other side.
That Friday morning, I had a few free hours, so I also made plans to meet my former Chattanooga boyhood friend, Don McGonagil, for lunch. On the way to meet him, I decided to drive by a nice combination park area I had previously heard of called Percy and Edwin Warner Parks.
The land is comprised of thousands of acres, and it is also where the state high school cross-country meet is held every year.
I enjoyed driving through part of it, and I wish I had more time to explore it in fuller detail. But the sight of such unspoiled land in an urban area was uplifting.
Just getting there on Old Hickory Boulevard was inspiring as well. I passed a lot of nice homes, and saw some interesting sites I have never found much in the state of Tennessee’s three other largest cities -- sprawling estates.
Some homes appeared to be on only five-acre lots, while others may have been on land totaling 50 or more acres. I am not sure if these large tracts are the result of music industry wealth, or some historic reason concerning the fact that the outskirts of Nashville once had plantations or horse farms. But I felt as though I was witnessing unique scenery.
I had also seen one or two other such estates, as well as some well-kept farms, just driving to Crockett Park.
Being an East Tennessean, I was starting to suffer from withdrawal symptoms over not seeing any doublewide manufactured homes or dilapidated old barns that looked like they would fall over with just a good push.
I also saw more fine homes and sprawling estates when I came back from the Warner parks and turned and went north on Hillsboro Pike.
When I met Don near the Green Hills Mall for lunch, I told him to take me to a place unique to Nashville and not a chain like I could get at home.
He took me to the Copper Kettle, a meat-and-vegetable cafeteria in a small and older commercial building next to the David Lipscomb University campus. It was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed the unique atmosphere and all the food -- right down to the piece of sumptuous chocolate cake. The sweetened iced tea also met my high standards.
Don told me that meeting me for lunch was the second biggest highlight of his day – behind getting to watch the Nashville Predators hockey team play Detroit that night at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Don then gave me a whirlwind driving tour of the swankier parts of Nashville in or near the Belle Meade neighborhood. He showed me where former Sen. Bill Frist lived, where former vice president Al Gore had built a house and surrounded it with already-mature trees for privacy, and where the level-headed young singing sensation Taylor Swift had bought the historic former Northumberland Estate.
I also saw the relatively modest house where singer Janis Ian of “I learned the truth at seventeen – that love was meant for beauty queens” fame lived.
I witnessed as well a few examples of the neat 1960-era modernist architecture, including Hillsboro High School.
After saying goodbye to Don, I then headed back to the hotel via Franklin Road, where I saw everything from large newer homes, to the nice and new Brentwood United Methodist Church, to a giant farm that appeared to be well manicured. In fact, I assumed the farmers there likely bought their overalls at somewhere a little more upscale than Wal-Mart.
On Saturday, we went over to the historic and well-preserved downtown Franklin, where we looked in a few specialty stores and ate at the Franklin Mercantile Deli, which also had great food and a unique atmosphere.
After a nice wedding and reception on the grounds around the Cool Springs House Saturday afternoon and evening, Laura and I arose Sunday morning and went with several other family members to eat breakfast back in historic downtown Franklin.
Someone at the hotel had recommended this restaurant, but to me it turned out to be a little bit of a disappointment, primarily because it did not have homemade biscuits.
I take my biscuits as seriously as I take my sweetened iced tea, and this place seemed to be nothing more than a local dive that could have been found near any generic doublewide community. And it did not seem suited for Franklin.
Needless to say, I was getting a little snooty in my expectations after being in a nicer part of metro Nashville for several days.
But maybe that experience at the greasy spoon did get me back in the mindset to return to beloved East Tennessee -- where about all that is generally grand are the mountains.
Historic home at Crockett Park
- Photo2 by John Shearer