Glen Leven estate, the more than 150-year-old Oak Hill home that served as a field hospital during the Battle of Nashville has been preserved along with the 65 acres of open land surrounding it. The Glen Leven estate is the largest piece of Nashville’s Civil War battlefield still intact, according to Civil War preservation expert and former BONPS president Doug Jones. Susan McConnell West left Glen Leven to The Land Trust for Tennessee in her will. The Greek Revival house, built in 1857, is on Franklin Road south of Thompson Lane. For more information on Glen Leven, visit the website of the Land Trust for Tennessee.
The following was taken from an historical text:
The Home of Dr. and Mrs. A.W. Harris, Nashville
The land on which Glen Leven stands was taken up in 1781 by Thomas Thompson as a Revolutionary grant from the State of North Carolina. It was four miles south of Fort Nashboro, where Thompson signed the Cumberland Compact. His original dwelling was a blockhouse, but later, on the site of the present residence, he built a log house which was burned. Glen Leven itself was constructed in the Jeffersonian style by the settler’s son, John Thompson, without benefit of architect, from brick made on the place by his slaves.
The earliest record of a flower garden at Glen Leven dates from 1837, when John Thompson sent to Holland for a shipment of bulbs, including diminutive yellow, exceeding fragrant narcissi, various varieties of daffodils, and blue, white, plumed, and grape hyacinths. The garden was laid out in the form of a square, with a large circular bed in the center and small beds of geometric design completing the pattern.
It was Mrs. Mary Hamilton Thompson, John Thompson’s fourth wife, who added roses and bulbs, and brought the garden to a high state of cultivation. Flowers of the original shipment from Holland still bloom at Glen Leven in multiplied quantities.
Situated between the first and second day lines of the Battle of Nashville, Glen Leven suffered during the war. The brick walls still show chips made by bullets fired at Mrs. Thompson. During the battle the house was used as a hospital by Federal troops.
Soldiers of both armies when retiring from the first day’s encounter stopped off for water at the cistern behind the house. Cutting back across the lawn to rejoin their comrades on the Franklin Road they completely obliterated the design of the garden and trampled all traces of the plants into the mud and snow.
During the years of discouragement and desolation that followed, the garden was neglected. Later, when Mary McConnell Overton came to Glen Leven as the bride of John Thompson, Jr., she assisted her mother-in-law in moving and remaking the garden. Using a walk ten feet wide and one hundred feet long as the central design, the original flowers and shrubs were replanted in beds and borders on both sides. At this time peonies, lilacs, roses, lemon lilies, magnolias, snowballs, and the smoketree were added.
In addition to the forest trees shading the wide lawn at Glen Leven there are many other notable ones. Among them is an enormous specimen of Paulownin, a dozen English field maples which came as cuttings from Kew Gardens, England, and a number of rare Fustic or “yellowwood” trees, which were brought down from the Overton Hills.
Glen Leven is the home of Dr. and Mrs. A.W. Harris. Mrs. Harris is a great-granddaughter of Thomas Thompson, the original settler.
From the website of the Land Trust For Tennessee:
In an incredibly generous gift, The Land Trust for Tennessee was bequeathed the historic Glen Leven home and its surrounding sixty-five acres from Susan M. West. The property is located in Nashville, Tennessee at 4000 Franklin Road. In fulfilling Ms. West’s wishes for her property, The Land Trust is giving thoughtful consideration to ideas on what to do with this treasure in Davidson County. We began accepting proposals for the property in 2007. While reviewing the offers, The Land Trust has two primary guiding principles: (1) Ms. West’s will and (2) the mission of The Land Trust for Tennessee. Due to the importance of Glen Leven to Nashville, The Land Trust is taking the time needed, however long, to determine its future. The final decision of the use of the Glen Leven Property lies solely with The Land Trust for Tennessee. In the meantime the house is being well cared for and remains occupied.
The Battle of Nashville Preservation Society was asked to recover all relics at the Glen Leven Estate by its owner, the Land Trust of Tennessee. Manning the metal detectors and shovels are, left to right, Thomas Cartwright, Mark Swann, Rebecca Swann, and BONPS President Jim Kay.
Jim Kay displays a Union army breastplate found at the Glen Leven Estate.