Because of the tenacity of its residents, both past and present, the area is booming, property values are soaring and young people are flocking to this neighborhood to provide a home for their young families.

Located on the East bank of the Cumberland River, just blocks from downtown Nashville, the Courthouse and the Tennessee Titan's Coliseum, its prime location offers urban living at its best. This is true today, as it was when Edgefield was an independent city from Jan 2, 1869 until it was annexed by Nashville on February 6, 1880. For this reason many of the movers and shakers of the 1800s developed this neighborhood. The founders of Nashville's premier businesses, doctors, governors, educators, and even Jesse and Frank James called Edgefield home. It is purported, and some claim documented, that Jesse attended and taught Sunday School at Tulip Street Methodist Church, which still stands today and is an integral part of the community. Jesse's home is also still standing, as are many of the original homes and churches. This is extremely remarkable when considering the tragedies and obstacles which these residents have overcome throughout the decades.

On Wednesday, March 22, 1916, Edgefield's first major disaster struck. Around 11:47 a.m., a fire started in a mill located on the banks of the Cumberland. Heavy March winds, with gales from 44-51 mph, fanned the flames through the streets of Edgefield consuming most buildings in its path. This great conflagration was brought under control around 4:30 that afternoon but only after taking the life of one person, destroying 648 homes and businesses, and leaving over 3,000 homeless. Many residents took flight across the river to newer neighborhoods, but many other stalwart individuals remained in Edgefield to rebuild. Cottages and bungalows were the vogue in 1916, and many examples of these styles are found today interspersed among the older Victorian homes.

Edgefield recovered and continued to rebuild; however, tragedy again struck. A tornado of monumental proportions hit the neighborhood in 1933 and many of its existing buildings were destroyed and/or damaged.

Once more Edgefield fell on hard times. Following WWII many of its lovely old homes were turned into boarding houses or converted into multiple apartments. By this time few of the original families remained and the problems were greatly compounded with the emergence of Urban Renewal. In the 1960s many more old homes fell victim to the wrecking ball. Entire blocks were leveled and more of the beautiful old mansions were lost. During this age when America was in love with all things modern, many forgot the beauty and importance of historic structures. Thanks to the efforts of a few gutsy people, many homes were saved. One brave lady even stood in her doorway with a shotgun and dared anyone to come near her home. That home, which has housed both a governor and a mayor, is still standing today.

History does repeat itself. In April of 1998, another tornado took the same path as the tornado of 1933, and again wreaked havoc on Edgefield. Homes and churches were greatly damaged and even more devastating was the loss of trees and flora. Aged trees were actually ripped from the ground by the roots and dumped across streets. Only minutes following this last catastrophe someone climbed high atop the steeple of Tulip Street Methodist Church and "Amazing Grace" began to resound throughout the neighborhood. This proved to be very prophetic. The neighbors of both Edgefield and the greater Nashville area joined together and worked for months on clearing the streets and providing assistance for those neighbors in need. It seems this dark cloud did have a silver lining. Edgefield has once again rebuilt, is thriving and is again a lovely neighborhood of people involved with each other and their community. Much of this would probably not have happened had it not been for the tornado of 1998.

These are exciting times for Edgefield. The streets are buzzing with activity. On any given day you may find mothers with strollers, joggers, residents walking their dogs or on the way to the closest coffee house to meet a friend and there is also the sound of new construction in the air. New condominiums (with a retro look) have been built and many restaurants have opened in the area. Residents once called Edgefield Nashville's best kept secret but it seems the secret is out. Twice a year residents invite the community to join in celebrating their progress and to help raise funds for the continued preservation of this historic district. On June 5th and 6th, residents will again open their doors for the 29th Annual Tour of Homes and on September 25th, they will host an annual wine tasting in the elegant gardens of one of its historic homes. Information on the neighborhood and on both of these events can be obtained at

©Copyright 2004 David Ray Skinner/SouthernReader. All rights reserved.