Month: March 2014

Historic Renraw – East Nashville

Driving down Gallatin Road today, you are faced with row after row of sketchy corner markets, fast food restaurants, check advance places, and don’t get me started on how many Hair Worlds there are.  If I needed to sum it up in one word, the only one suitable would be “unattractive.” Though, at one time, it was the beautiful “summer” home of one of Nashville’s wealthiest men – Percy Warner.

The Warner Brothers are best known for their namesake parks on the west side of the city – Edwin and Percy Warner Parks.  However, I was unaware that Percy might have been ultra-hip East Nashville’s first hipster with his daddy’s money (James Warner was co-founder of Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad; later sole owner of Warner Iron Company) and quirky pet choices (he kept a beloved crane named Rufus, among other exotic animals, on the grounds of the home).

Warner named the Estate “Renraw,” (Warner spelled backwards) which is now the site of the Nashville Auto Diesel College.  There is a plaque proclaiming that you are entering “Historic Renraw” as you turn down Cahal Avenue, legitimizing the surrounding sprawl with a small note on what was once an “escape” from city life.

It is unclear to me why someone would have a country home nowhere near a natural water source before the days of indoor plumbing, but there may have been a spring somewhere on the property.  My old neighbors in Renraw told me that there are limestone springs all over underneath the ground here but I have been unable to find any information about this.  If anyone knows anything about springs in East Nashville, please let me know!

What’s Lies Beneath – Percy Priest Lake

While never more than 30 minutes from a river, lake, waterfall, abandoned quarry or swimming hole; the only (sizable) natural lake in Tennessee is Reelfoot Lake, formed by the 1812 New Madrid earthquake.   To create the other lakes, the property was seized by the State and flooded, leaving behind underwater ghost-towns and the secrets of the people who once lived there…

Tennessee is well known for it’s Body Farm in the outskirts of Knoxville, where students and forensic experts study bodies in various stages of composition to enhance their knowledge of estimating situational time of death.  But before this world-famous Body Farm was another – now mostly buried at the bottom of the Percy Priest Lake just outside of Nashville.

Since the mid 1800’s, Uriah Moreland and his family owned a large farm that lie in the path to be flooded to create part of the Percy Priest Lake.  Rumors around town were that Uriah and his wife Abby practiced black magic rituals in the woods of their property.  Uriah was also famous for his temper and his disappearing farm hands, who had dubbed the place, “the body farm.”

When, in the 1960’s, the Civil Corp of Engineers came to remove Uriah and his family from the property, they found Abby and the children brutally murdered, but no sign of Uriah.

The family graves were moved, and the land flooded but Uriah was never found.  Many people claim to feel a “darkness” on the land at the edge of the lake where the Moreland farm once was, but maybe old Uriah himself is the one still haunting those woods.