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!