Days Gone By: Historic Homes Along Del Rio Pike

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By Rick Warwick

I never tire of driving out Del Rio Pike from Franklin to Forest Home. I remember my first experience in 1970 driving along this winding byway through one of Williamson County’s finest landscapes. The area was more rural then with broad expansive plowed fields at every turn. I couldn’t wait to catch a second glance of the many historic homes along this six-mile trek.

A little over a mile from town I discovered the old Baugh homestead, known as Richmond Place, then in a sad state of repair waiting to be demolished to make way for Magnolia Place Apartments. Originally, it was the home of Isaac Hilliard, built in 1830, and for many years the home of the Joseph W. Baugh family. The interior was originally papered in exquisite landscape patterns depicting scenes from Shakespeare’s plays and Scott’s Lady of the Lake.

The adjoining farm was known as the Y.M. Rizer place with a striking Second Empire house built in the 1880s. The beautiful Mansard slate-roof and double bay windows set it apart from any other residence in the county. It retained the name Mapleshade through the ownership of the Joe Reese family into the 1980s. Sadly, today it is surrounded by a subdivision and Del Rio Pike has been diverted through another subdivision so that it does not pass in front of this old homestead anymore.

Just past Mapleshade, you can see Sweet Home sitting among a grove of trees with a straight-as-an-arrow driveway. Sweet Home was built for James B. Davis in 1845 in a vernacular Greek Revival-style consisting of a one and one-half story brick dwelling surrounded by fields of corn. Its interior alone makes it unique to the county and possibly all of Tennessee.

In the next bend of the road, you will see or almost see among a grove of large trees, River Grange, the 1826 home of Thomas Moore, son-in-law of Nicholas Tate Perkins. In the 1940s, General Jacob McGavock Dickinson bought the farm and renamed it Traveler’s Rest, after his former home in Nashville. The Arabian horses from Dickinson’s stables were nationally acclaimed.

Passing by Cotton Lane, you will next approach Two Rivers, the home of Nicholas Tate Perkins, built in 1820, a plain Federal-style two-story brick. In 1848, Two Rivers became the home of the Simon Shy family of Kentucky. A son, Lieutenant Colonel William M. Shy of the 20th Tennessee Infantry CSA was killed at the Battle of Nashville and his body was returned home in an iron casket and buried in the back yard. Grave robbers vandalized the sanctity of Lieutenant Colonel Shy’s grave in 1978 causing an outcry across middle Tennessee. Unfortunately, a crime never solved.

After crossing the West Harpeth River bridge, you will approach Meeting of the Waters, the home of Thomas Hardin Perkins, built in the first decade of the 19th century. Thomas Hardin Perkins was considered the richest man in Williamson County with iron furnaces, more than three-hundred slaves and over a thousand acres of rich farmland. Below the house, one can see the confluence of the Big Harpeth and West Harpeth Rivers, giving the house its romantic name.

Around another bend in the road, you will come to Old Hillsboro Road and the sleepy community of Forest Home. You are encouraged to take a Sunday drive along Del Rio Pike to witness for yourself its beauty but please respect the privacy of the owners of these magnificent historic homes. Warning! Watch out for bikers, they too enjoy this glorious landscape.

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