Merritt Mansion

200 Years of Nashville History At the Heart of Wedgewood Village

The Founding and The Frontier

The story of the Merritt Mansion begins in 1779 with Captain John Rains. Rains came to the area with Nashville co-founder James Robertson. On Christmas Day 1779, Rains crossed the frozen Cumberland River to start a new life with his wife Christiana, their children, 19 cows, two steers, and 17 horses.

A true frontiersman, Rains preferred the solitude of nature over civilization. He left the safety of Fort Nashborough to settle 640 acres of land to the South and quickly established a compound of fortified rough-cut log cabins. Despite the difficulty of frontier life, the Rains family turned the frontier into farmland and raised eleven children on the property, many of whom built their own homes there. When the land was divided between the children upon Rains's death in 1834, his daughter Sally Rains Merritt inherited the 43 acres on which she would eventually build what we now know as the Merritt Mansion.

Layers of the original log cabin are still visible within the house, giving it a distinct character.

Evolving With The Country

It’s unknown if Sally moved into her father's house or built her own, but sometime in the 1840s, she expanded a log cabin on the site and renovated it in the Federal style that gained popularity after the Revolutionary War. Decades later, the home was caught in the middle of the Civil War. Despite being positioned between Union and Confederate forces during the 1864 Battle of Nashville, the Merritt home survived the conflict that effectively ended Southern resistance in Tennessee. 

In the years after the Civil War, the home passed to Sarah's daughter, Christina Merritt Hagan, who would once again transform it to reflect the trends and technologies of the day. With the Industrial Revolution came new industrialized methods in construction and manufacturing, which made new architectural styles available to a broader population. In 1874, Christina and her husband Frank added the brick façade, mansard roof, and Italianate details that survive today. The new design reflected the family's wealth and professional success. But the log cabin that started it all is still visible today as a part of the structure. 

The Heart of a Neighborhood

After the Hagans died, their daughter Anna Hagan Tate inherited the property, continuing the tradition of the Merritt Mansion passing on to daughters. That tradition ended when Anna sold it to Thomas G. and Birdie Hargrove in 1921, marking the first time the home was owned by someone other than a descendant of John Rains.

Over the next 80 years, the house slowly fell into disrepair until 2003, when the City of Nashville ordered its demolition. Local advocates found passionate buyers to protect the home, and from 2004–2014, new owners, Holly Young and Patrick Murphy, worked diligently to return the Mansion to its former glory.

Nashville-based rock band The Kings of Leon purchased the Merritt Mansion from Holly and Patrick in 2014. In 2021, AJ Capital Partners bought the property to preserve its historic integrity while reimagining the Merritt Mansion as the heart of the Wedgewood Village community. From founding fort to sprawling farm to suburban cottage, Wedgewood Houston’s Merritt Mansion is synonymous with the development of South Nashville and tells a story of the evolving landscapes, industries, and architectural language over the last 200 years.


In 2023, cëcret by cë gallery took residency bringing contemporary art experience to the historic home.

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