150th Anniversary of Big Holly

1866-2016: One and a Half Centuries of Murfreesboro History

Travel down Maney Avenue to the 700 Block and you will find an impressive brown brick three story home. The home has been here for one hundred and fifty years. It is named Big Holly for the large 200-year-old American Holly Tree in the front yard.

Let’s start at the beginning, in 1789 Ezekiel White (a private in the Continental line) was granted 274 acres by the state of North Carolina for his service in the Revolutionary War. In 1798 the 274 acres was sold to Col. Hardy Murfree for 100 pounds. Private White had served under Col. Murfree and did not wish to move west. Col. Murfree had been granted several thousand acres in what is now Williamson County and was in the process of construction of a large mansion on his plantation there and purchased this property from White to add to his Middle Tennessee holdings. In 1799 Col. Murfree died without a will. Sally Hardy Murfree, Col. Murfree’s daughter, inherited the 273 acre tract in 1813. Sally and her husband Dr. James Maney moved west to start his medical practice and begin their stay here in a two-room brick home. Sally and Dr. Maney were very prosperous and added many more acres to their holdings and created the Oakland Plantation and the historical house you see today.

On April 12, 1861 the Civil War began and the lives of the local people would never be the same. In March 1862 Federal forces first occupied Murfreesboro. By the end of July it had become a major Union supply base. June 17, 1862, Col. John Parkhurst of the 9th Michigan moved his camp to this property and Major Duffield set up the Union headquarters in the Maney’s home. July 13, 1862, General Nathan Bedford Forrest recaptured Murfreesboro for the Confederacy. Duffield was removed from Oaklands and Parkhurst’s Michigan 9th was removed from this property. The victory was shortlived. On December 31, 1862 – January 2, 1863, the battle of Stones River, one of the bloodiest battles of the war, would return Murfreesboro to the control of the Union.

April 9, 1865, General Lee surrendered to General Grant and by June 2, 1865, the war was over. Murfreesboro along with the rest of the South was devastated. The Maney family was left with financial burdens that would force them to eventually lose everything.

In 1866 construction of this house on this property was started by J.P. Henderson. In 1870, J.P. Henderson overextended himself and was forced to give up the home for indebtedness.

Lavinia Thompson Cannon Claiborne moved to 718 N. Maney in the 1870s. She was the daughter of Governor Cannon and sister to Rachel Adeline Cannon Maney, mistress of Oaklands. In 1848 Lavinia married Micajah Green Lewis Claiborne, a soldier. Lewis and Rachel Adeline Maney survived financially by selling off lots on what is now Maney Avenue. Eventually, after the death of Lewis and the sale of the final property and residence, the former Mistress of Oakland Plantation and Mansion, Rachel Adeline Maney moved in with her sister Lavinia at 718 N. Maney Avenue.

Lavinia and Rachel Adeline were down but not defeated. In 1892 they began what would become a show of survival. The house at 718 N. Maney was to change dramatically. The roof was removed, a third floor and a new Victorian Queen Anne style roof was added with eyebrow windows to reflect the new Victorian style. The staircase was moved from the front of the central hall to the back to make a more grand entrance. The porch was changed and a gazebo added. Gas and electric lighting replaced the kerosene lanterns. Running water pumped from the cistern would fill the newly installed bathtub and toilet located in the bathroom on the second floor above the outdoor kitchen. The outdoor kitchen was joined to the house by a pantry. Seven of the fireplaces were converted to burn coal.

January 14, 1908 Charles F Perkins purchased the home for $6500. Perkins added an underground greenhouse and a formal rose garden. The Samuel Huddleston family (Sam, his wife, six daughters and a son) moved into the home in 1910. The six Huddleston sisters lived in the house for the next half century. Only one married. Annelle North was born in the house in 1929. The total income of the six sisters and Mrs. Huddleston was from sewing, making fruit cakes and holly wreaths at Christmas time. The home fell in disrepair. The Huddleston sisters lived there until the 1960s.

The house then was abandoned and vandalized. Local college students and others held parties in the abandoned house. At one party a large hot fire was built in the front parlor fireplace. The floor in the room above caught fire and burned a large portion on the bedroom floor before burning itself out. Windows were broken out and the metal tile roof, that was installed in 1892, made need of umbrellas inside during hard rains, but the structure of the home was sound. All walls were solid brick. The first level is eight bricks thick, second level is five bricks and the third level is three bricks thick.

A group of investors purchased the home at auction in the 1960s for $3500. They thought the lot was worth about $10,000 and it would cost around $6000 to demolish the building. William and Ann Holland purchased the house from the investors and saved it from demolition. They lived here from the 1960s til the mid 1990s.

Gordon and Sara Bell bought the home in 1997 and began to restore the home to its former elegance. Mantles and door facings were removed to find pieces of the original wall coverings and paint.  With the help of a very talented woman at Hoover paint store, the wall coverings are almost identical to the 1892 wall coverings. All molding, mantles and trim were painstakingly restored to the original state. The central hall that had been blocked off and made into a bathroom when the house was used as apartments was reopened. The pantry was restored and the kitchen was returned to the original outdoor (summer) kitchen. The winter kitchen in the basement was restored to reflect the nineteenth century kitchen it had been. A covered handicap ramp, carport and shop were added in a 19th century carriage house design.

Many items in the home today were returned by Annelle. Her grandmother’s sewing machine, some of the handwork done by her aunts and mother and many other items. Also there are several items that were dug from one of the pits in the backyard. What you see today is the way the home would have looked after the 1892 remodel done by Rachel Adeline Maney and Lavinia Claiborne.

This year you have the opportunity to tour both of Adaline Maney’s homes.

Open House to Celebrate 150 Year Anniversary
718 N. Maney Avenue
Saturday, July 9 • 3-7 pm

Oaklands July Jamboree Summer Picnic Party
900 N. Maney Avenue
Friday, July 22 • 6:30 pm