A glimpse at the most expensive homes in Nashville

Sunday, August 26, 2012 at 9:42pm

Every month in The City Paper, we feature Headline Homes, a top-10 list of the priciest single-family home sales in the Nashville area.

It’s grown to be one of our most popular features. For those of us who do not have the means to put our names on deeds for seven-figure houses, it’s intriguing to see who is buying and selling these residences — and what lies behind those very expensive walls. And for those who can afford them? Perhaps there’s a little keeping-up-with-the-Joneses going on.

Whatever the case, people love to read about high-dollar houses, to catch a glimpse at the movers and shakers, to learn the stories of these homes and the people who live within them.

But Headline Homes is just that: a glimpse. By definition, it’s the priciest homes sold — not necessarily the city’s most valuable.

We often get asked, “what’s No. 1 in the entire city?” Where is our Park Place? Our Boardwalk? Those symbols of ultimate value on Nashville’s own Monopoly board. This week, we take a look at Davidson County’s 20 Most Valuable Homes. Using property tax data from the county property assessor, we
compiled this list, ranked 1 to 20 by appraised value.

This is a list of country music stars, old money, entrepreneurs, and oh-so-many Frists.

A caveat: property tax appraisals include not just the value of the building, but also the value of the land. The soil on Hillsboro or Chickering is worth more than the same tract on, for example, Love Circle. Homes sitting on 40 acres will have a higher assessment than those on smaller parcels. But, by and large, this list is an accurate reflection of who lives in the priciest places.

The people who live in these houses go to great lengths for privacy — virtually none allowed City Paper photographers access. Some homeowners have the legal ownership of their homes in trusts, providing a level of anonymity.

Where the owner is listed in public records, the name is provided. If it’s behind a trust, actual ownership is revealed only if a search provided the necessary information.


1. 1152 Crater Hill, Nashville, 37215

Owners: 1152 Crater Hill Trust

Appraised value: $12,478,748

Purchase price and date: $3 million; Aug. 20, 2004

It’s a home befitting a royal family.

It’s 37 rooms spread throughout an astounding 22,000 square feet of living space sitting on 17 wooded acres. Just five of those rooms are bedrooms — but 11 of them are bathrooms. A royal family has lots of guests.

There are five fireplaces and a 1,875-square-foot pool out back. There’s a porch that, at more than 3,000 square feet, is bigger than the average home.

A king and queen need a castle.

When the anonymously named trust snapped up the land eight years ago and then again in 2008 when construction got underway, there was great discussion about which Nashville power couple was building their palace.

Celeb-watching web sites speculated it was our favorite Aussie power couple — that Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman decided to hop over the line from Williamson County.

But a search revealed the truth.

A few years back on a lost pet website, someone posted a picture of a cat — Cleopatra, or Cleo, for short. The gray-and-black kitty had been lost, last seen at home, at 1152 Crater Hill.

The owner’s name: “Maggie M.”

Around the same time, the address showed up again in a campaign finance disclosure. The donor: Timothy McGraw, father of Maggie.

Indeed, Nashville’s finest castle belongs to its most famous celebrity pair: McGraw and his wife, Faith Hill.


2. 1304 Chickering Road, Belle Meade, 37215

Owners: Thomas F. Frist Jr. and Patricia C. Frist

Appraised value: $12,224,588

Purchase price and date: $2.2 million; Jan. 11, 1993

There are lots of ways to make money in Nashville. Like the McGraw-Hills, you can sing your way to wealth.

Or, like the Frists, you can start the nation’s most successful hospital company.

Thomas Jr. founded Hospital Corporation of America with his father — Thomas Sr. — and Jack Massey in 1968. Since then, it’s grown and grown.

Sitting on 47 wooded acres in Belle Meade, this 38,000-square-foot mansion — just half of it is counted as usable living space — greets guests with a fountain in the circular drive and reach-for-the-stars columns. Four chimneys for four fireplaces rise like exclamation points on the charm of this Old South classic.

Frist quietly started buying land in 1993 and moved into the home in 2001. So big is the home — and the spread it sits upon — that a Nashville Post story from 2001 reported that rumors spread that Frist planned to turn the home into a museum, à la Cheekwood, though there’s no indication that’s true.


3. 1358 Page Road, Forest Hills, 37205

Owner: Sylvia C. Roberts

Appraised value: $9,558,500

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed March 7, 2006

Roberts picked up her home in the wake of her divorce from Richard Roberts, the mega-capitalist who made his dollars in the heyday of the 1990s with bank-card payment processing. He took the company public, went through a merger and walked away — along with a partner — with a cool $1 billion.

This 20,000-square-foot home is reportedly nicknamed “Glory,” allegedly a subtle dig by Mr. Roberts at neighbors Bobby and Carol Frist who call their home “Glimpse of Glory.”

In any case, Ms. Roberts takes advantage of the spacious environs by hosting numerous parties — usually for the arts-supporting set. By way of example, a photo that accompanied numerous obituaries for the late Marvin Hamlisch was taken in the Roberts home during a party for the musical The Nutty Professor, the late composer’s last work, which had its world premiere this month in Nashville.

Of note: Roberts’ home is currently for sale, listed for $19.5 million and has been on the market for more than a year.


4. 810 Jackson Blvd., Belle Meade, 37205

Owners: Thomas F. Frist III and Julie D. Frist

Appraised value: $9,311,500

Purchase price and date: $7.5 million; Nov. 28, 2005

Originally built in 1932, this one is still known as the Fleming Place to the older Nashville set, to this day carrying the name of the late Sam Fleming, the banking giant who made Third National into “Friendly Third.”

Among Third National’s best banking bets was coming in with a company-saving financing package for HCA in 1974, filling the gap after First American National backed out.

So it’s a little piece of Nashville business world kismet that the home is now in the hands of Tommy III.

It’s a beautiful home — all columns and windows and cupolas across the front of its 10,219 square feet with 18 rooms — eight of them bedrooms. It, of course, has a pool, and its nearly four acres at the corner of Jackson and The Boulevard represent one of the best-located tracts in the city.


5. 703 Bowling Ave., Nashville, 37205

Owner: William H. Frist

Appraised value: $7,988,200

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed on Nov. 24, 2004; originally purchased for $1.25 million in 1999

The original Frist place — the first Thomas Frist bought it in 1949 — this 12,901-square-foot house is now home to former U.S. Senate majority leader and current education reformer Bill Frist.

Sitting on just more than four acres on Bowling Avenue — one of Nashville’s earliest thoroughfares of wealth — it is, like so many others, a picture of classic opulence: fireplaces everywhere, porte-cocheres here and there, a grand great room greeting guests who cross the threshold under a second-level veranda.

A “small” 924-square-foot bathhouse overlooks two pools installed in 2008.


6. 1156 Crater Hill, Nashville, 37215

Owner: George E. Mudter Jr., Trustee

Appraised value: $7,827,844

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed on Sept. 11, 2008

Yet another Frist makes the list. Mudter represents a trust for Billy Frist — son of Thomas Jr. — and his wife, Jennifer. Billy Frist, president of Frist Capital, is a prominent art collector and director of the museum on Broadway with his family’s name.

This 16,777-square-foot modern was built in 1998 with 20 rooms. Its nearly 17 acres abut the neighbors’ place ranking No. 1 on the list.


7. 920 Tyne Blvd., Oak Hill, 37220

Owner: Judith K. Bracken

Appraised value: $7,750,800

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed on May 29, 2009; originally purchased for $1 million on Sept. 25, 2000.

Judith Bracken is the wife of HCA Chairman and CEO Richard Bracken. He quitclaimed his interest in the home back in May 2009 for “love and affection” (and, perhaps, tax reasons).

The Brackens home is 27,684 square feet, built in 2004. There are hints of the White House in the home, with a short portico connecting the main house to, well, a west wing (no oval office, though).


8. 5353 Hillsboro Road, Forest Hills, 37215

Owner: Howard W. Herndon, trustee

Appraised value: $7,371,700

Purchase price and date: $4.6 million; January 3, 1997

The owners of this home are Gregory and Collie Daily.

Mr. Daily, the CEO of iPayment, went through a very nasty and litigious bankruptcy in 2009 after a California businessman successfully sued him for $350 million.

The bankruptcy was finally discharged in late January.

This home was built in 1989 by former Nashville financier Richard Osias and had a distinctive fleur-de-lis fountain out front.

The symbol of the French royal family hints at the architectural style of the home: a classic chateau in the heart of Forest Hills: a 21-room, 16,000-square-foot home on more than nine acres.


9. 530 Jackson Blvd., Belle Meade, 37205

Owners: C. Stephen and Milah P. Lynn

Appraised value: $7,312,800

Purchase price and date: $1 million; May 15, 1995

Steve Lynn was Shoney’s CEO for 20 years, but now heads up Back Yard Burger.

There’s obviously big money in fast-casual dining.

The home was extensively renovated in 1998, but it sure does look older. Two stories of wrap-around porches complete with wrought-iron work on the second floor exude hints of Deep South luxury on this L-shaped, 22-room, 21,000-square-footer.

The tract was originally the home of Paul Davis, the president of the First American National Bank who briefly owned The Tennessean in the 1930s.


10. 5836 Hillsboro Pike, Forest Hills, 37215

Owners: Paul R. and Carla M. McCombs

Appraised value: $7,207,200

Purchase price and date: $1.05 million; April 30, 1998

The McCombs — he’s a neurosurgeon of some renown — have tried to sell this house a number of times in the past five or six years. For now, though, they’ve still got it.

They reworked the existing 1950s home — for years, it was owned by country music singer Faron Young — into a Colorado-style lodge.

Outside is a stocked koi pond, a putting green, a pool and a hot tub. At least three waterfalls — at the koi pond and pool, plus another in the home’s entryway — add to the Rocky Mountain spot fever at the home. The McCombses are big supporters of the local Humane Society, with the doc telling Nashville Medical News a few years back that, in addition to the fish, the family owns a variety of parrots that live a comfortable life in the
on-site aviary.


11. 1326 Page Road, Belle Meade, 37205

Owners: Robert A. and Carol Frist

Appraised Value: $7,201,100

Purchase Price And Date: $1 million; Feb. 1, 1982

The final Frists on the list: HealthStream President and CEO Bobby and his wife live in this 11,995-square-foot home built in 1937.

Like the other Frist family members, this branch of the well-heeled tree likes their privacy, with the home centered on a 26-acre Belle Meade tract, surrounded on nearly all sides by dense forest.

The home itself is a stately and sturdy brick estate with an imposing covered front porch flanked by flagpoles at the end of a circular drive.


12. 5309 Hillsboro Pike, Forest Hills, 37215

Owner: Mike Curb

Appraised value: $6,020,900

Purchase price and date: $2.445 million; Aug. 14, 1992

This home, built in 1930, is a brick-and-mortar time line of Nashville business history.

The property was sold by Dewitt Thompson Jr. — the founder of what is now Thompson Machinery — to Jesse Stallings in the late 1930s. Stallings was the founder of pioneering charter airlines Capitol Airways.

Stallings’ late wife sold the home in the 1970s to Irby Simpkins, the publisher of the Nashville Banner. And in 1992, Simpkins sold to high-powered record executive Mike Curb.

Other than the residual business-savvy protoplasm that must just ooze from the walls, the big brick home includes a pool with bathhouse, a greenhouse and two underground water tanks with a combined 6,000-gallon capacity.


13. 1310 Chickering Road, Belle Meade, 37215

Owners: Doctor R. and Shirley Crants

Appraised value: $5,949,100

Purchase price and date: $3.7 million; March 23, 1998

Doc Crants is the former CEO of private-prison operator CCA — and judging by his home, the incarceration business was booming.

The existing home was built in 1995 by then-owner Richard Evans, a director at LifePoint, and does have a hint of old-school prison design, in that the exterior is very dark gray stone and the front is guarded — by handsomely landscaped trees.

On the other hand, there probably aren’t too many CCA facilities with a 1,000-square-foot pool.


14. 4409 Franklin Pike, Oak Hill, 37204

Owner: Cheryl Harris, trustee

Appraised value: $5,673,400

Purchase price and date: $3.2 million; Dec. 6, 1999

Harris is an accountant to a number of big-time country stars, and a handful of “maps to the stars” — a staple of Nashville’s tourism industry for half a century — indicate this is the home of Martina McBride.

Built in 1920, it was owned for many years by pioneering health care entrepreneur Don Abercrombie, who was indicted on TennCare fraud in 2010.

The stately home includes a swimming pool and tennis court, along with 22 rooms spread over 13,000 square feet.


15. 1620 Chickering Road, Forest Hills, 37215

Owner: Mary Louise Leblanc

Appraised value: $5,608,900

Purchase price and date: $1.2 million; June 11, 2001

When Leblanc — she’s an artist — bought this tract in 2001, the home on it was a classic, stone mid-century house. It was modest — 3,139 square feet and just three bedrooms.

But Leblanc got to work.

Now, the plot features a 10,640-square-foot home with five bedrooms, four fireplaces and, yes, a swimming pool.

The property itself included the home of Vanderbilt’s fourth chancellor, Harvie Branscomb, who is best known for both integrating Vanderbilt against the wishes of alumni and, under pressure from the trustees, expelling James Lawson, a leader of the local sit-in movement.


16. 416 Jackson Blvd., Belle Meade, 37205

Owner: Elizabeth Litterer Nichols

Appraised value: $5,597,400

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed on Dec. 15, 1989

Nichols — along with her husband Donnie — are the founders of JDN Realty, once a powerful Southern states real estate investment trust.

For now, they are respected art collectors.

Their classic Belle Meade home was built in 1936 and sits on 4.6 acres. It has 20 rooms in its 18,195 square feet and sets the record on this list with eight fireplaces.


17. 39 Bancroft Place, Forest Hills, 37215

Owner: Allen D. Lentz, Trustee

Appraised value: $5,580,700

Purchase price and date: $5.3 million; Jan. 31, 2012

The most-recently sold home on this list. Earlier this year Lentz purchased the 20,000-square–footer, which features, for some reason, four ovens in the kitchen.

Lentz represents a number of health care interests, but is also a respected real estate attorney, and certainly, he could have bought the home for himself.

Before the January transaction, this was the longtime home of Jason Sheer — owner of the Tin Roof — and his wife.


18. 3432 Love Circle, Nashville, 37212

Owner: Dwight P. Wiles, trustee

Appraised value: $5,312,700

Purchase price and date: $332,500; Oct. 27, 2005

The owner of this home didn’t hide behind a trust for privacy purposes — or if he did, he didn’t have much follow-through on keeping a low profile.

But John Rich isn’t exactly known for keeping a low profile.

The bombastic country music singer caused consternation among his neighbors on Love Circle when he erected this monument to modernism.

The 11,000-square-foot home leaps 73 feet skyward, blocking Love Circle’s famous view of downtown. It has been compared to a warehouse and a giant coffee maker, and its gates, emblazoned with “Mount Richmore,” and its infamously (and, at one time, criminally) bright security lights cause neighbors to raise eyebrows and shake their heads.


19. 4410 Howell Place, Belle Meade, 37205

Owner: Linda T. Crawford

Appraised value: $5.265 million

Purchase price and date: quitclaimed on July 31, 2008

Mrs. Crawford is the wife of former Caremark chief Mac Crawford.

Their Belle Meade home was, like so many, built in the early 1930s and includes all one would expect: first- and second-floor balconies on the front, columns, brick, plantation shutters. The east and west wings plus another wing farther east are connected to the main house via porticos, giving the illusion that this home is actually four separate buildings.


20. 1214 Chickering Road, Belle Meade, 37215

Owners: John R. and Stephanie C. Ingram

Appraised value: $5,257,500

Purchase price and date: $4.215 million; July 19, 1998

It is appropriate the list ends with a home on Chickering — according to this list, the street is Nashville’s toniest — and that it ends with the scion of Nashville’s bluest blue-blood family.

John R. Ingram is chairman of the company bearing his family’s name.

The home was built in 1949 with whitewashed walls, black shutters and plenty of glass — it is elegant in its simplicity. Well, as simple as a 24-room, 10,644-square-foot home can be.


It has a pool and tennis courts and was renovated in the mid-‘90s and spent just two weeks on the market in those heady real estate days.

4 Comments on this post:

By: rickmuz on 8/27/12 at 9:42

WOW!!!! (Sen) Dr. Frist is living very large. The Google maps image is very impressive!

By: brrrrk on 8/27/12 at 9:55

rickmuz said

"WOW!!!! (Sen) Dr. Frist is living very large. The Google maps image is very impressive!"

More importantly, 20% of the top 20 most expensive homes in Nashville are under one families name.

By: FLeFew on 8/27/12 at 2:35

I am surprised that the list did not include "Longleat," the home of Kathy and Clay Jackson on the corner of Tyne and Hillsboro. It is perhaps the largest cattle ranch in the city with a beautiful estate house at the end of a long drive. it is named for Kathy's ancestral (Thynne) home in England.

By: Rasputin72 on 8/29/12 at 6:45

This is the kind of information that is very interesting. I laud each of these homeowners for their skills in being able to create these beautiful homes.

One of these days some wealthy Nashvillian will leave one of these homes to an underclass family from one of the housing projects. Perhaps then we can see how long in months and years before the home looks exactly like a pig sty.