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Nashville in Davidson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

The Caldwell Years

Tennessee Agricultural Museum

 
 
The Caldwell Years Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 25, 2022
1. The Caldwell Years Marker
Inscription.  Rogers Caldwell, "the J.P. Morgan of the South,” purchased the acreage that would later become the Ellington Agricultural Center from descendants of the Ewing family. Caldwell was a Nashville native who established Caldwell and Company in 1917, at the age of 27. This conglomerate included banks, insurance companies, newspapers, and a baseball team. He chartered the Bank of Tennessee in 1919 and initiated connections with state government.

Caldwell began construction of Brentwood House in 1927. Built in the Greek Revival style, the mansion was modeled after former U.S. president Andrew Jackson's home, The Hermitage. The property became a showplace that centered on Caldwell's home and horse barns, which held high quality horses for racing and breeding.

Caldwell also grew tobacco and raised cattle, with tenants supplying the labor. Three log cabins that were likely tenant homes remain on the property today. Tenant farming, like sharecropping, refers to the practice of renting out land to individuals or families who divided the profits of their harvest with the landowner. In theory, tenant farming allowed
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poor farmers to make enough money to buy their own properties. In practice, tenancy trapped poor farmers in a downward cycle of debt.

Along with sharecroppers, Caldwell employed Black craftspeople and laborers. Albert Phillips was a Black groom who worked for Caldwell for thirty years. People who bred and raced horses in the area described Phillips as "kindly, considerate, and tactful." Phillips died in 1953 and was buried near the former horse paddocks at a cemetery at Brentwood Hall.

At the height of Caldwell's success, his insurance assets totaled $230 million, and his net worth amounted to half a billion dollars, equaling to at least $7.9 billion in 2021. The stock market crash in October 1929 ruined Caldwell's financial empire and eventually brought to light unethical and sometimes illegal banking practices that the State later prosecuted in the courts.

Photo captions
Top: Photograph of Rogers Caldwell from newspaper article: "Rogers Caldwell to Sell Horses and Go to Farming.” The Keonville News Sentinel November 17, 1930
Bottom left: Picture of the construction of Brentwood House, the home of Rogers Caldwell. This structure is now the Moss Administration Building for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.
Bottom right: Will and Willie Wilson,
The Caldwell Years Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 25, 2022
2. The Caldwell Years Marker
two married Black employees of Caldwell, lived in this house just beyond Brentwood House. Willie Wilson served as Caldwell's laundress. Courtesy of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansAgricultureIndustry & Commerce.
 
Location. 36° 3.753′ N, 86° 44.809′ W. Marker is in Nashville, Tennessee, in Davidson County. Marker can be reached from Hogan Road. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 404 Hogan Rd, Nashville TN 37211, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Early History (a few steps from this marker); Ellington Agricultural Center (a few steps from this marker); Caring for Historic Cabins (a few steps from this marker); Kitchen Garden History (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Ellington Agricultural Center (approx. 0.2 miles away); Crieve Hall (approx. 0.6 miles away); May-Granbery House and Alford Cemetery (approx. 1.1 miles away); Travellers' Rest (approx. 1.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Nashville.
 
The Caldwell Years Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Darren Jefferson Clay, August 25, 2022
3. The Caldwell Years Marker
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on September 10, 2022. It was originally submitted on September 4, 2022, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. This page has been viewed 254 times since then and 20 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on September 4, 2022, by Darren Jefferson Clay of Duluth, Georgia. • Mark Hilton was the editor who published this page.

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Feb. 25, 2024