Blast of Nashvilles past

As stainless steel lofts and high-rise towers begin to capture more residential dollars in Nashville than suburban square footage, Old Hickory Village sits as a quiet reminder of our city’s easily overlooked manufacturing roots.

Old Hickory Village is a place where residents tend to a large community garden every afternoon and where “walkability” is rivaled only by its much younger coastal sister, Seaside, Fl. But it’s also a place where social media has ironically taken on a life of its own. A glance at the Old Hickory Village on Facebook uncovers a real-time neighborhood watch and a place to barter furniture, clothing and services between Villagers.

“Having lived in Old Hickory Village for five years now, my experience has been that the neighborhood appeals to anyone who simply appreciates a true community - clean streets, charming houses, and neighbors who invest in each others' lives, “ said Villager Laura Gore. “I think that most people consider their ‘neighbors’ to be the people whose houses are next door or across the street; however, in Old Hickory Village, we refer to each other as neighbors even if we live ten blocks apart.”

Bound by Old Hickory Lake and a former Dupont manufacturing plant, The Village also stages one of Nashville’s most celebrated annual home tours each fall. This year’s event, scheduled for Oct. 13, promises no exception.

“This year, we’re planning 18 home stops and all of the houses in the tour except one, was built in 1918,” said Kim Huffines, the home tour coordinator. “We also have two churches on the tour, three or four local businesses and the Old Hickory Country Club, which was also built by Dupont during the 1920s.”

Old Hickory Village was born in 1918 when U.S. government contracted with DuPont to build what was then the world's largest gunpowder plant on 5,600 acres in the hairpin turn of the Cumberland River, known as Hadley's Bend. The company built a cluster of modest housing for its factory workers and by the end of WWI, more than 3,800 buildings had been constructed, with housing for 35,000 people.

DuPont built many more homes over the next decade, using the same basic floor plans it had used as the government's contractor on the original construction. DuPont maintained Old Hickory as a company town, repairing and renovating the homes on a regular basis, for the next quarter-century. In the late 1940s DuPont sold hundreds of the houses to employees who had been renting them.

What remains of the Village is, as they say, is history. Yet it’s history very well-preserved.

“Among my neighbors, you'll find a wide variety of incomes, backgrounds, faiths, politics, histories and dreams,” Gore said. “I think Old Hickory Village is a place where everyone feels welcome - I hope people will come see that for themselves during the Home Tour!”

The tour is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets can be purchased 10:30 a.m. at Old Hickory Church of Christ at 1001 Hadley Ave. in Old Hickory for $12 per person.

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