The  articles listed below celebrate the houses that make up Old Hickory Village. 

Beautification : Old Hickory News 15 Year Anniversary Souvenir Edition - 1939 - by. B.D. Cain

Nashville Industrial Corporation Markets the Village

Better Living Through Chemistry - 80 Years of Living in Old Hickory - Built By the Book:   segment of article that appears in June 8, 1998 Nashville Scene by Christine Kreyling

DuPont Engineers Set Out to Improve Village: DuPont Engineer Study 1929

Old Hickory House Inspiration for Habitat for Humanity House Design Winner Old Hickory Record Spring 1999

Home at Last: Editorial by Bernie Shehan on Moving to Old Hickory - Nashville Scene, June 24, 1999. 


Old Hickory News
15 Year Anniversary 
Souvenir Edition - 1939

by. B.D. Cain

Even the old-timers find it a difficult matter to realize that Old Hickory of today is the same town in which they lived ten to fifteen years ago. As related elsewhere in this anniversary edition of the News, the du Pont Company rehabilitated a run-down village left from the powder plant days, built hundreds of new homes and beautified generally with hundreds of trees, countless shrubs and flowers.

When the writer visited Old Hickory back in August 1925 in the interest of starting a newspaper here, how well he remembers the discouragement which accompanied seeing a town on a hot day which was almost entirely without shade.

One of the first projects of the du Pont Company was to plant many saplings throughout the town. Quite a few died but the majority lived and today as a result of the initiative Old Hickory is a well-shaded town.

One item in the Old Hickory News of ten years ago requests young people to refrain from hanging on the young trees in order that they might grow into large shade trees.

Appreciating the importance of having the whole-hearted cooperation of residents in developing a beautiful town here, the Service Department authorized the News in 1927 to publish an announcement stating that $300 in cash prizes would be awarded in a lawn contest. The announcement had the desired effect. Immediately, the townspeople became lawn conscious and began to take the appearance of their premises more seriously. As a result of this whole-hearted cooperation, Old Hickory became an outstanding town, attracting attention near and far.

Needless to say, the neat appearance of the town reflects credit upon its townspeople and besides, there is the personal satisfaction which comes to families living among pleasant surroundings.

For two years now, there has been no lawn contest but the good work continues just the same.

All the streets in the town bear some mark of beautification. Trees grown tall during the span of just a few short years now furnishing shade during the hot summer months. How well we can remember when that row of Poplars which lines the concrete road down to the plant was set out.

Yes, the Old Hickory of today, is a very different and much more beautiful town than the one of yesterday. May its residents be ever mindful of an obligation to keep up the good work started here fifteen years ago.

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"Yard of the Month is still an important part of life in Old Hickory Village of 2002.  Below you will see the winners of a contest held in the 1920s. 

Nashville Industrial Corporation Markets the Village
Recognizing that the best possible housing facilities are necessary to secure the best labor and the best results from that labor, the comfort of the occupants was considered in the planning and building of every home and building in the city. The extremely mild climate enjoyed in this section of the South makes possible frame construction and wall board finishing.

The type of buildings in the city includes bunk houses and quarters for bachelors, lodges and dormitories for women, apartments and dwelling houses ranging from the bungalow type to the three-story, twelve-room residences.

Each home has the necessary sanitary and bath equipment, electric lights, with ornamental fixtures and all modern conveniences. Homes are surrounded by plots of fertile ground, making possible lawns and kitchen gardens. Every home is served with pure filtered water in unlimited quantities.

Hotels, restaurants, stores and business houses common to a modern city are established at Old Hickory. There are recreation centers, playgrounds, tennis courts, and the adjacent Cumberland River offers boating and fishing.

It is interesting to note that in the construction of the city of Old Hickory there were used 65,000,000 board feet of lumber, together with 18,000,000 square feet of wall board and 10,000,000 square feet of building paper. There are in the city 3,867 buildings of various types, 45 miles of water lines, 40 miles of terra cotta pipe, 33 miles of board sidewalks, 23 miles of macadamized and concrete pavements. The fire alarm telegraph system, reaching every part of the village has approximately 50 miles of wire; there are 100 miles of electric power and lighting system lines and 75 miles of telephone lines radiating from a central telephone office equipped with a seven0panel switchboard of 600 telephones capacity. This telephone office is direct connected to the Nashville central telephone office by seven outgoing and seven incoming trunk lines.

Old Hickory is not a temporary village, but a permanent, modern city, which can immediately solve the housing problem of many manufacturers and provide thousands of people with permanent homes and ideal surroundings. In order that the advantages of the city may be more plainly set forth, reproductions of recent photographs are presented for consideration.

Old Hickory - Nashville Industrial Corporation Promotional Book (no date provided)

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Standard frame construction, pine beveled siding, composition roof, interior plastered throughout. Ground floor: Large living-room, dining-room, kitchen, butler's pantry, hall and cloak room. Second floor: Five bedrooms, and two bath-rooms. Third floor: Three bedrooms, bath and trunk room. Concrete basement with store rooms, laundry room, stationary tubs. Ideal Arco steam heating system and water heater. Fire-place in living-room. Garage with servants' quarters.

Standard frame construction, side and roof composition shingles over sheathing. Interior finished in beaver board. Has living-room, kitchen, two bedrooms, clothes closets and bath. Covered porch full width of house.

To see more of the house designs, visit the Old Hickory Chamber of Commerce website. 


Eighty Years of life in Old Hickory
Nashville Scene, June 8 1998
Christine Kreyling

Built By the Book

The feel of Old Hickory may be Mayberry, but the look of the tiny town is definitely Yankee. The architecture is reminiscent of neighborhoods in Pawtucket, R.I., and other northern mill towns. It also suggests working-class districts in Boston and Queens small lots with plain, sensible frame houses with an occasional Dutch gambrel roof or a Colonial Revival detail thrown in for distinction.

The home styles came out of a pattern book DuPont used to construct housing for manufacturing plants in other locations, says Paul Hall. "I've been to DuPont's earlier Hopewell plant in Virginia, and the layout and style of the housing and the plant ther e are just like Old Hickory," he explains.

In the early 1920s, the Nashville Industrial Corporation published the pattern book as marketing for its industrial park. DuPont was the only buyer. Today the villagers identify the houses in Old Hickory not by address, but by the names in the pattern book, "The Davis," "The Baytree," "The Haskell," and "The Ketchum."

In building housing for its powder-plant workers, DuPont followed not only architectural patterns, but patterns of social hierarchy as well. The town's main dividing line was Hadley Avenue. Temporary housing dormitories and "tar babies" covered with a black asphalt compound was constructed west of Hadley. The "colored village" and the "Mexican village" were situated in this area.

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DuPont Engineers Sets Out to Improve Village
DuPont Engineering Study - 1929

When the Old Hickory property was purchased by the du Pont Rayon Company the Village houses which were still standing were generally in very poor condition. This was due to many of them having been vacant for considerable time and also to the fact that the previous owner had done practically no maintenance work.

In the original and subsequent purchase of property 1148 dwellings were included. Just recently 220 additional houses have been finished, making a total of 1368. One hundred more are now in the course of erection. These are for the employees of the Cellophane Company.

It is not the intent of this report to discuss the number of dwellings necessary to house employees properly nor to justify additional houses.

The Plant at Old Hickory makes a fine appearance and it is indeed unfortunate that the village is not more in keeping with it.

These apartments occupy the area bounded by Donelson Avenue, Dodson, Eleventh and Bryan Streets. For the type of employees who live in these buildings this is probably the most desirable part of the village, as it is close to both of the business centers and is the part of the village nearest to the Plant. The latter is an important item as a large percentage of these people are shift workers, which necessitates their going to and returning from the Plant at night.

It is recommended: That sufficient one and two family houses by erected to house all of the 360 families now occupying the Apartment Buildings, provision having already been made for 96 of these. This program should be completed by December 1931.

These new houses should be laid out so there will be a minimum of 20 feet between buildings and so that the yards can be graded, top-soil placed, grass seed sown, and some shrubbery planted at each dwelling.

It is desirable to have these new dwellings in practically the same area or as near to the Plant as practical. As the single or two-family houses will require more area than the present apartments, it will be necessary to build on some of the present vacant areas.

A cursory study of modern village planning indicates that the modern trend is away from regularity of blocks and the substitution of curved streets. This of course improves the appearance of a town and is therefore desirable; but unfortunately such procedure would add considerably to the cost of the proposed improvements in this area due to the fact that sewers and water mains are installed throughout the present apartment and adjacent areas in a gridiron system.

However, it is felt satisfactory results can be obtained by varying the exterior appearances of the new houses, thus doing away with the monotony now evident in parts of the Village and in many other similar developments.

It is recommended that certain alternate numbered streets be abandoned and left vacant to proved additional open spaces. These will also act as fire breaks, which are desirable in a community of frame buildings. The suggestion is that Eighth, Tenth, Twelfth and Fourteenth Streets be closed from Dodson Street west.

There is undoubtedly a certain percentage of village residents who would like to own their own homes with a little land. Such an arrangement would appeal to a family in which there are one or more individuals too old to obtain work at the Plant but who are still active. Under these conditions vegetables could be raised not only to supply the family but also to sell. There are other advantages to the individual and the Company would gain also, particularly in that permanent residents would be accrued without the Company having money invested in real estate.

The Bethlehem Steel Company at Sparrow’s Point originally built and operated a village such as Old Hickory. This is still owned and operated by that Company but no additions have been made for 10 years. It was decided this scheme was wrong and the better way was to encourage the employee to own his own home. To accomplish this a tract of vacant land was purchased and laid out in building lots. These are sold as lots or houses are erected and sold complete. They can be purchased by anyone but are primarily for employees who are liberally financed by the Company.

This venture has been successful and there has been continuous building for nine or ten years. It is doubtful if as large a percentage of Old Hickory residents would be interested as is the case at Sparrow’s Point but some would be.

It is suggested that the Company obtain a tract of land adjacent to the present property in such a location that water and sewer connections can be made to the existing systems; that six or eight houses of the Old Hickory type be built on one acre plots and offered for sale to employees at cost plus carrying charges on liberal terms.

This will start a desirable development and indicate the demand for such type of housing.

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Old Hickory House Inspiration for Habitat for Humanity House Design Winner

Old Hickory Record Spring 1999


Are you familiar with this house?  Ex-Old Hickory resident Ed Binkley sure is! Binkley, an architect, once lived in one of these houses which is better known to long-time DuPont employees as "The Haskell."  It was this house that inspired Binkley to design a home that captured him first place in Residential Architect magazine's "The Ultimate Challenge" contest to benefit Habitat for Humanity.  The national contest called for Binkley, along with 175 architects, to design a Habitat for Humanity 2-story home with only 1,200 square feet.  Once built, the house was given to a single mom with four daughters.

We can't help but wonder if the single mom knows the origination of the house that was built for her.

The Haskell was one of ten distinct houses built by DuPont in 1918 to house the influx of workers at the newly built powder plant.  The houses ranged from very simple one-story homes to ornate three-story Colonial Revival homes built for the managers.  Each house type was given a distinctive name including the Denver, Florence, Ketchum, Haskell, Bay Tree, Arlington, and Davis.  The original description for the Haskell reads as follows, "Standard frame construction, roof and sides covered with composition shingles.  Interior finished in beaver board.  Lower floor has living-room, dining-room, kitchen and pantry.  Second floor has three bedrooms, clothes closets and bath with ventilated attic above second story.  Covered front porch full width of house." 

Of course Binkley's version of the house included updated  elements and its description was more reflective of today's environment than that of the 1920s.

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Home at Last
The queen of hot homes buys a house of her own
Nashville Scene, June 24, 1999
After writing the Hot Homes column for the Scene from 1989-95, this is the column I've always wanted to write. This is the last Hot Homes--the one where I take six years' experience talking about other people's houses and sink it all into one column about waking up to find the American dream coming true in my own life, with help from Mom and Dad, my former landlady/present real estate agent Martha Weesner, and the good-humored grace of God, who has to be laughing right now.

Yep, by the time you read this, little Miss Hot Homes--perennial renter and self-proclaimed expert on other people's houses--will be taking possession of a 1928 DuPont domicile smack-dab in the heart of "beautiful, historic" Old Hickory Village.

I did not mean to. All I meant was to have a plate o' pasta and a Coca-Cola on the candlelit porch of Dan and Amy Mann, who bought their prize of a house in Old Hickory after reading one little Hot Homes column I wrote some time ago.

Let me take you back there. I'd known all about Old Hickory and the DuPont plant for years, of course. Being the nerdy history major that I am, the first thing I did upon arriving in Nashville in 1981 was head over to Zibart's and Mills (the old independent bookstores) and snarf up as many Nashville history books as I could afford--along with some I really couldn't.

Despite being well-read on Old Hickory Village, the 1918 company town for a gunpowder plant built to blow the Kaiser's behind off the map, I had never actually been there till I got the request for a Hot Homes investigation. Right away, I was smitten. Houses on narrow streets, cute as buttons, like something out of New England--which makes sense, since the DuPont people were from Delaware. There were Cape Cods and Dutch Colonials and bungalows, all built quick but sturdy and right. According to my friend Fred, who knows these things, "You could drop an atomic bomb on those houses and you wouldn't hurt 'em."

It was a bomb of the non-atomic sort that got dropped the night I gooped Alfredo sauce on my shirt at Dan and Amy's and met all the neighbors who'd stopped by to chat. "You should live here, Bern," Dan and Amy said. "You'd love it." Then they reminded me that it was because of me they were even in Old Hickory Village--and now Dan's the prez of the nabe association.

Which is why you might have seen me on the big ol' NewsChannel 5 "Talk of the Town" a couple of weeks ago, drippin' sweat and scratchin' a skeeter bite, right there on TV with Joe Case. The Old Hickory Village Neighborhood Association was having their always stunning Home and Garden Tour, and Dan thought I'd look better than him talking on the live remote with Joe. 'Course I would have--had I been able to tell Joe anything I'd actually read in the history books.

Joe: That's great, Bernie, tell us about the Tour....

Bernie: Well, uh, Joe.... [scratch, scratch, sweat, sweat] I think it's, uh, this weekend, probably, and, uh...there's some, like, houses, and yards, and stuff.... Hey, did you know I'm buyin' a house, right here in Old Hickory? Yep, you know I used to write a column for the Nashville Scene--speaking of which, Walter Jowers, who took my place at the Scene? Well, he's inspecting my home right now as we speak. My home ain't on the tour, but it's real cute. Ya wanna come see?

The live remote went great anyway, God bless good Joe Case. Hundreds of thoroughly delighted Nashvillians discovered the Mayberry charm of Old Hickory Village for the first time. But I digress.

Less than 48 hours after that warm-in-every-way evening on the Manns' porch, I was shaking hands with the gracious Tyan and Gary Summers, the Manns' across-the-street neighbors. We talked about how Tyan's going to plant new marigolds for me before she leaves, and how much I'm going to love that barn-red porch swing and that original clawfoot tub, and how much she'll cry when she leaves it all for her new house with her 1.5-acre dream yard.

This is not the way I thought it would happen, this home-ownership thing. As it turns out, it's so much nicer. I am leaving the greatest apartment in Davidson County, or quite possibly the known world, in the prestigious Richland-West End Historic District. Indeed, I think I've been in training to have a house of my own by living here, in the top half of dear Martha Weesner's lovely 1915 home, which has been the best place I have lived in my adult life. Till July 1, that is.

But I've also learned about what it means to have a real home by writing stories about other people's homes. For those six wonderful years, the vision and freedom given me by Bruce, Albie, and all my Scene family made me feel like I had a home there, too.

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