Preserving Nashville history from those who don’t understand its value

I am about to become a zealot. If, as the Tennessean reports today, that “legally, there’s not much Metro or other Tennessee communities can do to protect historic stone walls,” I will be spending a portion of my time and energy over the coming months and years to see if that can be changed. I have privately pondered what tragic or perhaps, inspiring stories these slave-built stone walls must hold as I’ve walked and jogged and biked beside them for the past 25 years. After reading this article, I am going to do the following: 1. Learn what I can about their history. 2. Learn who is best organized to protect and preserve them. 3. Get involved with that group. 4. Set up a wiki (a participatory knowledge-base) so those who are concerned can chronicle, photograph, map and discuss them., 5. Do what I can to change the laws so there are ways to protect historic stone walls.

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  • Barbara

    I’ll be glad to join with you. That story incensed me, too. One slave-built wall was destroyed in my neighborhood to build another subdivision a few years ago.

  • Dry stone walls are a big part of the Lexington area landscape and the Dry Stone Conservancy ( is headquartered here. I’m betting they’re exactly the organization you’re looking for….

  • Rex Hammock

    Thanks Doug (honorary Nashvillian blogger). I look forward to learning about the group.

  • Hudge

    I’m wondering who built the wall directly outside Hammock Pub offices. I was really worried a couple years ago when the intersection was improved – it actually is better, may wonders never cease – that it would be dozed to make room for a couple of turning lanes. It may not be slave built, but it wasn’t put there by any developer in the last 50 years.

    There is a dry stone wall on our property, running some distance along a gravel drive that goes back to a pasture and barn. I often think about the grunt labor that went into building it – slave or paid – and marvel at the fact that such were ever built. Sumner County has a number of such.

    I’ve seen dry laid walls in other places – Belle Meade for one – where a vehicle has gone off the highway and smashed into the wall, toppling a section. If and when it’s rebuilt, odds are some of the hands that do so will be brown, working here illegally, and thus subject to the 21st century version of Dred Scott, in that if caught they will be returned to a kind of quasi-servitude even farther south. After all, they came North illegally and the law is the law. Until it isn’t.