Photo Essay: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN GENERATIONAL HOMES STILL STANDING IN SOUTH NASHVILLE 

Calvin's South Nashville home

photography: Daniel Christopher

South Nashville (aka 12 South, Wedgewood Houston, Melrose, and the other little nomenclature recently popping up) looks a lot different than it used to back in the day. Back in the day, it was the embodiment of community in every sense of the word. Brothers and sisters living right next door to each other and friends who were truly like family. We wanted to explore some of the families still living in this now destination area for tourists and newcomers, shopping and murals.

The South Nashville community has received the brunt of the gentrification trends in the city, pushing residential natives and elders out of the area. Making it nearly impossible for them to move back in. However, there are many families that are holding on to their land and generational legacy within the community. For them, it means much more to continue passing down land and memories instead of receiving that infamous lump sum check. We sat down with several residents who have roots in the community that goes back for generations. I hope the memories shared will resonate with you and your own family and their graceful persistence to stay within the community that made them will inspire you.

The Hatcher Home (12 South)

“There isn’t just one memory that I can explain to you because I have so many of them”, Calvin Hatcher shares as we chat in his 12 South home encompassed by new construction homes. Calvin continues, “I have fond memories of going to school here when my school was a junior high school and now it’s an elementary school. I have memories of playing baseball in the field when it used to stretch out further. I have memories of my mom’s people playing cards on the porch”.

This community was full of love.

Everybody looked out for one another. If I had it, or my neighborhood had it, or if my mom needed it, or whoever, everyone was willing to help. Such fond memories here.

 

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The Rutland Home (12 South)

Joyce Rutland Majors has so many memories of her South Nashville community. As shares, “back when I was growing up, things were a lot more peaceful than they are today. The children could play hopscotch or jump rope outside.

Everybody got along. You weren’t afraid to play outside. You knew your neighbors.

We shared things with each other. It was just a friendly community. You had good neighbors. Not to say you don’t have good neighbors now, but things were different back then. Joyce is in the middle of her own renovation projects as she continues to love on her land and her community.

 

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The Sutton Home (Wedgewood-Houston)

John Compton (not pictured) and his step-father Edward Sutton, Jr.(pictured) has South Nashville running through their veins. When we chatted with John, so many of his favorite memories ran back in his mind. Our family home was first located on Ferguson in the Belmont area. As he shares “I remember the walks we would take when we were small. We used to have to walk down to Hawkins St. to church (New Hope Missionary Baptist Church) every Sunday. My cousins, neighbors, and I would have so much fun on those walks. We would later move to the home off Wedgewood after my Uncle left the house to my Mom, the late Mrs. Georgia Ellen Sutton and her husband Edward Sutton, Jr.(pictured in the photos).

My cousins and neighbors and I would have so much fun on those walks.

We didn’t have to worry about being run over or anything and nobody bothered us. It seemed like everybody knew everybody in the neighborhood. We could all get along and there was no such thing as us fighting each other. We all really got so used to being there, and I really didn’t want to move to any other part of town. Of course, we moved when we had to, but South Nashville has always been my favorite place to live. It was just home to us.

It was just home to us.

 

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