The red brick antebellum home on 1,085 acres along the Cumberland River known as Two Rivers Mansion was the crown jewel of the McGavock plantation. It’s believed that the Mansion was designed in the mid-19th century by William Strickland, the designer of the State Capitol, or one of his understudies. Builder John Huff began the construction in 1859 although it wasn’t completed until 1870 due to the Civil War. The home was made from bricks produced by slaves on the property as well as the McGavock children who enjoyed watching and participating in the construction of their new home. The Mansion was one of the first buildings in Nashville to have insulation in the walls. Huff used sawdust to insulate the walls to keep the home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
David McGavock oversaw a large plantation on the grounds with cattle, horses, mules, and hogs. In addition to all the livestock, McGavock also grew grain and corn on the property. Over 50 slaves lived on the plantation and helped McGavock keep everything running smoothly.
Although he had a lot of money, David McGavock had a lot of problems in his life. During the Civil War, Nashville was occupied by the Union. McGavock was jailed for helping Confederate soldiers cross the Cumberland River until he was eventually released after he paid a fine. After this, McGavock fled Nashville for a short time, leaving behind his wife, Willie and young son.
Eventually, David returned to his plantation but was met with a conspiracy charge from the Union. David had refused to take an oath to support the Union and unless he did he wouldn’t be allowed to conduct business in Nashville. McGavock eventually gave in and signed the oath. Later that year, Willie gave birth to a daughter named Bessie. Bessie died at age six, and Willie took it hard. Several years later Willie would have another daughter but she too, also died early, living only eight months.
Portions of the McGavock plantation were gradually sold over the years until 1966 when the last of the McGavock heirs, Louise Bransford McGavock passed away in the mansion. Metro Nashville acquired the remaining land and the Two Rivers Mansion as well as the 1802 House that is also located on the property. Some of the lands were divided up and used for Briley Parkway, McGavock High School, a park and the Two Rivers Golf Course. Today the mansion is a popular place for young couples getting married and is one of the top wedding venues in the area.
A lot of weird things have been known to take place in the Two Rivers Mansion. Lights have been known to flicker off, and footsteps can be heard when no one is in the house. Doors have been known to open and shut on their own. Some visitors report feeling like they are being watched while in the mansion.
Several employees have talked about seeing the ghost of a woman in black in the house and on the property. It’s thought that the apparition is Willie, who is still on the grounds mourning for her children that died so young. Spirits of slaves are said to exist on the property. David McGavock was rumored to be a cruel man and very hard to work for. Slaves that died on the property are thought to be trying to escape from their former master in the afterlife.
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