History Of The Wind In The Willows Mansion
The Wind in the Willows Mansion at 2205 State Street was built in 1906 by Mr. and Mrs. Alex J. Porter. Mr. and Mrs. Porter had five children, two boys and two girls who survived, and one daughter who died in her childhood. This neighborhood was one of the first subdivisions along the West End trolley car corridor in the Catholic neighborhood by St. Thomas Hospital, Father Ryan High School, and the Cathedral Church.
The building had a legal connection from the onset with the Porters’ grandfather, Frank Pugh Bond, living in the upstairs bedroom. One of Mr. Bond’s cases involved defending the Motlow Brothers with Clarence Darrow; and his son, Roscoe Bond, also was an attorney in Nashville.
As you enter the house and view the original staircase, to the right was the original parlor, and the room behind it which is now the conference room was the family music room. To the left of the entrance was the original dining room and kitchen. The house was built with indoor plumbing, but the bathrooms were only on the second and third floors. Unfortunately, the Porter family, after building this home and living in it from 1906 to 1930, lost it during the Great Depression. The Porter family had been in the agricultural feed mill business.
During the Depression, the house was vacant for periods and then was purchased and owned by S. H. Cooper and his wife from 1944 to 1953. Mr. Cooper owned a restaurant on Elliston Place. He rented the house to boarders during World War II and was known in the neighborhood as a generous soul who did not turn away hungry people. The restaurant lasted into the Fifties but eventually closed. In the 1950’s the neighborhood began to decline as people moved to more suburban areas. The hospitals in the area had not yet expanded, so the house again changed hands, becoming a nursing home in the 1960’s.
In 1971, the house was purchased by Michael Murphy and was converted to The Wind in the Willows nightclub. The band would be located in the parlor room, and jazz and country music groups were featured, including Hubie Davis and the Season Travellers, and Riders in the Sky. Light food was available. Unfortunately, The Wind in the Willows was never very profitable. The house was bought by Bill Freeman and Jimmy Webb and operated as the Freeman-Webb Mortgage Company from 1978 to 1986. Then, Freeman-Webb sold the property back to Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, who held the title for several years. During that interim time, Nashville Mayor Phil Bredeson ran his unsuccessful campaign for Governor from the building.
In 1993, Phil Walden, the owner of Capricorn Records, purchased the building and completed an interior renovation, using the building as the corporate headquarters. Helen Rogers and Larry Kamm purchased the building September 26, 1997, and have occupied it since then. They have contributed additional exterior restoration.
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