From Our House to Yours: Hazel Path Mansion

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By: Catherine Royka

“I have always loved this property,” says current owner of Historic Hazel Path Mansion, Wayne Holloway. “Always! I had prom pictures taken in front of the building years ago. I am very interested in history, especially that of Sumner County and Hendersonville where I was born and raised.”

Wayne enjoys rehabbing old historic properties and takes great pride in restoring them to the luster they once had. Hazel Path Mansion is a vital and prominent part of the Hendersonville culture, and he is excited to share this piece of history.

“There are kids playing in the side yard now, throwing ball. This place will even be here when these kids grow up. . . remembering – just like me! And I’m proud to be responsible for making sure it’s here for them to see twenty to thirty years from now,” he says.

With Wayne’s love of history, Sumner County and historic properties, it is no surprise he enjoys learning the history of a house during his renovations of a property. It inspires him even more to restore it to its original condition. Thankfully, owners since the mid-1850s have taken great care in keeping this important piece of history alive. If you don’t know much about the historical timeline of this home, you are in for a treat. Let’s rewind to the 1850s.

The Significant Home

In 1857, Daniel Smith Donelson built Hazel Path Mansion. A beautiful brick home with nine rooms, fireplaces, crystal chandeliers imported from Paris along with adjacent buildings for the kitchen, well, smoke house, ice house and slave quarters. For one thing, builders must have been in the Donelson family. Daniel Smith Donelson was the grandson of Daniel Smith, who built Historic Rock Castle, located in Hendersonville, and was one of the first settlers in the area and a nephew to President Andrew Jackson.

Daniel Smith Donelson was a graduate of West Point and eventually moved his way up in the Confederate Army and attained the rank of Major General. Sadly, General Donelson passed away during the Civil War and his beloved home was confiscated and occupied by the Union Army for a period of time. Following the war, Margaret Branch Donelson returned to the home, and found the farm occupied. When President Andrew Johnson learned that Margaret was the daughter to Governor Branch of North Carolina, he ordered the troops to vacate Hazel Path and the home was returned to the Donelson family.

Following Margaret’s death, the home and 254 acres of property were sold to Judge John Kincaide while Daniel’s estate was being settled. The property was then passed down to his daughter, Mary Anne Weisiger, for her family to reside. Fortunately, Rock Castle had remained in the family as it was owned by Harry Smith, a grandson of General Daniel Smith and cousin to Daniel Smith Donelson. Soon after, Harry purchased Hazel Path from the Weisigers along with 121 acres.

Nannie Smith Berry, daughter to Daniel Smith, obtained Rock Castle and Hazel Path. When Nannie and her husband Horatio moved to Hazel Path from Rock Castle, they acquired 3,800 acres of land and created a larger farm. The farm thrived and operations were on a much larger scale than many other farmers or farms at the time. There was a time when Horatio and Nannie owned Hazel Path Mansion, Rock Castle, Tulip Grove Mansion and the Bradford-Berry House.

All the Berry children resided in the home, and following their deaths, Hazel Path and the surrounding property was sold for commercial development. Thankfully, this piece of Tennessee history was not lost. It was restored to its original condition in the 1980s by Harvey and Linda Gardner. In 1992, Louis Oliver and James Fuqua purchased Hazel Path and now Wayne Holloway is the home’s current owner.

Unique Features

Wayne is working to restore the home to its original state, while also sharing the history with locals and visitors alike. He is finding a little piece of history each day that is unique. Inside the home, Wayne says the staircase is his favorite part of the property. “The history of this staircase is amazing. The staircase was built in the 1890s by the Pullman Company who made stage coaches and carriages. It really is impressive. The detail, the history. . .  It cannot be replicated.”

Wayne has expanded on the renovations done by the previous owners. He has happily put lots of effort and time into meaningful renovations, all while making it his home. He has installed gold leaf ceilings, period correct wallpaper, has salvaged the floors, refinished the doors, rebuilt the front of the property. . . and it hasn’t stopped there. He gave the back of the home a whole new facelift with new windows, siding and gutters, and is currently in the process of painting. His next step in the renovation process is to restore the porch on the side of the building.

“I have kept the historical society up to date so as not to lose the historical standing of the property. I will continue minor repairs for the next twelve months, making the place as new as I can while keeping the history,” explains Wayne. “I want people to walk into Hazel Path and be taken back in time. It’s a work in progress and I’m very close!”

Future Plans

Wayne is currently tracking down artifacts and is in the process of restoring the old elevator that was once in the house. Also on his list, is a plan to furnish the non-office space areas in the lobby and out back, with furniture and items that are close to the period in which the house was built.

Once his list of renovations is fully complete, Wayne’s goal is to be able to host outdoor weddings and events. “My plan is to build a pavilion to the left of the house and use the front lawn for the ceremonies. I have an old car collection and plan to allow couples, who get married here, to use a 1956 fully restored BelAir in their pictures and events. By then, I will also have a fully furnished apartment above a retail space on the Gallatin Square that they will be able to stay in for their wedding night! Weddings here will certainly be ‘throwback’ weddings. . . in the heart of sprawling Hendersonville. We are super excited about doing this. My fiancé will be helping me and is as passionate about the property and the future weddings as I am,” he says.

“This is a special piece of property and history. While the world seems focused on growth and modernization, I am focused on ‘stepping back in time.’ There aren’t many event centers around like this one that will offer a package deal like we will. Imagine being married at a 150-year-old mansion, being whisked away in a sixty-year-old BelAir and spending your wedding night on the old Gallatin Square! I just don’t know of anywhere else that offers that and we are thrilled to share this place with locals and tourists,” he adds.

For additional information about the history of this beautiful property, visit hazelpathmansion.com.

Hazel Path Mansion
105 Hazel Path | Hendersonville, TN 37075
615.481.9849 | hazelpathmansion.com

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