History

Glen Leven Farm is a 65-acre working farm established through a Revolutionary War land grant to Thomas Thompson (1759-1837) and bequeathed in 2006 to the Land Trust for Tennessee by Susan McConnell West (1939-2006), the sixth generation of the family to own the land. As one of the original settlers of Nashville, Thompson registered the 640-acre grant in 1790 and built a blockhouse near present-day 715 Thompson Lane. His son John Thompson (1793-1876) expanded the plantation to approximately 950 acres and in 1857 built the Federal-style house with Greek Revival details still standing today.

Before the Civil War Battle of Nashville (December 15-16, 1864), Glen Leven served as the headquarters of Lt. Gen. Stephen D. Lee. During the battle, the farm stood between the Confederate and Union lines and served as a field hospital. The farm is considered by Civil War historians to be the largest piece of Nashville’s battlefield still intact. (continued below)

HISTORICAL IMAGE GALLERY:

At John Thompson’s death, the property was divided between his two sons. The elder son, John M. Thompson (1852-1919), a farmer, state senator, commissioner of agriculture and breeder of shorthorn cattle and horses, inherited the western portion of the property and the house, which look much as they did during his lifetime.

Throughout the 19th century, the family cultivated crops typical of the region: wheat, cotton, tobacco, and a variety of vegetables and fruit, including potatoes, tomatoes, kale, apples, and strawberries. Cattle, hogs, sheep, chickens, and horses were also raised at Glen Leven.

At John M. Thompson’s death, the farm was divided between his five adult children; three of them lived successively at Glen Leven until 1968. From 1969-1971, the house passed briefly out of the family and was owned by Nashville record producer Shelby Singleton (1931-2009). In 1971, Susan West, the great-great-great-granddaughter of Thomas Thompson, bought back the house and five acres surrounding it, which adjoined land inherited by her mother. Susan West gave Glen Leven Farm to The Land Trust for Tennessee through her will, because she wanted the land to be protected forever.

The historical and cultural landscape of Glen Leven Farm truly embodies The Land Trust for Tennessee’s mission to preserve the unique character of Tennessee’s natural and historic landscapes and sites for future generations.

Learn more about GLEN LEVEN AND THE CIVIL WAR by viewing our latest exhibit on display, “Between The Battle Lines,” sponsored by the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area and the Civil War Trust. Schedule a tour.

Email us to get a copy of The Historic Structure Report and Archaeological Reconnaissance (MTSU’s detailed History + Historic Structures Report).