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the inn

THE HISTORY OF GERMANTOWN INN

The germantown inn sits on property first owned by the McGavock family, one of the “first” families of Nashville. David McGavock, son of James McGavock, Sr. of Virginia, came to Nashville in 1786 and surveyed and purchased for his father and himself two thousand two hundred and forty acres of land situated on both sides of the Cumberland River north of the bluff. A large portion of the city later to be known as North Nashville stands on one of their tracts. The germantown inn property is part of that tract.

According to information found at the Davidson County Register of Deeds, the property on which the germantown inn sits changed hands numerous times between the date that David McGavock, Jr. sold it (sometime after his father’s death in 1835) and when Bernard Henry Wallman bought it in 1865 for $750.

Bernard Henry (B. H.) Wallman had come to the United States from Hanover, Germany in 1844. According to the U. S. Census of 1850, he was living in the North Nashville/Germantown area where he would remain the rest of his life. The property he had purchased in 1865 was “in good company” -- just a block and half from the beautiful home of his employer John G. Buddeke, one of Nashville’s first and most prosperous German immigrants.

There is no evidence that Bernard Wallman lived on his property between his purchase of it in 1865 and when he sold it in May of 1876 to his younger brother Herman Henry Wallman for the sum of $3,000.

Exactly when the home on this property (now germantown inn) was built is uncertain. Several sources have dated it as pre-Civil War. J. Pinkney Lawrence, Jr., historian and grandson of Herman Henry Wallman, believed the house to be built in 1844. Architectural Historian, David
Paine,  in describing buildings of interest in Germantown, stated of the house, “This simple two-story brick vernacular style house dates from before 1860.”

However, the first evidence of someone living at this property was found in the 1868 Nashville City Directory: “H. H. Wallman, Shoemaker, living at 327 N. High Street” – this address now known as 1218 6th Avenue North.

The new owner of the property, Herman Henry Wallman, was born 1827/1828 in Hanover, Germany. According to the 1900 U.S. Census, Mr. Wallman arrived in the United States in 1849 and became a naturalized citizen in 1851. He married another German immigrant, Frances Katherine Werner. Before coming to Nashville, the Wallmans lived in Ohio (their first child John Benjamin being born there about 1856) and in Indiana (the next three children, Mary Katherine-John Henry-Henry Herman, born there between 1858 and 1864). By 1867 the Herman Henry Wallman family was residing in Nashville as evidenced by their fifth and last child Katherine’s Tennessee birth that year and by record on file of her baptism that year in the Church of the Assumption (1 1⁄2 blocks from germantown inn; across the street from the Buddeke home). Mr. Wallman was a shoe/boot maker with his business located downtown at 77 Church Street in the vicinity of the old Maxwell House Hotel. As did many other Germantown residents with employment/businesses downtown, Wallman probably walked or rode the neighborhood horse-drawn trolleys/street cars to his work. In 1889 Herman’s older brother Bernard, who had been living with Herman and family for at least ten years, passed away; and in 1890, wife Frances Katherine died. Both are buried in Nashville’s Mt. Olivet Cemetery alongside the rest of the Wallman family. After the death of his wife, Herman H. Wallman remained in the family home with his
children.

His daughter Mary kept house, sons Henry, Jr. and Benjamin continued the shoemaking business, son John was Captain of the Fire Co. No. 1, and youngest child Katherine married Joseph Pinkney Lawrence, had three sons, and remained in Nashville. Herman Henry Wallman, patriarch of the family, died in 1905.

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