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Colemere Manor

May 2024

Led by Council Member Russ Bradford and other council members, a new resolution has been filed. In short, this resolution requests the MNAA and the Metro Codes Department to provide written notice of any actions taken to demolish, relocate, or otherwise permanently alter the building. The resolution was on the May 7, 2024 Metro Council Meeting agenda, and it passed with 30 of 32 votes in favor. We will continue to monitor MNAA's next steps with the property and keep PSN supporters updated.

Our Preservation Approach

The Preservation Society of Nashville approaches any endangered resource with reasonability, diplomacy, and collaboration. The Society respects property owners' rights, and values solutions-driven relationships with property owners to help support positive preservation outcomes. 

With Colemere Manor, PSN has:

  • Written a letter of support to Metro Council Members, supporting their resolution to encourage MNAA to preserve the building and continue Monell's tenancy at the building, which passed on March 7th with 32 votes in support and one abstention;

  • Written a letter of support to the Metro Nashville Airport Authority;

  • And continues to stay in touch with the Metro Nashville Historic Commission, Tennessee Historical Commission, and other interested parties, so the Society can be at-the-ready to support any additional preservation measures. 

Project Status

Advocating to Preserve

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The Preservation Society of Nashville has been actively monitoring the status of the building. Here is what we know:

  • Prior to 2021, the Metro Nashville Airport Authority (MNAA) submitted plans to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for runway expansion to accommodate flights to and from Asia. 

  • However, in 2021, the FAA put the plans on hold following further environmental study, according to The Tennessean

  • In August 2023, SimpleFlying.com reported that "an FAA representative described the expansion as a 'dead issue for now,' noting it had not received comment from the airport on its submission justification since 2021; however, airport officials have continued with their plans for the surrounding area." This surrounding area, we believe, includes the Colemere Manor property. 

  • If the expansion project received or is to receive federal funding, MNAA is required to go through the Section 106 review process for any historic resources impacted by the project.

  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 seeks to accommodate historic preservation concerns with the needs of Federal undertakings through consultation among the agency official and other parties with an interest in the effects of the undertaking on historic properties, commencing at the early stages of project planning. The goal of consultation is to identify historic properties potentially affected by the undertaking, assess its effects and seek ways to avoid, minimize or mitigate any adverse effects on historic properties.

  • Pursuant to Section 106, MNAA would have to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), in this case, the Tennessee Historical Commission (THC). Through a collaborative process, THC would determine what mitigation measures should be taken. These could range from as little as documenting the building with as-built architectural drawings and photos to physically moving the historic structure to a new site.

  • THC assessed the building approximately six years ago and determined that it was eligible to be placed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Brief History

Colemere Manor

The manor was originally built in the 1890s. At the time, it was called the ‘Colemare Mansion’ because of its founder Edmund “King” Cole, a Nashville Gilded Age railroad magnate and philanthropist. Cole is famous for becoming the president of the Nashville railway society and was noted to be friends with high-profile names at the time, including the Vanderbilts and Biltmores.

The original mansion, which burned in 1929, was created by Colonel W.C. Smith, the architect who designed Nashville's Parthenon. Smith designed the mansion’s grounds and gardens in line with traditional English gardens at the time. Once built, it soon gained recognition for hosting many notable guests (five U.S. presidents) and hosting lavish events.

Soon after the burning of the original building, Cole's youngest daughter built a new mansion in the Southern Colonial Style, and reportedly modeled after Arlington Mansion in Natchez, MS. The new mansion (currently standing today) was completed in the 1930s and owned by the family for ten years before the City of Nshville acquired the property. 

In the 1940s and 1950s, the City leased the mansion as a private men's club. Politicians and wealthy socialites often brought high-profile guests for dining socializing, and meetings. 

In the 1970s, the mansion became the New Orleans Manor restaurant, specializing in creole cuisine. It became a popular Nashville spot for anniversaries, retirement parties, and corporate functions. New Orleans Manor closed its doors in 2008. 

In 2011, Michael King, who founded the original Monell's restaurant in north Nashville's Germantown, leased the property from the Metro Nashville Airport Authority. Monell's at the Manor opened on Easter Sunday 2011 and has been hosting family-style Southern dining since then. 

In 2023, MNAA notified King that it did not intend to renew Monell's lease, which is slated to end on April 30, 2024. 

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