William Edmondson Homesite Trees #35

1434 14TH AVE S. NASHVILLE, TN 37212

Common Name: Shumard Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus Shumardii

William Edmondson

William Edmondson, born about 1874 of former slave parents in the Hillsboro area of Davidson County, worked as a railroad and hospital laborer until 1931, when he began his sculpting career with limestone carvings. Working in his Edgehill community backyard and without any formal training, he produced remarkable sculptures, which won high praise in exhibits across the nation, and he was the first African American to be awarded a solo show in New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 1937. An exhibition in Paris quickly followed. The back-to-back high profile shows cemented his status as one of America’s most important “outside” artists.

His renowned works of art are now held in major museums throughout America. He lived in his humble home on 14th Ave. South in Nashville, TN, where he sculptured his works of art until his death in 1951. His home and most of the smaller homes in his neighborhood were removed in later years by urban renewal, although there is a recently commissioned park on Charlotte Avenue between 16th and 17th avenues dedicated to William Edmondson, where several pieces of sculpture celebrate his legacy.

The only remaining original features of his homesite are the two 100-year-old Shumard Oak trees that previously flanked his home in his front yard. The trees are 65 feet tall, 10 feet in circumference and have a crown spread of 35 feet. The Edgehill community is undergoing an effort to preserve what is left of his historical homesite, along with the trees. The property is now owned by Metro Nashville Public Schools.

Historic Trees, 2019 Nominated by Tyson Heller. Trees picture by Tyson Heller.
Portrait picture by Louis-Dahl-Wolfe

William Edmondson Homesite Park