Historic Nashville Home Fire Damaged

NASHVILLE, Tenn. --

A historic home in the Belmont area of Nashville was severely damaged by fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Built in the early 1900s, the home's attic and third floor were a total loss. The rest of the home suffered water damage.

Firefighters told Channel 4 News the fire was difficult to fight inside the house because of the narrow hallways. They began pouring massive amounts of water on the roof of the home before they finally got it under control.

The Nashville Fire Department said Wednesday it believes the fire started outside in the side rear of the house near some shrubbery.

The million-dollar house is about 10,000 square feet.

It was an iconic house, one of the first built in the historic Linden area of west Nashville. Some neighbors began fighting the fire on their own before firefighters arrived.

"We were standing out there with garden hoses, trying to water the thing down," said one neighbor.

Other neighbors ran inside the home to remove priceless antiques and furniture.

The Linden Avenue home has a storied past. It was owned for years by high-powered Sony Music executive and Music Row icon Donna Hilley.

Debbie Mitchell-Tenpenny, Hilley's daughter, said the family moved there in 1978 and stayed about 30 years. In that time, she said, country music stars and even presidents posed for photos in the front foyer of the grand staircase.

The house had been a nursing home just before Mitchell-Tenpenny and her family moved in. Previous owners included Leland Hume, president of Nashville's first telephone company.

Mitchell-Tenpenny's sons had football parties on the lawn. Her parents held moonlight charity events beneath a grand chandelier and near the stained-glassed window of the first landing of the staircase.

Last fall, the mansion was part of the area's historic tour of homes.

The new owners hope to repair what the fire damaged.

Nashville Fire Department District Chief Charles Shannon said the home's age contributed to the fire spreading because of the amount of wood in the house.

"It had a jump on us, but the personnel initially when they arrived, they discovered there were someone people in the house they had to get out," said Shannon. "We had to remove everybody, including the personnel, from inside the house."

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