The Maxwell House Hotel, which once stood at the northeast corner of Fourth Avenue, North, and Church Street in downtown Nashville, was for years the center of Nashville’s social and political life. Colonel John Overton Jr. built the hotel named for his wife, Harriet Maxwell Overton. Construction of the Maxwell House, designed by Isaiah Rogers, began in 1859 using slave labor. During the Civil War, the partially finished brick building served as both barracks and prison hospital for the occupying Union army.
After the war Overton resumed construction of what became Nashville’s largest hotel, which local citizens initially called “Overton’s Folly.” Opening in the fall of 1869, the five-story, 240-room hotel cost five hundred thousand dollars. The Maxwell House advertised steam heat, gas-lighting, and a bath on every floor. Rooms were four dollars a day, meals included. The building fronted on Fourth Avenue and the infamous Men’s Quarter; an entrance for women opened onto Church Street. Eight Corinthian columns flanked the main entrance; the elegant main lobby featured mahogany cabinetry, brass fixtures, gilded mirrors, and chandeliers. There were ladies’ and men’s parlors, billiard rooms, barrooms, shaving “saloons,” and a grand staircase to the large ball or dining room.
Go to the Tennessee Encyclopedia of History and Culture to read more about the history of the Maxwell House Hotel
View from the State Capitol looking south shows the Masonic Building, First Presbyterian Church, Maxwell House Hotel, and McKendree Methodist Church. Charlotte Ave. is in foreground and High St. (now 6th) is at right