by Michael Brewer
Its streets and eclectic mix of homes have survived fires, floods and tornadoes with dignity, grace and charm. From its close-knit neighbors to its famous former residents, Inglewood is now emerging as a hot spot for Nashville’s GLBT up-and-comers. In search of convenience, affordability and homes with a history, they’re quietly moving in and putting a modern mark on Inglewood’s storied past.
There are about 15,000 homes and residential lots in Inglewood, according to the latest local census. Bound by the Cumberland River to the east and the Gallatin Road – Briley Parkway interchange to the West (considered Inglewood’s official entrance), if you look at the Inglewood on a map, its boundaries look eerily like those of Davidson County itself.
Inglewood resident Gary Baugher says the rise of Inglewood GLBT residents is a trend that’s in tune with the rest of Nashville’s real estate boom. But while developers around town continue to tear down and build brand new homes made to look old, this East Nashville community is one of the last places where there’s an opportunity to improve upon the past without mortgaging your life away.
“Inglewood homes are affordable and they have great bones,” says Baugher. “Some of them just need work. The (GLBT) community tends to want to fix things. It’s in our nature. Although downtown living is becoming a huge part of the future of the city, Inglewood is one of the few places where you can buy a home and build equity at an affordable price.”
Baugher is a two-timing East Nashvillian. Six years after buying and completely renovating a 1930’s Bungalow in nearby Lockland Springs, he decided to sell and head to Green Hills. But soon after moving away, Baugher quickly realized that the suburban apartment life wasn’t for him. Six months later, he bought another fixer-upper; this time in Inglewood. The neighborhood had him hooked.
“I missed having my own home and a yard,” says Baugher. “When I decided to move back to East Nashville, I decided on Inglewood because it’s very comfortable, very safe and the neighbors are not quite as ‘cliquey’ as in other areas in East Nashville. Plus, the homes are a little farther apart.”
Inglewood’s appeal isn’t missed on Rick Harris. As director of facilities and operations for Country Music Television (CMT), Harris takes up residence in the onetime Nashville mayor Beverly Briley’s former digs, located on Inglewood’s edge.
“This area is full of handsome, charming older homes in a centrally-located area of town,” says Harris. “It’s also an area with a lot of acceptance in grocery stores, pharmacies and restaurants. It’s nothing here to see two men shopping together.”
Not unlike Mayor Briley’s public contributions to Nashville, Harris is giving something back to the neighborhood he loves. In addition to erecting a period slave wall to encompass his property, Inglewood residents were recently given a piece of Harris’ land he personally designed as a public park for them to enjoy.
“It’s a special place and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to preserve some of Nashville’s history,” said Harris. I just enjoy giving back to the neighborhood and paying respect to the people who lived here before me.”
Aside from Harris and his neighbors, Inglewood residents also benefit from a strong community association. The Inglewood Neighborhood Association, Inc. was formed in 1996, and was originally formed to preserve Inglewood when a developer attempted to fill the former Riverwood Riding Academy with smaller, out-of-period homes. The RNA has spent the last near decade sponsoring various events and services that have helped keep Inglewood a clean, safe and pleasant place to live. Having the close-knit, neighborhood advocacy of the Association and fellow neighbors is something resident Joe Woods appreciates.
“The rise in prices in other areas of town has contributed to Inglewood’s appeal,” says Woods. “Developers are catching on to this, but in spite of the Nashville loft invasion, Inglewood has been able to maintain its charm.