When the Maryland Farms Office Park deal came together in 1970, Brentwood was a year old, and still a sleepy little bedroom community whose citizens wanted to keep it just the same. No offices. No retail.
“The developers got some land zoned commercial in the early 1970s,” said Will Ogilvie, a local realtor and Brentwood historian, “and the citizens erupted. The city reversed their decision, changing it all back to agriculture/residential zoning. Then the lawsuits began. The citizens and the developers spent the next two to three years in court.”
Eventually, a settlement was reached. Fifty acres were zoned commercial for the east office park and another fifty in the middle of the original farm was zoned for a mall, where Publix and the four Dukes buildings are now located.
“Old Nashville road maps from the 1980s showed Maryland Farms Mall on them,” added Ogilvie. “The original plan was to have it be mixed-use: retail, office, and mainly residential. I’m not sure if that was part of Mr. Ward’s plan, or that it just evolved that way.”
All of the land that makes up Maryland Farms was originally part of a 400-acre horse farm owned by Truman Ward. Ward, an entrepreneur at heart, knew that the land was in a perfect place for development being close to I-65. Getting on in years, he saw it as an opportunity to do a little estate planning.
Building number one, which was 30,000 square feet of class-A office space, opened in 1974. The Brentwood Racket and Country Club was opened in 1978. This was followed by Andrew Cadillac, KUSAN Company, and others followed.
Over the years Maryland Farms has been the home of an assortment of events, including Nashville’s Italian Street Fair that was held there for a couple of years, the 4th of July fireworks used to take place there through the 1980s, and in the late 19080s, there was a circus that came through.
“I actually rode an elephant on the property when the circus came through,” said Ogilvie. “And my wife and I got married in the old Ward House, where Mere Bulles is located now.”
Much has changed over the years. Maryland Way was extended from the Racket Club, now the YMCA, to Granny White in 1980. Old Hickory Blvd was widened to four lanes in 1982. Development grew dramatically during the mid 80’s until tax laws changed, which slowed growth down in late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and then it took off again before the end of the century.
The land has come a long way from the nationally known American Saddlebred Horse Farm that it used to be, where Ward presented his prized stud, American Ace.
“I have lots of great memories of the Maryland Farms property,” said Ogilvie, “a real attachment to this place.”