beginnings of i-65

What does the British Royal family have to do with Brentwood? You see, whether one is a royal watcher or a business executive, the Megan and Kate Effects are clear, both women have changed the fortunes of many fashion design houses and small manufacturers by just wearing their clothes.

That is what I-65 did to Brentwood. It changed the fortune of the area, turning what was essentially a collection of horse farms and a sleepy town that was little more than a bump in the road between Nashville and Franklin into a major residential, business, and retail area.

“Before they built I-65,” said Mike Huff, a local historian and retired community leader, “all the land where Synergy Business Center and the Hill Center are located were both horse farms. The downtown had Huff’s Food Town, the post office, Brentwood Lawnmower Shop, the privately- owned fire and police departments, and not a lot more.”

Changes Came Quickly

According to Huff, two things the building of I-65 did almost immediately was increase property values and it brought the potential for more commercial development, like Maryland Farms.

“It was obvious the highway was going to change the landscape of Brentwood,” added Huff. “Instead of driving from Nashville to Franklin step by step by step on a two-lane road, it opened easier access to Brentwood and Franklin from Nashville.”

One of the first groups of homeowners to see their land rise in value were the descendants of former slaves who had settled along Hardscuffle Road, which is now known as North Church Street. More than fifty families received over $150,000 each for their land, causing most of them to relocate to Nashville where they could buy a good home for $15,000 and a car for $5,000. The funds allow these people to better their lives: many went on to careers in music, the church, and government.

The Face of Brentwood Never the Same

Many major roads in Brentwood changed shape. I-65 cut off Wilson Pike, turning it into Wilson Pike Circle. It used to come out by Brentwood Country Club, and Old Smyrna Road all of a sudden dead-ended at the Interstate, instead of running to Wilson Pike and Edmonson Pike.

The new road also took traffic away from old downtown Brentwood and moved it to Franklin, as there was no Concord Road exit, just the one at Moores Lane.

“I remember they came with huge earthmovers,” said Huff. “The piece of equipment had tires taller than a truck. I used to go down and watch them.”

Subdivisions Rise from the Farmland

While a few subdivisions had already started to root, like Brentwood Estates, Iroquois Estates, and Meadowlake, once I-65 opened in the mid 1960s they began to grow. Low-density housing regulations have made Brentwood a favorite destination for those wanting the feel of country living, with easy access to Nashville.

Fifty Years of Change

They say “change is the only constant,” and that has been true for Brentwood. It was as if I-65 was Brentwood’s own royal princesses, and it brought attention to the shy little town. It has been growing and expanding ever since. The face of the city looks very little like the place it was in 1969, or even 1989, or 2009. And today, it is still changing. Every day something new opens.