History of Maryland Manor
In 1937, J. Truman Ward, then the owner of Nashville’s WLAC radio, bought 100 acres of Stump land on a one-lane gravel road in Brentwood about 300 yards south of Old Hickory Boulevard. He had loved horses all his life and wanted to have a place to keep a couple of pleasure horses for himself, his wife Mary, and son Jimmy. He named the farm Maryland in honor of his wife. By 1945 he had purchased additional land so that Maryland Farm grew to 400 acres. The farm was home to “American Ace,” the leading sire of the American Saddle horse breed, making it nationally known.
Ward’s love of horses manifested itself in this showplace for fine horses. Truman began the horse venture by building a twenty-stall stable measuring 44 by 155 feet with an interior of wormy chestnut with knotty pine ceilings. The twenty-by-twenty-foot stalls were finished in oak. Both American saddle horses and Tennessee walking horses were stabled there for training. Other barns and pastures enclosed within the farm’s five-mile white fence were home to 50 brood mares. In 1958, a three-eighths mile covered training track was moved from the Tennessee State fairgrounds to Maryland Farms. There was also a five-eighths mile open track. During its prime, there were over 100 horses in training at Maryland Farms.
The Wards’ love for the farm grew, and so they planned a permanent move with construction beginning in July, 1941. Anticipating a shortage of building materials with the war in Europe, lumber, nails, metal roofing, wiring, appliances and plumbing fixtures were stored in barns on the farm before ground was broken. The brick came from a house that had been torn down in Nashville, giving an authentic Old South look to Maryland Manor. The 7,500 square foot home was completed in May, 1942.
The living room was to the left of the entrance hall. Beyond it was a study and screened porch, which were combined in the early ‘50s to form the present room with the bay window. The dining room to the rear of the entrance hall could seat 20 people. Part of the lounge area was son Jimmy’s bedroom and bath. The master bedroom and bath were at the west end of the main floor. The large window-walled room was added to the house in 1947 as a screened porch and was glassed-in as an informal entertainment area in 1952.
There were three guest bedrooms upstairs. The largest, with a fireplace, was known as Andy and Dorothy’s Room. Through Truman Ward’s connections in the entertainment industry, the family became fast friends with Dorothy and Andy Devine, stars of television and movies. Because of their frequent visits, the room came to bear their name. The middle bedroom was Martha’s Room, in honor of Mary Ward’s niece who spent many summers at the farm. The west upstairs bedroom was Bob’s Room, named after Robert Warren Smith, manager of Maryland Farms from 1948-1954.
The Wards enjoyed entertaining and Maryland Manor was the scene of many festive occasions and several weddings. This tradition is continued today with so many special occasions at Mere Bulles.