The Smith House is the only grand townhouse remaining in downtown Nashville. It was built in the late 1840s and is a magnificent example of ante-bellum Italianate architecture. With six bedrooms and bathrooms on three floors, two parlors, a large kitchen, outdoor courtyard, a formal dining room, a breakfast room, a game room featuring Nashville’s first bowling alley, two trap doors, and a grand ballroom for 200 guests… the home is deceptively large.
Three famous Tennesseans - John Overton, George Deaderick and Jacob McGavock- all separately owned the property before the house was built. During the 1840’s the Claiborne family built the house that stands today. Records reveal that Mary Claiborne ran a respectable boarding house for many years naming many of Nashville’s most prominent citizens as residents. During the Civil War Union soldiers occupied the house and used the prominent 2nd floor library for strategic meetings and planning for the battle of Nashville.
In 1881 Julian Sax, a prominent Jewish banker from New York, bought the house as a residence and a few years later leased the home to an affluent social club named “The Standard Club.” The Standard Club flourished and in 1895 built a grand ballroom to host Nashville’s high society for drinks, cigars, and fabulous dances. They installed Nashville’s first bowling alley underneath the ballroom and the ornate tin ceiling is still visible today! The Standard Club was Nashville’s premier private club. It is also notable that the famous fireplace mantle where President Andrew Jackson was “re-married” to Rachel Donelson now resides prominently in the grand ballroom. The Standard Club eventually outgrew the location and evolved into The Old Natchez Country Club in Franklin, where it remains today.