April 11, 2008

Garden Tour in Nashville's 12th South

12th South home-garden tour shows off 'urban hip'
Neighborhood displays architecture from 1920s bungalows to new construction
Davidson A.M. • April 11, 2008

Pam and Mark Miller moved into their home in the 12th South neighborhood about 18 months ago. "We call it urban hip here," Pam Miller said. "We love it. You are close to everything, and there are so many neat places to go. Our home is new, but we built it to look more traditional. It has a great open floor plan."
Stephanie and Adam Romary are going on their fifth year living in their 1925 bungalow in the same neighborhood.
"It's wonderful here," Stephanie Romary said. "The neighbors are great. We walk together and have dinner together."
So, when their homes, as well as seven other homes and two gardens, were selected to be on the fifth annual 12South Neighborhood Tour, they were eager to accept. Produced by the 12South Neighborhood Association, the tour is set for 11 a.m.-5 p.m., April 19.
Tickets are $8 and available for purchase from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Summer Classics parking lot located at 2600 12th Ave. South.
Proceeds from the tour will benefit neighborhood improvements and beautification projects. Since the annual tour started, the neighborhood association has raised enough money to plant cherry trees along the 12th South business district and install a new marker designating the 12South area in the traffic island on the north side of the district.
Tarek El Gammal, president of the neighborhood association, said last year the tour sold about 350 tickets. He is hoping for at least that many this year.
"The tickets are actually the tour guides," El Gammal said. "Each ticket holder gets a package with a write-up of each house. There is also a map and a suggested route to take. Of course, you can come and go as you want."
El Gammal said the association defines the 12South area as running from Wedgewood Avenue on the north side to about Kirkwood Avenue to the south. It goes about one-half of a block west from 12th Avenue to a couple of blocks east.
"Metro planning has the east boundary at 10th Avenue, but we also include Vaulx," El Gammal said. "Those boundaries are a little loose."
Walkability, heritage part of charm
Miller and her husband had lived in Williamson County before moving into the area. Mark Miller, Milmar Properties, is a contractor.
"He has built over 60 homes in the 12South, Belmont, Vanderbilt and Green Hills areas," she said. "We just felt it was time we moved into the area, too."
So, while their home will represent a more contemporary style, the Romary home on Montrose Avenue will represent the architectural heritage in the area.
"We have scraped and painted," Romary said. "There were five or six layers of paint and wallpaper on these walls. We have done the ceilings. But, we kept all our original built-ins."
El Gammal's traditional bungalow was on the tour last year. He and his family have only lived in Nashville a little over a year, after moving here from Chicago.
"This was the closest thing we found to what we were used to in Chicago," he said. "The walkability really caught our eyes. We loved the architecture in the area and all the nearby businesses."
From front porches to new business
The 12South neighborhood has undergone significant changes over the past five years or so. The easy access to downtown and other Nashville areas, combined with the affordability of the homes increased its attractiveness. Then, as new residents started to come into the area, new businesses also came.
"You can see the changes through the tour," El Gammal said. "The residents and businesses have fed off of each other. We expect the business district to be quite lively during the tour as well."
Ken Winter, a 12South Neighborhood Association board member, said the association worked hard in selecting the homes and gardens on the tour.
"We worked hard to represent not only the multiplicity of housing here, but also each residence's relation to the cultural and architectural heritage of the neighborhood," said Winter, an eight-year resident in the area.
The selection of homes, he said, also "exudes the front-porch neighborliness we treasure."

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