A House By Any Other Name

I recently came across an article about a fascinating Nashville house built in 1821 that’s still a vibrant, functioning part of the city.  This grand old mansion got its name from the many rose bushes that covered the grounds.

Betsy Phillips writes about how Rose Hill has changed over the years and provides us with an in-depth look at its illustrious past, cast of memorable residents and why it’s important to preserve Rose Hill and other useful old structures that contribute so much history to an area’s culture.

Many homes are like Rose Hill. Bigger than life places that demand their very own name.  Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater.  Mary Pickford’s Pickfair.  Washington’s Mount Vernon.  Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion.  Jefferson’s Monticello.  And of course, The White House.

I grew up in a middle class neighborhood in New Jersey and my house didn’t have a special name.  It was home, and that was good enough for me.  But just because we didn’t name our homes in my family doesn’t mean we saw them as just buildings.  They were far more than that.  Life happened under those roofs.  Good, great things, as well as some not so good that are better forgotten or, thankfully, dimming with age.

While our family homes didn’t have names, they were specific in a generic sort of way.  My mother’s side of the family always referred to my grandparents’ house on John Street as The House as in, “We’re having dinner tomorrow at The House.”  Never “Grandmom’s house,” but always, simply “The House.”  Capital T, capital H.  No further description necessary.  I knew where I’d be having dinner tomorrow.

It was the exact opposite a few blocks away at my other grandmother’s house.  I don’t recall my father ever referring to his mother’s house on 2nd Street as “The House.”  It was always “Grandmom’s house” as in, “The porch steps at Grandmom’s house need a new coat of paint.”  Had he called it “The House” I would assume he meant I’d be painting the steps at The House on John Street.

If your family home had a name, what was it?  Who named it and why?  And was it unique to your family, or did the property inherit it from a previous resident?

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