Murfreesboro home on Main Street marries history with modern life

Nancy De Gennaro, The Daily News Journal, October 13, 2017

The Leiper-Clayton-Dill home at 446 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, TN

A year after moving into their renovated home in downtown Murfreesboro, Blake and Priscilla Smith will open the doors for “An Evening on Main.”

Set for 5-7 p.m. at 446 E. Main St., the fundraiser benefits Main Street Murfreesboro, a nonprofit that promotes the vibrancy of downtown Murfreesboro.

“We both like the historical aspect. When we were looking for where we wanted to move, we knew we wanted to be in a historical home. And we love downtown Murfreesboro,” said Priscilla Smith.

The Smiths purchased the home from Judy and the late James Cantrell, who renovated the home in the 1990s.

The Leiper-Clayton-Dill home was built in 1869 for James A. Leiper, a Murfreesboro attorney, and his wife, Alice Kimbro Leiper. Capt. James H. Clayton Sr. and his wife, Hadassah, purchased the home in 1881.

The Claytons’ son, James Clayton Jr., inherited the home and it remained in the Clayton family until 1968, when it was purchased by Dr. Madison Dill and his wife, Charlotte.

By the late 1800s, modern plumbing was installed and an indoor kitchen were added. What was once the detached kitchen, common to prevent fires, now serves as a garage and outbuilding. In the 1990s the owners made some other structural changes and even added an elevator.

Aesthetics to the Reconstruction-era home changed, too. Victorian touches were added to the interior and exterior of the Reconstruction-era home. Later the Victorian elements gave way to Neoclassical details that include the ionic columns of the one-story porch.

Over the past year, the Smiths have made their own design changes to suit their family’s lifestyle, Priscilla Smith said.

Blake Smith, who runs a construction business, adjusted the floor plan upstairs to reconfigure the living space to accommodate the four children in the home. The kitchen was also readjusted to add more storage space, a larger island, modern appliances and crisp, white tile.

Dark wall colors were replace with neutral colors that reflects the enormous amount of natural light that flows through the home.

“We like a lot of light. That’s our style,” Smith said.

Blending household furnishings was another challenge. There are some modern pieces they kept, blended with early American antiques the couple purchased together or brought with them.

Notable pieces include a rustic farm table in the dining room and an heirloom tool chest that belonged to Blake’s grandfather. The trunk is flipped open to display antique tools underneath a glass top that transforms the piece into a coffee table.

Main Street Murfreesboro Executive Director Kathleen Herzog said she knows patrons who peruse the house Tuesday evening will be delighted with the Smiths’ handiwork.

“I can’t even tell you how much I love this house. I think it’s because the integrity of the house was maintained and they’ve honored the historical architectural aspects of it. But they were able to give it a modern, family vibe and it’s very welcoming,” Herzog said.

Refreshments will be served and donations will be accepted at the door. Proceeds from the fundraiser go to produce all the beloved events such as JazzFest, summer concerts on the Public Square, Halloween on the Square and Christmas tree lighting festivities, as well as continue to promote the commerce and culture of downtown.

Reach reporter Nancy DeGennaro at 615-278-5148 or degennaro@dnj.com

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