Unique Brentwood home’s architect had Rutherford roots

Elaina Sauber, Nashville Tennessean, July 26, 2018

Neighbors on Williamsburg Road in the 1960s, in what would later become part of Brentwood, used to joke that Burney Tucker was building the pyramids.

It took nearly four years to complete the mid-century modern home at 5204 Williamsburg Road, which boasts unbalanced angles, a flat roof and heavy use of reinforced concrete.

For the first time in 25 years, the home is for sale.

Phil and Angie Kenzie knew they’d found something special when they purchased the house in 1993.  As it turns out, the house was the conclusion of Tucker’s years long experiment.  Tucker, a Rutherford County native, went on to become a well-known Nashville architect who designed dozens of commercial structures in Middle Tennessee between the 1960s and 1980s, including the Murfreesboro Fire Department building.  He also led the restoration of the Rutherford County Courthouse.

Part of the reason his own home took so long to finish is because it’s built almost entirely from concrete — as if it were a commercial building.

The 4,400-square-foot house is virtually indestructible.  Its listing price is $899,900.

“He got a lot of teasing from the neighbors and my mother because he built it with such a functional approach and long-term attitude, but the house was his experiment,” said Tucker’s son, Greg, who lives in Rutherford County.  “He wanted to try these things that he didn’t have an opportunity to do for his clients in this area.”

A commercial approach

Most commercial buildings are constructed to support the weight of hundreds or thousands of people at any given time.  Residential dwellings are generally not built to such standards.

But Tucker, who primarily designed commercial structures, wanted to build a home that would last.

He’d developed a relationship with a local company that sold pre-stressed concrete, which is compressed as it sets to allow for long, flexible concrete beams.  Pre-stressed concrete is typically used for things such as parking garages, gymnasiums and shopping malls.

Tucker set out to build the first pre-stressed concrete house in Tennessee, his son said.  By the time it was finished, the roof would be supported by a span of exposed concrete beams stretching the length of the ceiling.

Today, those exposed beams are featured in the home’s living room, den and master bedroom.

What you won’t find much of in the house is drywall.  At the heart of nearly every wall is concrete, covered in plaster.

“A dying art at the time was plastering.  I don’t know if anybody had attempted to plaster over concrete,” Greg Tucker said.  “It gives you a wall that is solid all the way through.”

Tucker didn’t like the look of electrical wires hanging off the house, so he had all the wiring installed underground.

The home’s interior also contains painstaking detail.  Every window sill in the house is made from white marble. The floors in the bathrooms are all heated.  Tucker had an electrostatic air filtering system installed to help alleviate his wife’s allergies.

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