Early History of The Cloister at St Henry

Why did I name this blog “Cloisterliving”? Mainly because I have been living in a Condo located in a property called “The Cloister at St. Henry“. My favorite reference Wikipedia tells me that the attachment of a cloister to a cathedral or church, commonly against a warm southern flank forms a continuous and solid architectural barrier… that effectively separates the world of the monks from that of the serfs and workmen, whose lives and works went on outside and around the cloister.

Here is a little history of this Cloister……


1983 – 1993
. In the Beginning

by Gertrude K. Daugherty

Located between Vaughns Gap Road and Highway 70 South was a
side covered with grass and trees, home to birds, rabbits, and other
small creatures, part of a tract of land given by Henry Neuhoff to the
tholic Diocese of Nashville. Eighteen acres were used as the impres-
sive site for a beautiful church to be called St. Henry, and 44 acres for
a retirement community “built in response to the growing need in
Nashville for housing for the middle and upper income people that is
ffordable, secure, and in a Christian environment,” for persons age 55
nd over.

It was to be developed in three phases. Phase I: 240 one-story Georgian
Cottage-style duplexes with 2 – 3 bedrooms, patios or decks, and
garages. P
hase II: a tenstory high-rise complex with 200 retirement
apartments with related amenities. (This has not yet been built.)
Phase III: a major nursing home, the present Brookmeade Health Care
nter. Phase I in addition to the residences includes a community activity
center wit
h rooms for meetings, dinners, games; a kitchen, library,
hapel, and swimming pool. The St. Henry Property Development
Committee, c
haired by Harold Black, was in charge. Ray Williams and
Diane Co
llins managed the Sales Office. Some 30 companies made bids
on various aspects of the development, six were thoroughly investi
ted, and the following were chosen: Barge, Waggoner, Sumner and
Cannon were the Site Engineers; Mitchell Barnett, the architect Jones
thers, Site Preparation; and Rochford Realty and Construction, the
uilding Contractor. The retirement community will be known as “The
loister at St. Henryand will ultimately be a 30 million dollar project.

By June 1983 all 54 units in Phase IA had been sold, and the first resident
had moved in. On January 29, 1984, the “First Meeting” of the residents of Phase IA
had occurred, with 48 of the 54 owners attending. Of the 12 candidates for Board Directors, the following were elected: Paul Breen, Gertrude
, Elinor McIlwaine, and Don Punch; Karol Grace was ap-
pointed by SHPD to
represent them. Paul Breen was elected president.

By April, 1984 there were 72 residents 20 men and 52 women. Their
median age was
75. This group quickly established close and friendly
ties. Every Monday morning for the first several months
, someone
hosted a Coffee Klatch
in his/her home and almost everyone came every

The first issue of the CLOISTER NEWS appeared in April, 1984.
The first Covered Dish Supper was held on the street in front of the
ales Office on May 3. The Clubhouse and Pool were dedicated June
4 and the pool welcomed its first group of swimmers on July 4. Since
en the clubhouse has been the scene of Bridge and other card games,
ercise groups, clinics, parties, and other assorted meetings. It is also
available (
at a nominal cost) for residents who wish to entertain friends
and family groups too large for their homes.

By July. 1988, all units had been sold, 394 persons were in residence,and
it b
ecame apparent that some changes in organization were needed.
Some of the original Bylaws needed to be amended to reflect the growth
of the
community. Among the important changes was the increase in
size of the COA Board – from 4 to 8 members, and the employment of
a mana
gement company. David Floyd and Associates is presently our
nagement company. Presidents of the Board have been Paul Breen,
Willard Kendall, Jim Geldrich, Gertrude Dauqherty, Phil Lee, Sue
Mitchell. Jim Geldrich was recently elected to a third term.


Considerable effort went into the important task of naming our retire-
ment community. St. Henry Property Development Board members met
and produced a list of suitable names. Everyone attending church on a
particular Sunday was asked to choose a favorite from the list or to make
other suggestions. Scores of names were submitted. The Board Com
mittee and personnel at the Hart Agency who were to design the logo
chose the name THE CLOISTER AT ST. HENRY. It was felt that the
name connoted the peace and spiritual dimension to life that the people
who would move here were looking for, and that all those involved in
its development were striving to provide.

Then the SHPD Board appointed Msgr. Seiner, Msgr. Rohling, and
ther Bevington, the first three pastors of St. Henry, to prepare a list of names suitable for the streets of the Cloister. They decided the names should be from Scripture, or of missionaries in the United States, or religious communities, or significant religious individuals. Many names were submitted but they had to be governed by two criteria of
the Metro Public Works: that t
hey not duplicate any presently existing street names and that they be short. These were their selections: Cana Circle – place in Galilee where Jesus and some of his disciples attended a wedding reception. Cloister Drive – main entrance to the community. Emma Neuhoff Court wife of Henry Neuhoff, donor of
the land. Glenmar
y Court – place in Ohio, base of the Glenmary Home
. Loyola Drive – place in Spain, birthplace of founder of
esuit Order. Marquette Drive – early Catholic explorer of the Missis-
sippi River. Miles Court – first Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of
lle in 1837. Mount Carmel Place place in the Holy Land; also
ssociated with the Carmelite Order of priests and nuns. Siena Drive –
place in Italy where St. Catherine, a Dominican Order saint, lived. St.
Luke Drive – writer of the third Gospel; drive leading to the Brook-
meade Nursing Home.


During the first few years, the young community faced some challeng-
ing problems. For instance, water diverted from its usual courses by the
ading and building site preparations showed up in unexpected places,
such as yards, inside garages and living rooms. Then in the second year
had a plague of crickets. By the hundreds they invaded our lawns,
gardens, and houses. Dogs were a major concern for a while. Cloister pets                         plus wanderers from neighboring areas soiled our lawns and walkways;                         some barked and a few bit; some chased rabbits into the black drain tubing and tore
up the tubing in their scramble to get the rabbits seeking refuge there.
One surprise was the discovery of a litter of puppies delivered by a
ndering mother dog in the living roomtobe of a construction on
Siena Drive. All five found homes a week later with the workmen who
took them home to be pets for their children.

A mysterious happening was the levitation of several blocks of sidewalk
n Cana Circle. In a spell of very hot weather, two blocks rose creating
a c
oncrete drawbridge effect and a real hazard to unwary walkers. No
explanation fo this curious.phenomon was ever found, and it was
orrected after the second episode.

A more dangerous situation for our walkers, especially those who liked
to walk in t
he streets was that of cars driving fast on our streets. At first
it was t
he cars of residents in a hurry. Later it was drivers from Highway
70 using our streets to cut through to Vaughns Gap Road. At the advice
of Metro Traffic Commission
, “Silent Policemen”, bumper strips across
the streets at intersect
ions that shook up drivers exceeding our posted
15 m
ilesper-hour speed limit discouraged drivers from the highway
and slowed down our re
sident drivers.

Lawns were a major problem. In the beginning residents were respon-
sible for the lawns around t
heir homes. Some had meticulously mani
cured lawns; some were so-so, cutting the grass when it was called to
their attention; and some didn‘t care how their lawn looked. Eventually
the Board contracted a lawn service who cut the grass weekly or as
needed. The swimming pool provided some surprises. On several occasions
roups of teenagers, guests of residents with grandchildren, preempted
the pool with ball thro
wing, shouting, diving, etc. on one occasion four
enage boys came several afternoons, climbing over the fence to get
in, until they were told they were trespassing on private property.
Another time, two young ladies decided they would get a smoother sun
an if they went topless. The pool rules have been amended to provide
or such adventures.

Time, patience, courtesy, and good will have worked together to solve
hese growing pains.

Printed May 1993