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Glen Oak, Circa 1854: A Beautiful and Historic Home

Posted by on Jan 8, 2013

Today, Karin Eaton, founder and CEO of Ironware International, takes us on a virtual tour of her beautiful, historic Nashville home.

Photographs courtesy of Scott Hughes.



My husband, Robin, and I moved to this pre-Civil war house in 1994 with our 3-year-old daughter, Alex. We purchased our home from Tom Ward, who was then Rector of Christ Church. An unusual coincidence is that another rector of Nashville’s Christ Church, the Reverend Charles Tomes, built this house in 1854. He named it Glen Oak, and it is one of the most significant remaining examples of Gothic Revival architecture in Middle Tennessee.

It’s a fun house and a fabulous party house. Glen Oak is home to ghosts, (Alex is acquainted with one), and legends (perhaps a stop on the Underground Railroad). It’s an inspiring house. Glen Oak has a role in Alice Randall’s novel Ada’s Rules and graces the cover of Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, and Mark O’Conner’s Appalachian Waltz album. It’s a creative house that provides the perfect oasis for Robin’s songwriting, as well as a constantly evolving showcase for the lighting and furniture designs of my company, Ironware.

The North tower has the original tin ogee-shaped roof. The carved vergeboard along the porch, the double Gothic arched doors and the quatrefoil detailing of the eaves are all characteristics of Gothic Revival. Because of the way the streets were laid out in the 20’s, this view of the house is not visible from the road.


Elizabeth and me at the entrance to Glen Oak with gold leafed chandelier, Gothic arch and William Morris-style wallpaper.


The dusky lavender of this room is so romantic! The mantel and fireplace surround are formed tole with the original faux marble paint. The caned armchair was found at the Nashville fairground’s flea market, and the rocking chair is 19th century from Robin’s family. The pastel is by Michael Bastow and the print by Tony Fitzpatrick.


A collection of lipstick prints are a souvenir from Alex’s 8th grade graduation


My bronze bust of our dearly departed boxer, Petey, guards a sculpture by Lanie Gannon.


We found this wonderful Napoleon III mechanical armchair with retractable ottoman in Normandy.


This pool table makes our house party central! It is illuminated by an Ironware billiard light. The two portraits were painted by Robin’s grandmother.


The mild chaos in this room is echoed in the chandelier, the painting by Kathryn Schoepflin and the charcoal work by Sue Mulcahy. Even though I struggle with it, ultimately, I find clutter quite comforting.


Jean Loup Sieff took this photo of me in the Bahamas back in the 80’s. Ironically, it was a job for Carel shoes. How French, right?!


All the walls downstairs are off white. The molding and ceilings provide the vehicle for the punch of color that I could never live without. The rug, throw, and striped mounted fabric were foraged in Istanbul. And, of course, the bed, chandelier, lamp and sconce are by Ironware.


This dormer is part of the bathroom renovation we did in 1994. The former owners gave us a set of 19th century stained glass windows they had found but never used. The oak leaf and acorn pattern are a perfect fit for Glen Oak.


Student charcoals by Robin’s grandmother hang over another Nashville Flea market find.


This 1950’s vintage French rotary telephone actually works.


The mule chest grounds the collection of photographs and prints from Robin’s family


French hand-forged iron


The original walnut banister dominates the entrance hall. My grandmother gave us the early 19th century Tennessee Jackson Press as our wedding gift.


This guitar was made by Mark Brewer, who is currently doing a kitchen and bath renovation for us. So Nashville!


Lovely sketch found at an estate sale hangs above a large amethyst crystal bookend, favorite reading and 2 Jamaican sculptures


Love the shadows of the carved vergeboard.

Thank you Karin! And thank you, also, to Scott Hughes for your amazing photography.

Undoubtedly, Scott captured the beauty and spirit of Glen Oak. If you are interested in seeing more of Scott’s work, click here. And, read more about Karin and the evolution of Ironware International at this website address: