A new historical marker recognizing the Vine Hill estate and horse farm was unveiled on Friday, April 1, 2022 (William Gerst’s 175th birthday) at the intersection of Benton and Bransford Avenues (near the new Nashville Soccer Club stadium). Metro Councilman Colby Sledge was present, along with representatives from the Metro Historical Commission and local beer historian, Scott Mertie. Afterwards, Mertie hosted a reception at the Blackstone/Nashville Brewing Company featuring Nashville Amber, a pre-prohibition style lager.
William J. Gerst, of the Gerst Brewing Company, purchased the Vine Hill estate in 1900 from Captain John W. Morton. Gerst’s interest in horse racing prompted him to turn the estate into a large horse farm. By 1905, he was training thoroughbreds and racing them nationally. In 1910, his prize horse Donau (named for the Danube River) became the only Tennessee horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Donau died in 1913 and was buried in an unmarked grave near the south side of the estate.
The Gerst family sold Vine Hill in 1941 to make way for Vultee Aircraft’s employee housing. The home was later used as a community center during WWII. It was eventually raised to make room for the Vine Hill community that is here today.
Jessica Reeves, historic preservationist with the Metro Historical Commission, stated: “As Nashville continues to grow, I think it is exceptional that we are still honoring Nashville’s history. Every new marker that we install just adds to the richness of our understanding of early life in Middle Tennessee and the integral part that brewing had in it. The Historical Commission is so thankful to have the support of community partners like Scott Mertie, who is a tireless advocate for remembering our past, especially when it comes to beer.”
This is the seventh beer-related historical marker commissioned by Scott Mertie and his wife, Candy:
- The Nashville Brewery marker was erected on 6th Avenue South at the original location of the Nashville Brewing Company (1859-1890) and the Wm. Gerst Brewing Company (1890-1954).
- The Germantown Brewery District marker is located on 5th Ave North. It recognizes the four neighborhood breweries that operated in Germantown in the 1860s.
- The Nashville Porter and Ale Brewery marker is located at 1901 Charlotte Ave, which was originally established in 1815.
- The Brewery at Mill Creek marker is located on Elm Hill Pike at Massman Drive, which was also first established in 1815.
- The Tennessee/Spring Water Brewery marker is located at the BNA Aircraft Observation Area on Vultee Blvd. which was first established in 1858.
- The Gerst House marker recognizes the original location of the famous German restaurant at 2nd Ave N and Union Street, near Public Square.
Mertie is a local healthcare executive who also has a vested interest in Nashville’s brewing history. He is the author of Nashville Brewing (Arcadia Publishing; 2006), owner of the Nashville Brewing Company, and a board member of the Metro Historical Commission Foundation.