Our History

The history of Owl’s Hill began in 1959 when Huldah and Walter Sharp gave their Cheekwood home in Nashville for public use as a Museum of Art and Botanical Garden. They purchased a 170-acre farm from the Elam family and began constructing the scenic stone walls we see today at the same time they were building their new home on the side of a hill overlooking their newly purchased farmland. Shortly after completion, the Sharps were outside one night and could hear a Great Horned Owl calling from the ridge. They remarked that they must have built their home on the owl’s hill and began calling their property Owl’s Hill Farm.

In 1983 the property was given to Cheekwood Botanical Gardens and Museum of Art. In 1988, Huldah Sharp’s dream of a nature sanctuary started down the long road to reality when Cheekwood hired a full time naturalist to oversee the creation of a wildlife habitat preserve, establish education programming, undertake conservation projects, correct erosion problems and make the now 125-acre site available for plant research. The new facility was christened Owl’s Hill Nature Center. The caretakers cottage that had originally been a hay barn was turned into a Visitor Center.

Since there was only one employee and financial support was limited to interest on the endowment, progress was slow but steady. Cheekwood provided administrative support but financially, Owl’s Hill was on its own. In 1991 a Boy Scout appeared in search of an Eagle Service Project. His project was removing wire fencing from a scenic wooded area. The restoration had begun. Between 1991 and the summer of 2015, ninety-one Eagle Service Projects helped transform the neglected, overgrown cattle farm into a vibrant wildlife sanctuary.

In the spring of 2006, the Board of Trustees of the Cheekwood Botanical Garden & Museum of Art voted to turn over all Owl's Hill assets to the newly created nonprofit organization.  The now 160-acre preserve Owl's Hill Nature Sanctuary became a completely independent non-profit by spring of 2007.