The original brick section of Monthaven is thought to date from the late 18th or early 19th century, and numerous later additions at several periods were made to the house.The original house was of Federal style and faced westward towards Mansker’s creek. The two-story weatherboard façade with front parlor rooms was probably built in the 1840s or 50s and is an example of a late Greek Revival period plantation house, with Victorian elements. Typical of Tennessee’s Greek Revival period in form and massing, the house displays Italiante decoration through arched window and door openings and carved cornice brackets. Interior architectural features display the transitional feeling of the house through a subtle blending of elements common to both periods.
During the Civil War there were several skirmishes on the property, and the house was used as a field hospital during the war by soldiers, and bloodstains were soaked into the poplar floors. The only original wooden poplar floors are upstairs in the two front bedrooms. Numerous Civil War and Indian artifacts have been found on the property. Originally, the property contained several early Pioneer log cabins, which have since been moved. These were some of the earliest structures and settlements in the county, dating to the late 18th century. Nearby is located Mansker’s station, the first pioneer fort in the area, founded in 1779.
Although the basic significance of the property is architectural, additional importance is derived from its long association with two prominent Nashville businessmen. Leonard B. Fite (1811-1882) moved to Nashville from Smith County, Tennessee, in 1830, and by 1834, had opened a lucrative retail and wholesale dry goods store. In 1850, Fite purchased 306 acres of farmland on Mansker’s Creek in Sumner County. He continued to live in Nashville until 1860 or 1861, when he sold his thriving business and shortly afterwards moved to his “pleasant home” in Sumner County. It is believed that Fite had the additions made to the house prior to selling L.B. Fite and Company, his Nashville business. Fite continued to live in the house until his death in 1882. It is believe that members of the Fite family continued to live in the house over the next decades until selling the farm in the 1930s, though little information is known.
Mont Bliss Comer purchased the house and property from the Fite family around 1932, which he used as a summer home. Up until this time, the Fite family had named the house Liberty Hall. In 1914, Mont Comer’s father, R.W. Comer, founded Washington Manufacturing Company, and by 1917, both Mont Comer and his brother, Guy, had joined their father in establishing one of Nashville’s best-known industries. In 1935 Mr. Comer decided to make the home his permanent residence. It is during this time, that extensive renovations and alterations to the house took place. Shortly after 1937, the Comers did a major renovation of the house. Double doors were installed in the downstairs parlor and many additions were made, including the glassed in sun porches. The electricity was modernized and the plumbing was put into the house in the late 30’s with the bathrooms being added in 1937. It is also in this period that the house’s large greek ionic columns were added, probably in the 1940s. Previously the façade had a more simple two-story columned porch.
In 1938 stone gates and an office were built, a log cabin, which was located a mile to the north, was moved. The roof was falling in but the structure was still there. When the log house was dismantled and moved, bits of newspaper from North Carolina were found which shows the log house predates Tennessee Statehood. Mr. Comer had the log cabin moved by mule wagons. Mr. Comer also had built one of Nashville’s first clay tennis courts, built for his daughters.
The Property was on both sides of Gallatin Road 31E, which was the old original stagecoach line that was the main route heading to Nashville and to any point north. It was the main supply route and ended there where the bridge is at Mansker Creek.
At one time Mr. Comer had twenty-six full time employees. This was in the late 30’s and early 40’s when the place was a working farm. The house was still named Liberty Hall and was not renamed Monthaven until Mr. Comer’s death in 1953. His wife Mrs. Comer continued to live in the house until her death in 1985, and their daughter Jackie until death in 1987. The house was officially named “Monthaven’ by Mrs. Comer in her husband’s honor.
The house is listed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places as the Leonard B. Fite house. It reflects the architecture in the early settlement period and the growing affluence of Middle Tennessee in the early nineteenth century. Monthaven now represents a later period in the development of rural residential styles in Sumner County.