Main Street Nashville

An Old Hickory funeral home and cemetery broke ground on an extensive expansion and new entrance at the end of July with plans to debut it October 2021.

Hermitage Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens, off Shute Lane, broke ground in mid-July to expand their existing 43 acres.

“We decided to open up our existing acreage,” said General Manager Brad Raines. “We are developing 20 acres in the back that had not been in use and take advantage of the road system to add another entrance.”

Raines said the nearest entrance to this new section is 500 yards away and the new, one-eighth-mile entrance road off Andrew Jackson Parkway will lead to eventual five “garden” sections.

Situated near the historic home of President Andrew Jackson, the Hermitage Funeral Home was built on the property in 1972.

“We already have one little garden up in the new section under construction,” said Raines. “It’s called ‘Garden of Andrew.’ There’s also some more acreage in the front for even further expansion down the road.”

Funeral work has been in the Raines family for six decades. His dad, Doug Raines, worked for Tom Hailey of Hibbett and Hailey Funeral Home. He subsequently ran Hermitage Funeral Home and retired in 2015. Son Brad Raines worked through high school digging graves and mowing grass here.

“I went to Western Kentucky University and majored in psychology,” said Raines. “I eventually got my license to be a funeral director.”

He explained Hermitage Memorial Gardens is made up of nine different “Gardens of the Apostles” with five more added in the new section.

They conduct about 360 services a year. There are 30,000 plots currently sold, with 13,000 used.

“It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, to plan your own burial, but the hardest decision in your life,” said Raines.

Sixty percent of their burials are prearranged.

“I’ve been in this profession 30 years now and I feel this is the best profession,” said Raines. “We support people. I don’t consider this a job. It’s a career to be there for people in the community on the worst day of their life. I have the talents to help people. We try to be kind and warm to them.”

Raines explained there are two types of burials; above ground in mausoleums and below ground. Two years ago, they added another mausoleum. Of their 300-plus funerals annually, about 60 of those they conduct off grounds.

Receptionist and executive assistant Mary Holladay has greeted guests there the past 36 years.

She and Raines walked to a new display at the entrance to the funeral home that depicts a new service called Legacy for families to salute their lost loved one. It’s a space provided for respite with a large display of items, pictures, plaques and memorabilia that salutes a lifetime of memories.

“It showcases the life of the loved one,” she said.

Holladay said it doesn’t seem strange to see an example showcasing her life, just feet away.

“We wanted people to see how they can honor their loved one with a table full of pictures, memories and other sentimental things,” she said. “It doesn’t bother me at all!”

Last Friday, a room was set up for a man who had passed.

He loved to grill out and fish. Part of the display was a miniature fishing boat and grill, among dozens of pictures and effects.

“It’s just a really nice centerpiece for family to gather and talk about their loved one,” said Raines.

The 12,000 square foot, two story funeral home was designed to mimic Andrew Jackson’s antebellum mansion that’s located next door. This funeral home has been a member of the Dignity Memorial network since 1977. Raines said Hermitage Memorial Gardens is the final resting place for a number of American legends including NASCAR driver Bobby Hamilton (mausoleum in 2007), Allman Brothers bassist Douglas Allen Woody (2000 entombed) and famed billiards player Minnesota Fats. His marker shows his given name, Rudolf W. Wanderone Jr. Also in their final resting place here are George Morgan, father of Lorrie Morgan, Ernest Tubb and Justin Tubb, as well as the brother of Loretta Lynn, Jay Lee Webb.

Hermitage Funeral Home & Memorial Gardens is located at 535 Shute Lane, in Old Hickory.

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