Voice of the Land
Voce´ community honors the deep-rooted legacy of Nashville crooner Eddy Arnold
Story by Nancy Henderson
Photography by Reed Brown and Garett Buell
Clover the rescued Australian cattle dog excitedly watches squirrels from the cargo space as Shannon Pollard’s four-wheel-drive Ford Explorer hugs the curved roads of Voce´. Driving through the new Brentwood neighborhood he’s developing near Radnor Lake, past tall maples and dogwoods and hackberries whose trunks bear small silver medallions to signify that they are not to be cut, Pollard arrives at the trailhead of a jarring, unpaved road and begins the steep climb to what will soon be the Ridgetop neighborhood.
“There was no traffic out here when my grandparents moved here,” says Pollard, referring to the late country crooner Eddy Arnold and his wife Sally, who in the 1950s settled on what was known as Windy Ridge. Pollard points to the spectacular view of the lake, the Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory, and downtown Nashville. “When I lived out here [as a teenager], you really did not feel you were in the city at all.”
That serenity still permeates Voce´. Characterized by naturally wooded home sites, walking paths, and outdoor terraces, the development is the brainchild of Pollard, 43, president of Plowboy Records and trustee of Arnold’s real estate holdings, and Pollard’s business partner Steve Armistead. When completed in 2020, the community will feature 52 residences on 61 acres.
Pollard, who grew up nearby, spent a lot of time here as a boy, throwing baseballs with his grandfather and doing chores for his grandmother to earn spending money. Years later, Pollard and Arnold were walking around the property when they stopped at the old cabin where Pollard and his sister Michelle had taken turns living after high school. “He looked up at the trees,” Pollard recalls, “and said, ‘When you do something with this, make sure you save as many trees as you can.’”
In many ways, Pollard’s own vision mirrors his grandfather’s. “It actually is a pretty magical little spot because it is the last of its kind in this entire area—a sizable piece of land that still has its natural topography and trees. I wanted to do sort of an English village feel, where you would have different types of houses grouped together in different ways. I also didn’t want to do something that was cookie cutter from a design standpoint. We didn’t want to do a neighborhood that was full of giant McMansion houses. We wanted to do something that was unique and less of a burden on the land.”
Most of the homes in Voce´—the name echoes Arnold’s crooning vocal style, mezza voce—span 3,000 to 4,000 square feet, with open floor plans, high ceilings, and expansive windows. Many utilize natural stone or repurposed wood salvaged from the original farmhouse and cabin. “The rule of thumb out here is that if it sticks out too much, we don’t want that,” says Pollard, who personally gravitates toward contemporary architecture. “We want something that’s a little more muted, with a great design but that fits into the trees a little bit better.”
Sustainability is a priority, with low-maintenance yards, post-and-pier foundations that slightly elevate the houses so as not to dig into root systems, and subtle “dark sky” lighting that minimizes light pollution. Five hundred trees and clusters have been marked for preservation. “Sally’s Tree”, a leaning pine Sally Arnold feared would fall on the house, still stands, as does “Eddy’s Tree,” a large oak backdrop for family photos. “Basically, I took what [my grandfather] told me to do and kind of maniacally took it in a further direction,” Pollard says, laughing. “We figured if you’re gonna do it, why not ask for the moon and see what you can get?”
From newlyweds to empty nesters, Voce´ homeowners are typically active, successful, and environmentally and artistically conscious. Among the first to move here, Steve and Jackie Arnold opted for a stone house designed by DAAD and built by Castle Homes. “At Voce´, we feel like we are on vacation all year long,” says Jackie Arnold. “We feel like we live on a hill all by ourselves, but we are minutes from everything we need: shopping, restaurants, recreation. We cannot say enough good things about the way Voce´ has brought us back to nature.”
Wrapping up the tour, Pollard stops the Explorer in the middle of Windy Ridge Drive, in what used to be the living room of the original farmhouse. Unlike many upscale communities, he notes, Voce´ is not gated. “I’m happy when people come over here and park their cars and walk. I do it myself. The last thing I want people to think is that we’re persnickety or pretentious. We’re more earthy than that.”