HistoryProjectsPark LeadershipFAQFriends of Warner Parks


Friends of Warner Parks is a nonprofit park-benefit organization that raises money independent of the city and spends it under a plan of action mutually agreed upon with the Metro Parks.  Our mission is to preserve, protect and steward historic Warner Parks.  This is a great example of a public/private partnership.  We continue to invest in the future of the Parks and in so doing have seen Metro Parks match our efforts with improvements and promises to continue to link arms as often as possible.  Friends of Warner Parks has invested over $32 million in Warner Parks over the past 30 years.






2016 Accomplishments

Year in Review - 16mb

With your support, Friends of Warner Parks accomplished numerous visible enhancements to the Parks in 2016 including:

  • Completed 4 Historic Shelter restorations – 3 in Edwin Warner Park and 1 in Percy Warner Park.  In total, Friends of Warner Parks has invested more than $500,000 in historic shelter restorations.  One more to go!
  • Constructed magnificent stone steps and new trailhead to connect the Alleé (stone stairs at the Belle Meade entrance) to the Warner Woods trail (aka white trail).
  • Northern-Hodge Cemetery restoration.
  • Clare Armistead was recognized as Board Member of the Year by the Center for Nonprofit Management at the annual Salute to Excellence banquet for her leadership in the creation of Friends of Warner Parks in 1987 and for her continued work with Friends 30 years later.
  • Volunteer Coordinator Paul Fowler was recognized as one of Nashville’s 30 in their 30’s by the Tennessean and the Center for Nonprofit Management.
  • Friends of Warner Parks received an honorable mention at the 41st annual preservation awards presented by the Metro Historic Commission for restoration of the WWI monument in Percy Warner Park that honors WWI soldiers who trained at Camp Andrew Jackson.  The camp was located on what is not the Percy Warner golf course.
  • Supported 13 Metro staff position at Warner Parks at a cost of over $145,000.
  • Nearly 3,000 volunteers embraced Warner Parks by investing 8,800 man hours caring for trails and streams, doing invasive plant removal, litter and landscape management, assisting with environmental education programs and more. The economic impact of this is over $200,000.
  • Purchased another 3.5 acres to add to the Burch Reserve (plus another 4.5 acres this year).
  • Began development of a land acquisition plan.
  • With the help of Friends of Warner Parks, Metro Parks and Recreation made several upgrades underway to protect natural elements, enhance parking and trail experiences, and provide greater safety to park visitors. Let Metro Parks’ Special Projects Manager, Tim Netsch, walk you through some of the improvements taking place in your Park. Watch the video below and follow the progress of this and other Warner Park improvements here.

Current & Completed Projects by Friends of Warner Parks

Burch Reserve of Edwin Warner Park

As of July 2017, construction is well underway on the tunnel under the CSX railroad tracks that will serve as the gateway to the Burch Reserve property.  Friends of Warner Parks Executive Director Mark Weller met with Rock City Construction Company, Inc. Superintendent Sonny Nicholson recently to tour the site. The project is being overseen by the Metro Parks and Recreation Department.

Currently the focus of work includes setting and pouring the retainer walls, facing them with limestone, grading, and drainage control.  Although a formal date has not yet been set, it is hoped that the Burch Reserve will be opened to the public by the end of the 2017 calendar year.

Phase I contract work, including construction of the stone entry gates, pedestrian connection, boardwalk, parking area and trailhead at Hwy 100 and Old Hickory Blvd is complete.  The Burch Reserve tunnel project has overcome all the legal hurdles, and Rock City is on-site daily making preparations for the specialized tunneling machine to arrive. The Capture Burchconstruction of the railroad tunnel and connector walkways could take up to a year. A two-mile trail in the Burch Reserve has been completed by area Boy Scouts, and is currently being used for Nature Center guided hikes. Two additional Eagle Scout projects are underway. They are the installation of a footbridge and the construction of three scenic spur trails on the main loop trail. Clean-up of trash and junk continues with volunteers. This area will not open to the public until the tunnel is completed under the railway.  However, individuals interested in a “preview” may join a guided hike scheduled by the Nature Center.  All other access is prohibited at this time.



Nature Play Spider Web

The Nashville Predators Foundation fully funded a request for the purchase of a rope “spider web” cargo net climbing structure to be added to the Nature Play area. The Warner Park Nature Center’s Nature Play area is a space which provides young children the opportunity to engage in unstructured outdoor play, encouraging lifelong connections to nature and the outdoors.  Unstructured nature play has been documented to increase children’s fine and gross motor skills development, creativity, social skills development, and bolsters their immune systems.

Each year Warner Park Nature Center adds one new/additional play element to Nature Play, to keep the activities fresh and challenging. Friends of Warner Parks felt that the climbing spider web would provide a new play experience for children to engage in when visiting Nature Play.  Every child needs to have positive outdoor experiences.  Nobody can disagree with that.  And if a simple piece of equipment can spike the curiosity of the natural world AND be fun, then we have helped to create that positive experience.

We are grateful to HCA volunteers who gave their time on September 25th to install the new element at Nature Play. Through their Community Day effort, over a dozen incredible skilled volunteers joined us for the day.  With the guidance and the hardworking efforts of the HCA team, along with the funding from the Nashville Predators Foundation, the dream of a huge spider web climbing structure has installed.  No sooner than we pulled the last truck away, the web had already captured its first bright-eyed and overjoyed kids. It was a great way to conclude such a big day.

We cannot thank the Nashville Predators Foundation and HCA enough!

Hairpin Turn Reconstruction

Runners, walkers, and cyclists who enjoy the popular 5.8 mile paved trail in Percy Warner Park are familiar with the feature known as the “Hairpin Turn” located between Lea’s Summit and the Belle Meade entrance. This “switchback” is a design element often used on trails and roads to accommodate significant changes in elevation. Longtime park visitors may remember the large tree that once stood in the median of this switchback, and that was the likely reason for the original layout of the scenic paved trail at this location.

Friends of Warner Parks has placed a high priority on the restoration of the park’s historical structures since the non-profit organization was established in 1987. They are funding the restoration of the historic stone wall, built by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930’s, that wraps around the Hairpin Turn. This stone wall is a contributing structure for the listing of the Warner Parks in the National Register of Historic Places. The specialized contractor for the project is Johnsen Stonemasons. Work is expected to be completed by mid-August. Park visitors are encouraged to slow down as they pass the construction site to ensure safety and to enjoy & observe the restoration project in progress.

As of August 2017, the stonework at the Hairpin Turn has been completed!


Entrance Gates to Percy Warner Park

Restoration of the Historic Sandstone Gates

In early 1930, Mrs. Percy Warner wrote to the Board:

“With your consent, I desire to erect, as a memorial to my husband, Percy Warner, and entrance way to Percy Warner Park at its intersection with Belle Meade Boulevard, and for that purpose, I have deposited with the Fourth and First National Bank of Nashville, $20,000 in securities. In providing this fund, I do so with the thought that it will in a measure, help carry out the vision Mr. Warner had for the development of this wonderful park area.”

Her request was granted. Edward Dougherty drew the plans and a contract was closed with John Oman, Jr., for the construction of the imposing gates of Sewanee sandstone capped by stone eagles. The gates were dedicated on April 26, 1932, with Mary Louise Lea, daughter of the donor of the park, and John Warner White, both of whom were grandchildren of Percy Warner, cutting the ribbons.

The dream to stop the deterioration historic Sandstone Gates at the entrance to Percy Warner Park is getting closer to reality.  Govan White, great grandson of Percy Warner, and his family have pledged the lead gift toward the project, and encourages others to link arms with him to fully restore the gates to their original splendor. If you would like to contribute to this project, please contact Mark Weller, Executive Director, at 615.370.8053

October 2017

Most park visitors are very familiar with the unique sandstone entrance to Percy Warner Park that is located at the intersection of Belle Meade Blvd. and Page Road. The eagle-topped structure, dedicated in 1932, is a memorial to Percy Warner that was funded with a donation of $20,000 by Mrs. Percy Warner and their daughters in 1930.  The architect for the memorial was Edward Dougherty.

Decades of harsh weather along with wear and tear have taken their toll on this iconic stone entrance. Thankfully, a major restoration project is planned to begin in the near future. The lead gift to fund the restoration has been donated by Govan White, great-grandson of Percy Warner, and his family. The 2017 Sunday in the Park Co-Chairs Susan Weathersby and Eliza Brunson have been strong advocates for this project and made it the centerpiece of the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the Warner Parks, and the 30th anniversary of the Friends of Warner Parks. The skilled contractor for the project will be The Tradesmen Group, Inc., Restoration Specialists.


Other Stonework Repair

Multiple accidents in recent months have resulted in damage to historic stone columns and walls at several locations. Friends of Warner Parks and Metro Parks are working with insurance companies to be compensated for the damaged stonework.  The stone wall on the 5.8 roadway is scheduled to be repaired this year as is the damaged stone wall on Hicks Rd, thanks to many generous Friends of Warner Parks.

New Mounted Patrol Horse Barn

A gift from the Volunteer State Horseman’s Foundation and The Middle TN Pony Club has been approved by Metro Parks to construct a Equestrian Barn that will be used by the Park Police Mounted Patrol.  It is scheduled to break ground this summer 2017.

New Nature Center Exhibits

Because generous Friends love the Warner Park Nature Center, new exhibits are being fabricated in Minnesota and are scheduled to be installed this fall 2017.

Ongoing Projects by Friends of Warner Parks

Land Acquisition

Protection, preservation, and stewardship are the three pillars of the Friends of Warner Parks mission. As southwestern Davidson County has grown in population, the need to protect the land surrounding the Warner Parks has become more urgent. In the early 2000s, the opportunity to purchase land adjacent to Percy and Edwin Warner Parks led the organization to mount three capital campaigns that resulted in the acquisition of an additional 448 acres of parkland. FOWP is in the process of turning this land over to Metro Parks, which will oversee the development of trails and interpretive installations over the coming years.

The Burch Reserve is located across TN State Highway 100 across from Percy and Edwin Warner Parks. This parcel will one day be home to additional hiking trails, closed roadways, and other interpretive features. Construction has begun on the entrance to this area at the intersection of Old Hickory Boulevard and Highway 100. Check back for updates on progress!

The Hill Forest is located between Highways 70 and 100. It includes the former farm site belonging to the H.G. Hill Family and an extremely rare 275-acre old growth forest and State Designated Natural Area. This land was acquired through Friends of Warner Parks fundraising efforts and the generosity of the Hill family who sold the land to Friends of Warner Parks at a reduced price. Public access is currently restricted to guided hikes by Warner Parks staff. To learn more, call Warner Park Nature Center at 615.352.6299.

Invasive Plant Removal

Friends of Warner Parks conducts invasive plant removal projects with volunteers and private contractor, Invasive Plant Control. Non-native, invasive plants such as privet, honeysuckle, tree of heaven, princess tree, Bradford pear, and many others threaten the native flora in Warner Parks. Friends of Warner Parks and Warner Park Nature Center staff works with schools and the public on education about this ongoing battle and conduct volunteer plant pull days in the late fall, winter and early spring. Grant funding from the TN Department of Agriculture Division of Forestry has supported these efforts in the sensitive Hill Forest.

Historic Structure RestorationHodge House after repairs

From the distinctive stone walls and pillars to the picnic shelters enjoyed by so many, work to maintain and restore Warner Parks’ historic features is important and never done. Friends of Warner Parks, Metro Parks, and other parties work together to ensure restoration and repair projects honor the work of the original craftsmen and builders. This includes the Steeplechase course and equestrian barn, various buildings on Warner Parks’ grounds, the WPA built historic shelters, stone gates, walls and pillars, and even cemeteries. Donor gifts and grant funds have been instrumental in many of these restoration projects.

Currently 16 of the 20 historic shelters have been fully restored to their original condition.  Friends of Warner Parks is currently restoring the last 4 shelters. These are schedule to be completed the first quarter of 2016. Partnering with Metro Parks, many of the 297 historic stone pillars have been repaired or restored. Yet there are many more that still need attention. This is an ongoing effort as funding becomes available. To get involved, contact Executive Director, Mark Weller.


Trail maintenance and improvementTrail work 2014

What do you love about Warner Parks? The miles of tree-lined trails. The solitude of the Park’s interior. The chance to discover something new around every bend. Join Friends of Warner Parks to protect these one-of-a-kind experiences.

Warner Parks’ primitive trails are perhaps their most well-used amenity and are being loved to death. Erosion and foot traffic from hikers and runners results in lots of wear and tear. Trail maintenance and improvement are ongoing projects requiring help from many hands. Friends of Warner Parks hosts volunteer work days, engaging the public in caring for these beloved trails, and funds the summer S.W.E.A.T. team, an educational summer work program that completes major trail repairs over the course of eight weeks each summer. Mountain bike trails are maintained through the efforts of IMBA-SORBA of Middle Tennessee.

Just as the natural environment of Warner Parks is never stagnant, there is always work to be done to maintain and improve the Parks. Share your talent and time to make a positive difference in Warner Parks! There are abundant volunteer opportunities for people of all abilities and interests. Your efforts will mean the Parks are cleaner, safer, and better preserved for all to enjoy.