the history of the edgehill polar bears

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winter 2017

you may not be able to tell it by the smiles on their faces but these two polar bears are knocking on the door of 90 years old. they have witnessed many changes to the city. they were the creation of giovacchino mattei who owned the mattei plaster relief ornamental company. initially commissioned for the polar bear frozen custard shops here in nashville in 1930, there was a set of polar bears created for each location: one on west end avenue and one in east nashville on gallatin road.

according to the former city paper, when those shops closed after world war II, edgehill resident zema hill bought them and brought all four back to edgehill village. FullSizeRendertwo of them went into his front yard at 1408 edgehill avenue and two went in front of the neighborhood funeral home which were sold later in 1952. since 2004, the ones from his front yard now sit at the corner of edgehill avenue and 12th avenue south, ready to throw the first snowball. they have become celebrity icons of the neighborhood having recently been included in the new neighborhood signs.

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