The first permanent Anglo settlement of Nashville dates to 1770 when two parties of settlers led by John Donelson and James Robertson, respectively, established a fort enclosing two acres along the banks of the Cumberland River. The present Fort Nashborough historic site was reconstructed in 1930 and then rebuilt in 1962 on a smaller scale than the initial two-acre enclosure. The fort recreates the construction techniques and unadorned look of the early settlement landscape of Davidson County. The puncheon log floors of the blockhouses, the rectangular single-pen cabins, the combination limestone and wood chimneys, and the saddle notching of the logs were common elements of early homes.
The local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), led by Lizzie Elliott, funded the fort's reconstruction as part of the organization's national effort to identify and preserve historic places in the early twentieth century. Joseph Hart was the consulting architect. Like the Ladies' Hermitage Association, the DAR played a pivotal role in the early years of the state's historic preservation movement. During the first half of the twentieth century, reconstruction and restoration of log buildings were especially popular projects, creating what may be termed a “Frontier Revival” movement for historic preservation and decorative arts in Tennessee.
Nearby the fort are two monuments. The Timothy Demonbreun statue, by sculptor Alan LeQuire, honors the French Canadian fur trader and early Nashville resident. The sculpture of town founders James Robertson and John Donelson shaking hands in 1780, representing the beginning of Nashville's history, is by Puryear Sims, an art professor from Vanderbilt University.