Everything was black: the night, the road, the clouds, the trees, and… rainy. Was it worth the effort? Was it safe? Should we continue?

We persevered on.

How would you like to visit these 3 beautiful historic homes? Rick and I spent 2 days in Nashville this past fall doing just that.

If you can’t make it in person, I’m giving personal tours here.  🙂

In the event you choose to join me, I will bestow fun, beauty, and history galore.

You won’t be disappointed.

Which 3 historic homes? 

Well, I’ll tell you this: they’re all delightful and all in Nashville, TN.

Ready? Let’s get started!

Early morning travel is so exciting!

Ahh,  the excitement of leaving in the early morning…

The road less traveled

First of all, we had to get to Nashville.

The hubby (Rick) and I left bright and early on a clear, cool autumn-Thursday morning.

…Well, it wasn’t bright unless you consider the moon.  😉

To me, leaving in the dark lends extra excitement. (I actually got some good shots in the dark.)  The roads are less crowded, too, so that’s a plus.

Where will we be at sunup? How many miles can we check off before the sun says good morning? How soon before we can break into the snacks?   😛

Color and then deep darkness

Once the sun did rise, beautiful fall hues overwhelmed our eyes. Back home fall was done, but it hadn’t lost its hold here in warmer states.

I had wondered how traveling in November would be… But it was awesome! The vibrant colors thrilled me the whole trip.

A cozy fall scene in Missouri

A house comfortably nestled among colorful trees

Fall colors on the interstate

Truck and trees match!

Cool bridge over the huge Ohio River

We crossed many big rivers and bridges. They’re fun!  🙂

Colorful fall trees

Eerie, but beautiful, trees in the water

Multi-colored fall day

A very colorful rest area in Illinois

Clouds and raindrops accompanied us most of the day,

but the sights still brought much joy and many “oooh’s” along the way!

I think the vibrant colors stood out more against the dreary sky.

Road tripping with an atlas

We don’t leave home without it!

Wide rivers and big bridges, never-ending color, and the St. Louis arch were among the gems we enjoyed on “travel day.”

After 12 hours and 6 states,   😯  we made it to Nashville thoroughly anticipating the “first” day.

An inviting path in the fall

My favorite travel-day photo, taken at an Illinois rest area

Dark, dark night

I’d like to paint a picture of our last few hours driving in the dark and rain on unfamiliar roads into Nashville…

Newly paved shiny blacktop wet with misty rain, dark outlines of trees pressing in, and inky clouds hovering above.

A thick pitch-black night. It’s like we were in a whole different world!

Belle Meade mansion, Nashville, TN

The Belle Meade Plantation today, after the 1853 remodel

Day one-Historic Home #1. Circa 1807, John Harding bought a cabin on 250 acres and over the years with his slaves’ and later his son’s help, the Belle Meade Plantation came to be. Belle Meade is exciting, fun, and relaxing all at once. The house remains in great shape as do the grounds, other buildings, and old stone fence.

Furthermore, the tour guides dressed in time-period clothing and spoke on their subject in depth.

Spacious style

In the 1820s, John Harding directed his slaves to build a red-brick Federal-style home. Later (in 1853), son William altered the home, enlarging and changing it to its current Greek-Revival style to tout his financial success.

I love this type of home characterized as a simple square or rectangular box, two or three stories high, and two rooms deep. The uncluttered arrangement of the spacious rooms appeals to me.

Belle Meade Plantation entry hall, Nashville, TN

Found an awesome site with pictures of Tennessee history! This is pretty much what the front hall looks like today with lots of original furniture and photos.

Got bacon?

Two of the 3 historic houses we visited included extensive grounds to explore. Correspondingly, perfect fall weather made for beautiful days, which was a relief after the soggy start to the trip.

After our tour of the Belle Meade home, we explored the original cabin on the land as well as huge Southern Magnolia trees and the smokehouse, the largest in the South when built in 1826. Thus:  20,000 lbs of pork were smoked annually!

Additionally, the tour included a free wine tasting. We aren’t wine drinkers; however, I got caught up in the excitement and bought 2 fruity bottles.  😳

5400 acres of horses

At its largest, Belle Meade sat on 5400 acres and was well-known for raising and breeding thoroughbred horses.

In the second half of the 19th century, Iroquois, Bonnie Scotland, and Enquirer, whose bloodlines still dominate modern horse racing today, produced fame for Belle Meade.

Sea Biscuit, Seattle Slew, Secretariat

If you’re a fan of horse racing, here’s some interesting info from the Crossville Chronicle:

“From 1972 to 1996, winners of the Kentucky Derby, and most of the Triple Crown winners, were in the pedigree of Bonnie Scotland, including Sea Biscuit, Seattle Slew, Affirmed, and Secretariat. Now we can add another notch to that list, because California Chrome, who so far, in 2014, has earned $2,552,650, is also in the pedigree of this great horse, Bonnie Scotland, of Belle Meade Mansion.” ~ Old Uncle Gib

Uncle Bob Green

One piece of Belle Meade history that shouldn’t be excluded is Bob Green (Uncle Bob), Belle Meade’s most famous slave.

As head trainer and breeder of the horses, he did exceptionally well and even traveled to Europe with the horses, his expertise being acknowledged around the world.

White men carried him

“After slavery was abolished, Bob became the highest paid worker on Belle Meade Plantation. When he died in 1906, several white men served as his pallbearers. In the South.

Think about that for a minute.” ~ Travel Addicts blog

A photograph of Bob, horse included, hangs prominently in the central hall to this day.

Uncle Bob Green, Belle Meade Plantation, Nashville, TN

Bob Green and his horse on Belle Meade Plantation

Belle Meade Plantation

Rick and me very excited for our tour of the Belle Meade Plantation!

John Harding cabin at Belle Meade Plantation

The original cabin, first half built in 1790; a breezeway and second cabin added in 1807

Tour guide, Abby, at Belle Meade Plantation

Abby was our awesome, fun and informative tour guide  🙂  Her dress modeled the 1860s Christmas season

Sitting on the porch at Belle Meade Plantation

What a porch! What a view! The trees each chose a different dazzling color!

Southern Magnolia tree

Rick beside a huge, beautiful Southern Magnolia tree

View from the front porch of Belle Meade Mansion

Belle Meade’s beautiful grounds

The smokehouse of the Belle Meade Plantation

The large brick smokehouse

Original cabin on the Belle Meade Plantation property

Uncle Bob lived in the left side cabin after the family moved out

Original "stone-stacked" fence, Belle Meade Plantation

The original stone-stacked fence

Inside an 1820s cabin, Belle Meade Plantation

Inside Uncle Bob’s cabin

Old photo of the Belle Meade Plantation

Belle Meade in the 1800s; the house is on the far right. The carriage house, the large building in the center, still stands.

After spending considerable time on the property and amassing memory-invoking photos,

we said goodbye to the beautiful Belle Meade Plantation.

Historic Home #1 complete.

As shown above, satisfaction attained.  🙂

So excited!!

This next home is the whole reason for the trip to Nashville. Let me tell you a story.

About 5 years ago a historical fiction book captivated me. It told of a beautiful love story which took place in a beautiful home surrounded by 177 beautiful acres. What a setting!

History and homes of the 1800s fascinate me, always have.

How I loved reading of Claire and Sutton, the intriguing mansion, and the luscious acres of land they explored on horseback.

Not to mention the gardens and statues on the well-manicured grounds, the water tower, and the sometimes-forbidding Adelicia.

I soon found out that the owner/builder of this home was a real woman named Adelicia Acklen, and that the home still stood. And that it was somewhere I could reasonably get to.

I knew it

Right then, I knew that one day I would stand in those same rooms.

A Lasting Impression by Tamera Alexander certainly left one on me.

Do yourself a favor and read the 3-book series with Belmont Mansion as its setting.

Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN, Nov. 2018

Belmont, circa 1860 to the left, and its current state on Belmont University

After leaving Belle Meade, we ate our packed lunch in the van

and headed 5.5 miles through the beautiful fall-colored trees of Nashville

to Belmont Mansion, Adelicia Acklen’s real home, our Historic Home #2.

Not only are the books delightful to read, but reading about Adelicia’s real life is interesting as well.

Beautiful Nashville neighborhood

Aesthetic tree-lined streets led us to Belmont

Belmont Mansion, Belmont University campus grew around it

Our long-awaited first view!

Belmont Mansion's water tower, Nashville, TN

This tower could tell tales; it’s over 160 years old

First, we strolled the property.

Lions, deer, and even a dog.

Gazebos, statues, and fountains stood proudly where Adelicia had placed them, most in great condition.

It’s kind of hard to imagine the property as it was in the 1860s because of Belmont University crowding in.  🙁

Checking it all out

But, it’s still pretty cool because so much is original.

We climbed the water tower stairs, snapped photos in the gazebos,

and stood on the very steps where Adelicia once welcomed her many guests.

By the way, as you’ll soon see, Belmont gets the honor as the only one of the homes which allowed pictures to be taken inside.  😀

Inside Nashville's Belmont Mansion's water tower

Fun steps inside Adelicia’s water tower

Original gazebo on Belmont Mansion grounds in Nashville, TN

Isn’t this beautiful? It’s one of the larger gazebos on the grounds

Property view from front steps of Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

The view from the front steps/porch, water tower straight ahead behind the trees

Gazebo at Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN

Me in one of the many gazebos

Fountain and pansies on Belmont Mansion property in Nashville, TN

Flowers around an old, old foundation

Beautiful grounds of Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN

So pretty!

Now for the elegant history inside…

Next, the mansion transported us back to 1853 as we stepped over the threshold into the tete-a´-tete room.

Not my style, but this house accentuates opulence.

However, I do love the history learned, and just being somewhere so old stimulates my imagination and appreciation.  🙂

Belmont is great for any history lover but going there after reading Tamera’s book twice, I had many detail-seeking questions.

We enjoyed our tour (and lessons) with Trenton, the best tour guide ever! He spent a lot of time with us after all the others had departed. He thoroughly knows the house and the Acklen family.

Such excitement as we perused the rooms where Sutton, Claire, and Adelicia conversed.

(Sutton and Claire are fictional.  🙁  I wish not!)

The lavish tete-a-tete room at Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN

The tete-a-tete room, where private chats took place

Allow me to show you around…

Central parlor at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

One of two parlors in the home, the Central, is the larger

Original red transoms above doors in the Central parlor at Belmont in Nashville, TN

Central parlor featuring 3 of Adelicia’s deceased daughters

Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham

Adelicia with her horse Bucephalus; first husband, Isaac Franklin on left

The Grand Staircase and Grand Salon at Belmont in Nashville, TN

Looking into the Grand Salon from entry hallway

1853 original "painted marble" floor uncovered at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

This was so awesome to see! Original floor uncovered

Barrel-type ceiling of the Grand Salon at Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN

 Grand Salon’s intricate barrel-ceiling decoration

Before we go upstairs to see Adelicia’s bedroom, I would like to share a bit about her.

  • She grew up in Nashville and at age 22 married Isaac Franklin, a man 28 years her senior. They welcomed 4 children, none of whom lived past the age of 11 years.
  • In 1846, after 7 years of marriage, Isaac himself passed away.
  • He left her the wealthiest woman in Tennessee; she inherited Fairvue Plantation in Tennessee (8,700 acres), four cotton plantations in Louisiana, more than 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas, stocks/bonds, and 750 slaves.

6 children and 2 husbands…dead

  • She said “yes” to her second husband, Joseph Acklen, in 1849. Joseph and Adelicia built Belmont. Six more children joined the family.
  • Joseph passed away subsequent to 14 years of marriage after tripling Adelicia’s already-immense wealth.
  • In total, Adelicia gave birth to 10 children; only 4 grew to adulthood. She was twice widowed.
  • Belmont was her summer home, became the showplace of Nashville, and she opened it to the public as a private park and zoo.
Elaborate wallpaper telling the story of Odysseus, Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

Adelicia’s bedroom wallpaper tells the story of Odysseus. The same paper clings to the walls of one other Tennesse home, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

Adelicia's bedroom, Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

Trenton, our wonderful tour guide is on the right; it was hard to get good photos with so many people!

Adelicia Acklen's bedroom at Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

Adelicia’s room connected with the school room and with Pauline’s (the only daughter to make it to adulthood).

Notice the 2 paintings of her daughters; Adelicia hung many portraits of her children around the home.

Adelicia loved art and amassed quite a collection. She even built an art gallery on the property.

Her expensive paintings, sculptures, and statues, inside and out, were the talk of the town.

Angels sleeping, Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

A sweet sculpture of her twin daughters Laura and Corrine who perished of scarlet fever at age 3.

"Ruth Gleaning" statue in Belmont's entry hall, Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

 “Ruth Gleaning” in the entry hall shocked some Belmont visitors. (Sorry for the poor quality!)

Two more things before we say goodbye to the Belmont Mansion.

1. I found an old photo of the Grand Salon, taken in 1898⇒  ⇒ ⇒

 2. They have recently restored the original black and white floor.

It looks stunning.

In the 1860s, even though the floor shone like marble, wood-painted-to-look-like-marble substituted for the real thing. Incredible!

See below ⇓ ⇓

Old photo of the Grand Salon, 1898, Belmont Mansion

So excited to find this picture; history right in front of our eyes!

Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

An artist creates the “marble”

The Grand Staircase at Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN

The stunning Grand Staircase and floor of the Grand Salon

Historic Home #2 complete.

One day,

two awesome homes.

What a great day!  🙂

Grand Stairway, Belmont Mansion, Nashville, TN

Rick and I enjoyed the Belmont home very much!  🙂

Day 2

The Hermitage on Rachel's Lane in Nashville, TN

Historic Home #3–Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage

What a gorgeous morning!

Inviting lane leading to The Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Completely inviting!

Colorful Hermitage grounds, Nashville, TN

Multi-colored fall  😉

Four hours of our lives that fall day was spent touring Jackson’s home, visitor center, and grounds. We picked cotton, learned A LOT about him in the interactive museum, and peered into the bedroom where he took his last breath.

Welcome to the Hermitage

General Jackson’s home was originally crafted in the brick Federal-style but, after a fire in 1834, rebuilt in the same Greek-Revival style as Belle Meade. Smart tour guides, once again dressed in clothing of the times, painted the history of Jackson and his Hermitage.

Tour guide at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Our first glimpse of Andrew Jackson’s home

The back view of the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

The back of the house; kitchen and smokehouse on the right

From one 2-story to two 1-stories

Following our tour of the home and other buildings, we roamed the extensive property while golden trees shimmered above us. It struck me that we were walking the paths that Jackson’s feet had trod. 😯

When Jackson originally purchased the land, he and wife Rachel lived in a 2-story log home. This and a couple of slave cabins were known as the First Hermitage.

Later, the mansion being complete, the 2-story home was taken apart to make 2 more cabins.

The grounds of the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

What a glorious day! See the cabins in the distance?

First Hermitage area, Nashville, TN

Two cabins made from one log house

The path less traveled

We took a longer trail path, in contrast, to most visitors.

Solitude settled as we ambled beside a little creek that cooled the springhouse, walked the remains of the Field Quarter area (where 4 brick duplexes once housed the enslaved farm workers),  and explored the “First Hermitage” and cotton field.

A tranquil path at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

We were the only ones on this path  🙂

Creek on the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Lazy-flowing creek

Springhouse on Hermitage grounds, Nashville, TN

Silly Rick near the springhouse

Looking toward the back of the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Small cotton field on the left, Alfred’s cabin and the mansion on the right

The cabins made from Andrew Jackson's original home

These cabins were fun to see

Picking cotton at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

A real cotton field

Cotton plant and field at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Cotton busting out of its boll

He lived here longer than anyone else

Heading back towards the house an original cabin, known as Uncle Alfred’s, stands near the back of the mansion.

Betty, the Jackson family cook, birthed Alfred “Jackson” into slavery during the early 1810s at the Hermitage.

After his emancipation, Alfred became a tenant farmer on the Hermitage, as well as a handyman and tour guide for the Ladies’ Hermitage Association when the house opened as a museum in 1889.

Honored in death

Alfred died in 1901 after having lived at the Hermitage longer than any other person, white or black.

 Appropriately, his funeral was held in the center hall of the mansion.

Uncle Alfred's cabin at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Uncle Alfred’s well-preserved cabin

Original fireplace in Uncle Alfred's cabin at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Inside Uncle Alfred’s well-kept cabin, not much more than a bed, table, and fireplace

Every home needs a garden… at least back then

Adjacent to the house is the foursquare English garden consisting of four quadrants and circular center beds, a favorite spot of both Rachel and Andrew.

Garden path at The Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Quite inviting!

Garden at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

What a cute little guy

Circular design of the garden at the Hermitage Nashville, TN

The garden is laid out in circles

Jackson lost his precious Rachel on December 22, 1828, three weeks after her husband’s victory in the election and 10 weeks before he served his first term as our 7th president.

Consequently, his niece, and later his daughter-in-law, served as “first lady.” Andrew missed and mourned Rachel the rest of his days.

He buried her in her favorite place…the garden.

Andrew and Rachel Jackson memorial at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Rachel and Andrew’s final resting place in the garden has quite a view

Alfred's grave in the Hermitage garden, Nashville, TN

Alfred is also buried in the garden, near the tomb of the President and Mrs. Jackson.

The Hermitage land, Nashville, TN

The beautiful, serene view from the garden overlooks the Hermitage grounds

Bonus photos found on the Tennessee State Library and Archives website. Click here for more.

Staircase in the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Elegant front hall staircase

Black man in front of Hermitage, Nashville, TN

The Hermitage, unknown year

Andrew Jackson's bedroom, Nashville, TN

Jackson’s bedroom where he passed away

A unique tree at the Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Two trees grew together near the Field Quarter area

Hermitage grounds, Nashville, TN

Rick and me on a sunny fall day at The Hermitage  🙂

Historic Home #3 and day 2 complete.

As promised, 3 amazing historic homes/stories in 2 days. Now, it’s like I’ve had two trips, the original and the one with you.  😉

It WAS worth it, safe and, obviously, we made it! The black rainy travel reaped rewards!

For this reason, if you know someone who appreciates history and/or beautiful old homes, share this story with them.

It’s been fun! Catch you next time. Until then,

Blessings and blooms, and awesome old houses,


Wildflowers on the trail to Bridal Veil Falls

P.S. Let me know if you visit the homes or read the books!  😉

Author: Pam

Glad you’re here!