Nashville, 3/27 – Belle Meade, Belmont, and Parthenon

Spent Thursday touring historic homes. Started at Belle Meade Plantation, over 3500 acres and 130+ enslaved people by 1860. Unlike most plantations we read about, Belle Meade grew horses – thoroughbreds, race horses, champions. The bloodlines sired by Bonnie Scotland and Enquirer in the 1800s have led to a long line of impressive thoroughbreds (I thought the tour guide said Sea Biscuit, but I can’t find proof). The mansion has paintings of horses in nearly every room. Because both Union and Confederate troops respected thoroughbreds (and knew how skittish they are), Belle Meade’s horses were not requisitioned for use in battle by either side. That meant the Harding family, which owned the plantation, was able to quickly restart their horsebreeding business and regain their wealth right after the Civil War.

We toured the mansion, with costumed guides, slave quarters, stables/carriage house, and the winery – delicious blackberry wine, but they can’t ship to Massachusetts.

Click any photos for full-size:

From Belle Meade, we headed to Belmont Mansion, the largest house museum in TN, on what is now the campus of Belmont College. It was the home of Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham – tragic, wealthy, charming hostess. Widowed multiple times, she and 2nd husband built this mansion. She had gorgeous gardens, sculptures, greenhouse, even a zoo, and invited the townfolk to stroll the grounds and see the sights. Some say that Scarlett O’Hara is based on Adelicia.

Final “home” of the day – the Parthenon, a replica built for the Centennial Exhibition of 1897. Honoring Nashville’s reputation as the Athens of the South. It houses a museum, with history of the Centennial, and a collection of modern art on the lower floor. The main floor holds the ginormous statue of Athena. She’s so big (42′) that the statue of Nike in her hand is 6′ tall!

And finally, holler and swoller time, back on Broadway:

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