Mount Juliet (Nashville), TN - Events of Monday, June 23, 2014
Although we had numerous items on our list of possible things to do in the Nashville area, we were planning to take it easy and only do a couple of them. For one thing, Cedar Creek Corps of Engineers campground where we were staying was located about 20 or 25 miles northeast of Nashville, so almost all our sightseeing possibilities were pretty far away.
One of the things we were thinking about doing on Monday was taking a day trip about an hour south of Nashville to Franklin, TN. Franklin is a small, quaint town where there is a Civil War battlefield, a historic downtown area, and a couple of historic houses to tour. We were in the process of making a list of things we wanted to see there when we discovered Franklin was holding the Tennessee Senior Olympics all week. Not wanting to get our sightseeing plans tangled up with the 1,800+ participants and all the onlookers at the Senior Olympics, we decided to save Franklin for another visit.
We moved on to Plan B, which was to see Belmont Mansion. Belmont Mansion is located on the campus of Belmont University on the southwestern side of Nashville.
Admission to the mansion is $12 for adults, $11 for seniors and military and $10.50 for AAA members. The mansion is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 to 4:00.
We were surprised at how many people were there on a weekday. Fortunately, the tours are run very efficiently; and we only had to wait a few minutes before our tour started.
In 1839, Adelicia Hayes married Isaac Franklin, who was a wealthy slave trader and plantation owner and who was 28 years her senior. The couple had 4 children, none of whom survived past age 11.
Isaac Franklin died unexpectedly in 1846; and Adelicia inherited from him a plantation in Tennessee, 8,700 acres of plantations in Louisiana, 50,000 acres of undeveloped land in Texas, stocks, bonds, and 750 slaves. The estimated value of the estate was $1 million, which was a LOT of money back then. She had become the wealthiest woman in Tennessee and one of the wealthiest in the whole country.
In 1849, Adelicia was remarried to Joseph Acklen, who was an attorney from Alabama. Together they built Belmont Mansion (originally called Belle Monte) as a summer home to escape the heat of their plantations in Louisiana. Belmont, which sat on 180 acres of land, was completed in 1853. It had numerous outbuildings, gardens, a 200-foot long greenhouse and conservatory, a water tower to provide water for all the plants, a zoo, and a guest house that in addition to guest quarters also contained an art gallery and bowling alley.
Our tour started with a brief stop in the entry hall then went to the second floor where the master and children's bedrooms were located. Adelicia and her second husband had 6 children, 4 of whom survived to adulthood.
Off the master bedroom was the trunk room. Back in those times, ladies' dresses contained yards and yards of fabric. There were no closets yet, much less the type of large walk-in closets we have today, and the dresses would have been too large and too heavy to hang in the armoir. Therefore, ladies' dresses were typically folded and placed in trunks for storage. By the way, that is the original paint on the floor of the trunk room shown below.
One room on the second floor was used as a schoolroom where tutors home schooled the children. The table in the schoolroom contained items that would have been typically used for educational purposes back in the day. When we saw the slate with the math problems, we were reminded how much simpler math was back then before New Math and Common Core.
After touring the upstairs, we went back downstairs. The large salon at the bottom of the graceful stairs was originally the back porch. The porch was enclosed to create the salon, which was used for entertaining, and the stairs were added during a renovation that was done by the Acklens in 1859. There was originally a compact, spiral staircase to the second floor.
The first floor has a large dining room, which could accommodate large dinner parties.
Also on the first floor is the parlor. The parlor would have been used by the family and for entertaining close friends.
The painting behind the piano in the photo above is of three of the four children Adelicia had with her first husband. The fourth wasn't included in the painting because he only survived a day or two after birth. As we said, none of these children survived to adulthood.
Fortunately, Belmont survived the Civil War intact. Only the grounds were damaged during a two-week occupation by Union troops prior to the Battle of Nashville in 1864.
Adelicia's second husband, Joseph, died in 1863 during the Civil War while in Louisiana managing Adelicia's plantations. By the way, Joseph Acklen did an excellent job with the plantations. He tripled the value of Adelicia's holdings from its original $1 million.
In 1867, Adelicia married Dr. William Cheatham, a prominent Nashville physician. The couple eventually separated, and Adelicia began spending more and more time in Washington, DC.
In 1887, Adelicia sold Belmont to a land developer and moved to Washington permanently. Later that year, she came down with pneumonia while on a shopping trip to New York and died.
Two women from Philadelphia bought Belmont and opened a girls' school in 1890. The school later merged with Ward Seminary and became Ward-Belmont. In 1952, the school changed hands and became today's Belmont University, which is a Christian, co-ed, liberal arts school.
The tour guides, who were probably students at the university, were excellent. They were very knowledgeable and enthusiastic. They knew the history of the house and of the family very well, and the way they told the Adelicia's story made her seem very real.
From Belmont we headed back toward Cedar Creek. On the way, we stopped for lupper at a Mexican restaurant located a short distance down the road from the campground called Cinco de Mayo. There were always a lot of cars there every time we passed, and they got pretty good online reviews.
We started off with traditional corn chips and salsa.
Cinco de Mayo has lunch specials for about $5 to $7 and dinners for around $7 to $13. We both had a combo platter with a taco, a chile relleno and a beef enchilada that also included rice and refried beans for $8.25.
We thought the food at Cinco de Mayo was only average. The cheese they used was excellent, but the beef in the taco, enchilada and chile relleno was a little bland and needed salt. The salsa had pretty good flavor, but it was a little runny. We also like more cilantro in our salsa.
The weather forecast was calling for an 80% chance of rain on Tuesday, so we planned to hang around the campground. We had more activities scheduled for the remainder of our stay in the Nashville area, so stay tuned.