Belle Meade Plantation
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Belle Meade Plantation
|Location||5025 Harding Pike
|Nearest city||Nashville, Tennessee|
|Architectural style||Federal, Greek Revival|
|Governing body||The Association for the Preservation of Tennessee's Antiquities|
|NRHP Reference #||69000177|
|Added to NRHP||December 30, 1969|
Belle Meade Plantation, located in Belle Meade, Tennessee, is a historic plantation mansion whose grounds now function as a museum. It also currently serves as a wedding and event venue. Belle Meade Plantation consist of 30 remaining acres and features a winery, visitor's center, original outbuildings including the Harding cabin, dairy, carriage house, stable, mausoleum and a reconstructed slave quarters.
In 1807, Virginian John Harding bought Dunham's Station log cabin and 250 acres (100 ha) on the Natchez Trace. In the early years, Harding boarded horses for neighbors such as Andrew Jackson, and he was breeding thoroughbreds by 1816. John registered his own racing silks with the Nashville Jockey Club in 1823 and was training horses on the track at his McSpadden’s Bend Farm. He shipped grain to Charleston and New Orleans, and owned large tracts of land in Arkansas and Louisiana. In 1820, he began construction on a one-pile, five-bay house with hyphen wings in the Federal style.
In 1853, the house on Belle Meade was altered and enlarged into a double-pile, five-bay Greek-Revival style mansion by General William Giles Harding to reflect the success of the plantation. During this time, the Harding family prospered, building their domain into a 5,400-acre (22 km2) plantation that was renowned throughout the world for breeding champion Thoroughbred horses.
During the initial part of the Battle of Nashville, Confederate General James Chalmers used Belle Meade Plantation as his headquarters. Early on December 15, 1864, Union and Confederate forces skirmished in the front yard. Damage from bullets is still visible on the stone columns of the mansion house.
Following the Jackson brothers' deaths, adverse financial conditions forced an auction of the property at the beginning of the 20th century and the fourth generation of the Harding family moved off the property. The former plantation lands formed the independent city of Belle Meade, Tennessee.
In 1953, Belle Meade Mansion and eight outbuildings on 30 acres (120,000 m2) were deeded to the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, and is today managed by the Nashville chapter of the Association.