The Hermitage (Nashville, Tennessee)

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For the historic hotel, see The Hermitage Hotel.
The Hermitage
The Hermitage by Jim Bowen.jpg
The Hermitage
Location 4580 Rachel's Ln
Nashville, TN 37076
Coordinates 36°12′53.9″N 86°36′46.7″W / 36.214972°N 86.612972°W / 36.214972; -86.612972Coordinates: 36°12′53.9″N 86°36′46.7″W / 36.214972°N 86.612972°W / 36.214972; -86.612972
Area 350 acres (140 ha)[1]
Built 1835 (current form)
Architect Reiff & Hume
Architectural style Greek Revival
NRHP Reference # 66000722
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966
Designated NHL December 19, 1960[2]
Side view of the house

The Hermitage is a historical plantation and museum located in Davidson County, Tennessee, USA, 10 miles (16 km) east of downtown Nashville. The plantation was owned by Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States, from 1804 until his death at the Hermitage in 1845. Jackson only lived at the property occasionally until he retired from public life in 1837. It is a National Historic Landmark.

History[edit]

The plantation that Jackson named Hermitage was ideally located 2 miles (3.2 km) from the Cumberland and Stones rivers; the land was originally settled by Robert Hays, grandfather to legendary Texas Ranger John Coffee Hays and Confederate General Harry Thompson Hays in 1780. Hays sold the 420-acre (170 ha) farm to Jackson in 1804.[3] Jackson and his wife Rachel moved into the existing two-story log blockhouse, built to resist Indian attacks. After Jackson built the main house, it was disassembled and rebuilt as two one-story buildings used as slave quarters; a part of it still stands behind The Hermitage.[4] Initially Jackson operated the cotton farm with nine African slaves, but this number gradually grew to 44 slaves by 1820 as the farm expanded to 1,000 acres (400 ha). At its peak, the Hermitage held nearly 150 slaves.[5]

The original Hermitage mansion was a two-story, eight-room, Federal-style brick building built with skilled slave labor and completed between 1819 and 1821. In November 1828, Jackson was elected 7th President of the United States; however, his wife Rachel died the following month. In 1831, while Jackson was away in the White House, he had the mansion remodeled with flanking one-story wings (one with a library and the other with a large dining room and pantry), a two-story entrance portico with Doric columns and a small rear portico. Jackson also had a classicising “temple & monument” for Rachel's grave constructed in the garden. Craftsmen completed the domed limestone tomb with a copper roof in 1832. In 1834, a chimney fire seriously damaged all of the building with the exception of the dining-room wing. This prompted Jackson to have the current Greek Revival structure built, which was completed two years later. The carpenter contractors were Joseph Reiff and William C. Hume, who were constructing Tulip Grove across the road. The entry hall is decorated with block-printed wallpaper by Joseph Dufour et Cie of Paris, depicting scenes from Telemachus' visit to the island of Calypso.[6] Many of Jackson's furnishings and mementos are preserved in the house, which was guarded by Union troops during the Civil War, as it had been sold to the State of Tennessee by Andrew Jackson Jr. in 1856.

The tomb of Andrew and Rachel Jackson is located in the Hermitage garden.

On May 5, 1863, units of the Union Army, specifically those from Indiana, approached the grounds of the Hermitage. Pvt. Joseph C. Taylor wrote of the account in his diary.

In 1889, the Hermitage was opened to the public as a museum, both of Jackson's life and the antebellum South in general. Each year, the home receives more than a quarter million visitors, making it the fourth most-visited presidential residence in the country (after the White House, Mount Vernon, and Monticello). The property was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960.[1][2][8]

The tomb of Andrew and Rachel Jackson is located in the Hermitage garden.

It escaped a near-disaster during the 1998 Nashville tornado outbreak. An F-3 tornado crossed the property at approximately 4:00 p.m. CDT on April 16, 1998, missing the house and gravesite, but toppling many trees that had reportedly been planted by Jackson himself nearly 200 years earlier. Although the trees had once hidden the house from view of passers-by on U.S. Route 70, it is now in plain sight. Using the wood from the fallen trees, the Gibson guitar company produced 200 limited edition "Old Hickory" guitars. The first guitar produced was presented to the Smithsonian. It is not currently on display.[9]

U.S. Postage stamps depicting The Hermitage
2 cent, 1937 issue
4 1/2-cent, 1959 issue

The Hermitage as namesake[edit]

The area of Davidson County surrounding the Hermitage is known as Hermitage, Tennessee. A hotel named the Hermitage Hotel, located in downtown Nashville, Tennessee opened in 1910, and is still operating. Many celebrities and U.S. Presidents have spent time there.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The Hermitage was one of the filming locations and settings for the 1955 Disney film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.

The plantation is prominently featured in one of the opening scenes of F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941), when the narrator, Celia, visits it with two other characters.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Sarles, Frank B; Morton III, W B; Rettig, Polly M; McKithan, Cecil (1978-07-24). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory - Nomination Form - The Hermitage". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  2. ^ a b "National Historic Landmarks Program - The Hermitage". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  3. ^ Additional purchases of adjoining tracts increased the plantation to 640-acre (260 ha)
  4. ^ Ladies' Hermitage Association (1972). The Historic Hermitage Properties: A Handbook. Hermitage, TN. OCLC 379550. 
  5. ^ Warshauer, Matthew (Fall 2006). "Andrew Jackson: Chivalric Slave Master". Tennessee Historical Quarterly 65 (3): 205. JSTOR 42627964. 
  6. ^ Examples of this wallpaper are more often found in New England; the Hermitage paper must have been imported through New Orleans and shipped up the Mississippi River. (The Historic Hermitage Properties: A Handbook, p. 23.)
  7. ^ "Book #6 of Pvt. Joseph C. Taylor". Iamonia.bravehost.com. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  8. ^ Rettig, Polly M (September 1975). "National Register of Historic Places Property Photograph Form - The Hermitage". National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  9. ^ http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=Electric+Guitar
  10. ^ "The Hotel: Hotel History". TheHermitageHotel.com. 2003. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 

External links[edit]