Nothing stirs emotion quite like visiting a Civil War-era home – where generals planned strategies, Confederate women prepared meals for Union leaders, and soldiers, mortally wounded, breathed their final breaths. These homes in Tennessee allow a brief moment of time travel; the stories unfold as you walk explore.
Blount Mansion in Knoxville was built by William Blount, North Carolina's House of Commons member and delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787. The house is made of sawn lumber per the request of his wife, Mary Blount. She wanted a "proper" wood home. The kitchen, though recreated, is on the original site. The governor's office is a replica of a typical 1790s office.
Ramsey House Plantation is set on 101.5 acres in Knoxville. It was built by Thomas Hope for Francis Alexander Ramsey, a member of one of the first families to settle in Knoxville, in 1797. Admire the woodwork details found throughout the home, a preserved piano forte and period-piece dolls.
Smyrna is famous for the Sam Davis Home and Plantation, the original 1850s home settled on a 160-acre farm that continues to grow cotton. Sam Davis was from an upper middle class family. He enlisted in the Civil War and became one of "Coleman's Scouts," working behind enemy lines, retrieving Union information and disrupting communication between Union troops. He was captured and charged by the Union as a spy where, ultimately, he was hanged. The Sam Davis Home and Plantation is its original 1850s structure. Get a glimpse of authentic craftsmanship from the floors, woodwork and doors.
Nashville's Belle Meade Historic Site & Winery has a cherry wood, cantilevered staircase, limestone pillars and ruby glass transom above the front door all thanks to Williams Giles Harding who redesigned John Harding's 1820 home. Harding also had a thriving Thoroughbred stud farm and nursery with equine bloodlines still connected to famous racers today. The Belle Meade Winery, Nashville's first, was founded in 2009 and offers a variety of experiences like a wine and food pairing which features five wines with light food. Stroll to the 1820s Ice House for a Belle Meade Bourbon tasting which includes the history of the Revolution through Prohibition while you sip on mini cocktails.
One of Nashville's well-known plantations is The Hermitage, President Andrew Jackson's home. Before it became Jackson's, the land was bought by Nathaniel Hays in 1780 then later sold to the future president. Jackson, his wife and family transformed the property into a 1,000-acre plantation, building a Federal-style home from 1819-1821. The Hermitage contains a library, farm office, copper gutters and a two-story entrance portico with Doric columns.
Though Davies Manor Plantation in Bartlett may seem modest, but it is still worth touring. It is unknown who originally built the log cabin. However, Joel W. Royster made additions when he bought the land in 1831 – 1837. He added a breezeway, two-story bedroom area and a dining room was added in the 1860s. A well house, slave cabins and commissary are available for tours on the grounds.
Cherry Mansion in Savannah was originally built by David Robinson as a wedding gift to his daughter and her husband, W.H. Cherry in 1830. When the Civil War broke out, Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant used the mansion as his headquarters. It's said that Grant received information the Battle of Shiloh had begun as he was sitting down to breakfast. He rushed outside and could hear gunfire from the back porch of Cherry Mansion. For tour reservations please call 731-607-1208.