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Good For Kids

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entrance drive with mansion in the background
Photo Credit: guyonthego

Belle Meade Plantation

110 Leake Avenue Nashville, Tennessee 37205
Open 9:00am-5:00pm Monday-Saturday and 11:00am-5:00pm on Sunday
615-356-0501 2 hours
August 2011 All year
$10-29 Nashville Tennessee
Website Historical Homes
First review
Belle Meade Plantation, which means beautiful meadow, is a 33 acre 19th century mansion and grounds once part of a larger plantation and racehorse facility. The main house is can be seen via a 45 minute guided tour, and the rest of the property can be seen on one's own. In addition to the mansion, there is a historic cabin, replica slave cabin, family mausoleum, stables, a wine tasting shop and restaurant.

A 250 acre farm was purchased here in 1807 by John Harding who had moved from Virginia. Harding built the farm into a 3,800 acre plantation. Construction of the current mansion was completed in 1853 by Harding’s son William Giles Harding. After the Civil War, William and his relatives became very successful breeding racehorses. However, following an economic depression in 1893 and due to mounting debt, the horse operation was ended. Assets were sold off, and family descendants moved away. In 1953 the mansion was sold to a preservation association and then opened to the public the following year.

Mansion tours sometimes sell out on weekends, so visiting early on weekends is a good idea. A wine tasting is included with the price of admission. There was not enough time to try the wine or the restaurant but both seemed popular. The house tour focuses on the Harding family and racehorse breeding. An interesting horseracing tidbit is that the recent Kentucky Derby winners can trace their bloodline to Belle Meade stock. About 70% of the house furniture is original to the family and the rest is 19th century period. No pictures were allowed in the house, but it was tasteful with colorful wallpaper and well crafted furnishings such as canopy beds and wrought iron chandeliers. The foyer had many pictures of racehorses. The outbuildings can be seen quickly and were not especially notable. A rebuilt slave cabin had decent information on slave life. As historic homes go, this was about average. Belle Meade provided a reasonable perspective of Southern plantation life, but, with a possible exception for horseracing fans, it would not be considered a must see, and it's not a good choice for kids.
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