Nashville's Best Historical Homes

Learn about local history at these grand mansions

Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

No trip to Nashville would be complete without a visit to one of its many historical homes. From log cabins to castles to plantation mansions, you'll learn a lot about how people lived during earlier times. Architecture buffs will be fascinated by different styles such as Greek Revival, Italianate, and Moorish-Gothic. You can even see the home of a U.S. president: The Hermitage, owned by President Andrew Jackson. The following is a list of some of the best historical homes and mansions that Middle Tennessee has to offer, all within an hour's drive of Nashville.

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    122 S. 12th St.
    Nashville, TN 37206
    615-228-7649

    The beautiful Ambrose House is a Victorian charmer with crown molding, brick, copper, warm woods, and 12-foot ceilings. Architect Hugh Cathcart Thompson designed the house and is most famous for designing the historic Ryman Auditorium, which opened as a church in 1892 but in 1943 became the home of country music's Grand Ole Opry radio show.

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    808 Athenaeum St.
    Columbia, TN 38401
    931-381-4822

    Located in Columbia, Athenaeum Rectory was completed in about 1837 and is known for its Moorish-Gothic architecture. It served as the rectory for the family of Rev. Franklin Gillette Smith, headmaster of a girls' school. After the last member of the Smith family to live there died in the 1970s, the home was donated for use as a museum.

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    Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    110 Leake Ave.
    Nashville, TN 37205
    615-356-0501

    Belle Meade Plantation, founded in 1807 by John Harding, started with just one log cabin on 250 acres. In 1845, he commissioned the building of the Greek Revival mansion, which was home to five generations. The grounds now cover 5,400 acres and, in addition to the mansion, include a horse farm, dairy, mausoleum, gardens, and carriage house. After the tour, enjoy a free wine tasting, get a bite in the restaurant, and visit the gift shop.

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    Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    1900 Belmont Blvd.
    Nashville, TN 37212
    615-460-5459

    T​he Belmont Mansion, built in Italianate style, was completed in 1853 and served as a temporary headquarters for the Union Army during the Civil War, as well as an all-girls college and seminary. With 19,000 square feet and 36 rooms, the house is Tennessee's largest house museum and one of the most elaborate Southern antebellum homes.

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  • 05 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    705 Caldwell Drive
    Goodlettsville, TN 37072
    615-859-3678

    Also known as the Bowen–Campbell House, the Bowen Plantation House, circa 1787, is located in Goodlettsville at Mansker's Station. The two-story, Federal-style house is the oldest brick house in Middle Tennessee and was the frontier home of Capt. William Bowen, an American Revolutionary War veteran.

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    Photo Credit: Buchanan Log House

    2910 Elm Hill Pike
    Nashville, TN 37214
    615-875-4571

    The Buchanan Log House is a two-story house built in 1807 from chestnut logs and has poplar floors and limestone fireplaces. James Buchanan built the home and lived here with his wife and 16 children. Also nearby are the Addison House, a crafts cabin, and the James Buchanan Cemetery. 

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    Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    1345 Eastern Flank Circle
    Franklin, TN 37064
    615-794-0903

    Carnton Plantation was built in 1826 by Randal McGavock, a former mayor of Nashville, and was one of the area's premier farms. In 1864 during the Civil War's Battle of Franklin, the home became a field hospital where hundreds of wounded soldiers were taken. The land near the family's cemetery became the final resting place for 1,500 Confederate soldiers killed during the battle. It's the country's largest privately owned military cemetery.

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    1140 Columbia Ave.
    Franklin, TN 37064
    615-791-1861

    Just a mile and a half from Carnton Plantation, the brick Carter House was built in 1830 and was occupied successively by three generations of the Carter Family. In 1864 during the Civil War, a Union Army general took possession of the house to be used as his headquarters during the bloody Battle of Franklin.

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  • 09 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    3831 Whites Creek Pike
    Nashville, TN  37207
    615-876-9999

    Cedarwood is a beautiful antebellum farm house built in 1835 that now serves as a wedding venue. The 50-acre estate is in the countryside just eight miles north of downtown Nashville.

     

  • 10 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    1200 Forrest Park Drive
    Nashville, TN 37205
    615-356-8000

    Cheekwood is a limestone mansion completed in 1932 by the Cheek Family. The family's fortune came from investments in the Maxwell House coffee brand. The house is a great example of American Country Place Era Estate. Its 55 acres are now home to a botanical garden and art museum. Popular times to visit are during the spring when more than 100,000 tulips are in bloom and at Christmas when many holiday events are scheduled.

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    200  Cragfont Road
    Castalian Springs, TN 37031
    615-452-7070

    In 1786, Gen. James Winchester, a veteran of the War of 1812, began work on this log cabin. He named it Cragfont because of its location on a high, rocky bluff with a spring at its base. The home wasn't completed until 1802, and once it was, it was considered one of the grandest homes on the Tennessee frontier. Built in the late Georgian style, the house was built from limestone and poplar, walnut, ash, and cherry woods. It even had a second-floor ballroom.

     

  • 12 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    3777 Nolensville Pike
    Nashville, TN 37211
    615-833-1534

    The Croft House, built around 1810 by Col. Michael C. Dunn, is on the Grassmere Historic Farm and Nashville Zoo property. Originally built in the Federal style, it was converted to Italianate after its renovation following the Civil War. This is when the ornate front and back porches, smokehouse, kitchen, and three-tiered garden were added. This is a working farm with livestock, chicken coop, machine shed, and pastures.

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    740 Mooresville Pike
    Columbia, TN 38401
    800-380-1896

    Elm Springs, located near Columbia, is a two-story, brick house built in 1837 in the Greek Revival style by brothers James and Nathaniel Dick, wealthy cotton merchants from New Orleans. It was later the home of Confederate Lt. Col. Abram M. Looney during the Civil War and was set to be destroyed by fire by Union troops. Fires were started, but Confederate Brig. Gen. Frank C. Armstrong sent troops to put out the flames. The house is currently the headquarters for the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

  • 14 of 30
    Photo Courtesy of Falcon Rest

    2645 Faulkner Springs Road
    McMinnville, TN 37110
    931-668-4444

    Falcon Rest is a 10,000-square foot Victorian mansion in McMinnville built in 1896 by Gorilla Pants manufacturer Clay Faulkner. The brick house features electricity, central heat, and indoor plumbing, causing PBS to liken it to the impressive Biltmore Home in North Carolina. The house was used as a hospital from the 1940s until 1968. Today it features a Victorian Tea Room and gift shop. 

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    205 Old Spencer Mill Road
    Burns, TN 37029
    800-305-7417

    Gordon House, built in 1818, was one of the first brick homes built within a 30-mile radius of Natchez Trace near Williamsport. The Georgian-style structure was built on Chickasaw land and was the main house on a 1,500-acre plantation featuring a trading post and ferry over Duck River. Its owner, Capt. John Gordon, served under Confederate Gen. Andrew Jackson and was known to be a fierce Indian fighter. He was also Nashville's first postmaster.

  • 16 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    4580 Rachel’s Lane
    Hermitage, TN 37076
    615-889-2941

    The Hermitage mansion was the home of President Andrew Jackson, who lived here from 1804 until his death in 1845. In 1889, it opened as a museum and has become one of the most visited presidential museums with more than 15 million visitors.

    This National Historic Landmark on 1,120 acres was once a cotton plantation that relied entirely on the labor of African slaves. At the time of Jackson's death, he had owned 150 slaves. He is buried on the grounds alongside his wife, Rachel, who died in 1828. 

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    Tour reservations are required and limited to groups of 20 or more. Directions to the castle are given when reservations are made.
    931-967-8583

    Hundred Oaks Castle, located in Winchester, is one of only 13 remaining historic castles in the United States and is considered one of the world's most romantic. Built as a plantation farm house by railroad tycoon Benjamin Decherd in the 1830s, the castle was once home to  Albert Marks, a governor of Tennessee and a relative to Thomas Jefferson. For more than 50 years, it was a monastery. In 1990, a fire thought to be set by an arsonist ripped through the castle. You can tour 30 of the castle's rooms and two of its towers.

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    Photo Courtesy of the Lotz House Foundation

    1111 Columbia Ave.
    Franklin, TN 37064
    615-790-7190

    Lotz House Museum, built in 1858 by German carpenter and piano maker Johann Albert Lotz, lies where the 1864 Battle of Franklin took place during the Civil War. The home was a way for Lotz to showcase his beautiful handiwork to attract potential clients.

    The house is now a museum of the material culture of Union and Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War. It has the largest and most comprehensive collection of War Between the States and Old West artifacts in the Mid-South.

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    900 N. Maney Ave.
    Murfreesboro, TN 37130
    615-893-0022

    Oaklands Mansion, circa 1818, just north of Murfreesboro, was built by Sallie Murfree, daughter of Col. Hardee Murfree, and her husband Dr. Maney. Originally a two-room, brick house, later additions in both Federal and Italianate styles made this one of the most elegant homes in Middle Tennessee. The land served as a cotton and tobacco plantation. Guests included Confederate President Jefferson Davis and First Lady Sarah Childress Polk, wife of President James Polk.

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    Courtesy Tennessee Department of Tourist Development

    301 W. 7th St.
    Columbia, TN 38401
    931-388-2354

    The James K. Polk House, a brick Federal-style house, was built in 1816 for James K. Polk's father, Samuel, and is the only surviving home of America's eleventh president. James K. Polk lived here with his parents from after his college graduation in 1818 until his marriage to Sarah Childress in 1824. Polk's possessions at the house include furniture, paintings, clothing, and White House china. Before becoming president, Polk was a U.S. Congressman, Speaker of the House, and governor of Tennessee.

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    Photo Courtesy of Rattle & Snap

    Andrew Jackson Highway (TN 43)
    Mount Pleasant, TN 38474
    931-379-1700

    Rattle and Snap Plantation, circa 1845, is one of the country's best examples of residential Greek Revival architecture. The property was named Rattle and Snap after William Polk won the land from the North Carolina governor in a game called rattle and snap. The home features beautiful craftsmanship featuring limestone bricks, 10 portico columns, four porches, and 10 Corinthian columns. Talented slave artisans built the house.

     

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    5700 Main St.
    Spring Hill, TN 37174
    931-486-9037

    The two-story brick mansion at Rippavilla Plantation was completed in 1855 by Nathaniel F. Cheairs IV. Every wall in the house is three bricks thick. In 1920, electricity and plumbing were installed and the kitchen and smoke house were attached to the home.

    During the Civil War, both Union and Confederate generals used the mansion as their headquarters, and this is where Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood drew up his plan for the bloody Battle of Franklin in 1864. In 1985, the Saturn car company leased the property. The city of Spring Hill now owns Rippavilla.

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    1833 Welcome Lane
    Nashville, TN 37216
    615-228-8892

    Riverwood Mansion was built by Irish immigrant Alexander Porter, who owned a lot of commercial property in the area. Built in the late 1790s and at 9,200 square feet, this Greek Revival-style house is one of Nashville's oldest and largest. The home has hosted seven U.S. presidents. Today it's a wedding venue.

  • 24 of 30
    Photo Copyright: State of Tennessee

    139 Rock Castle Lane
    Hendersonville, TN 37075
    615-824-0502

    Rock Castle is a limestone Federal-style structure on 18 acres next to Old Hickory Lake in Hendersonville, Tenn. It was built by Revolutionary War Gen. Daniel Smith in the late 1700s. Smith, a surveyor from Virginia, was a two-time senator and also named the state of Tennessee.

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    810 S. Water Ave.
    Gallatin, TN 37066
    615-451-2331

    Rose Mont was established as a 500-acre thoroughbred horse and longhorn cattle farm. Built between 1836 and 1842 by Josephus Conn Guild, the mansion features a blend of Creole and Palladian design. The Creole influence can be seen in its large windows, open-air halls, separate wings, extended roof, and wide porches. The main facade is Italian Palladian design. Its name comes from the property's rose gardens. Today Rose Mont consists of only six remaining acres, is surrounded by a residential neighborhood, and is owned by the city of Gallatin.

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    Photo Credit: Sam Davis Home

    1399 Sam Davis Road
    Smyrna, TN 37167
    615-459-2341

    The Sam Davis Home was built between 1810 and 1820 by the father of Confederate Civil War hero Sam Davis. The two-story house lies on a cotton plantation and is characteristic of a Southern, upper middle-class family. The home has nine rooms, its original kitchen, a smokehouse, office, and privy. Four slave cabins were relocated to the property to teach about life as a slave on Southern plantations. Located in Smyrna, the house is on 168 acres along the banks of Stewarts Creek.

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    101 McClure St.
    Clarksville, TN 37040
    931-648-9998

    Smith-Trahern Mansion is located north of Nashville in Clarksville where it has overlooked the Cumberland River since 1859. Built by Christopher Smith, a wealthy tobacconist, the house is both a Greek Revival and Italianate design. Highlights include grand hallways, a curved staircase, and a widow's walk on the roof. Slave quarters are the only remaining outbuildings. During World War II, the house served as temporary housing for soldiers. The mansion is rumored to be haunted by one its original owners, Mrs. Smith.

     

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    Photo Courtesy of Spring Haven Mansion

    1 Spring Haven Court
    Hendersonville, TN 37075
    615-826-9702

    Spring Haven Mansion is a circa 1825 plantation home that sits on a beautiful three-acre property in Sumner County. It includes a log cabin, smokehouse, springhouse, screened-in porch, patio, and barn. It was built at about the same time as President Andrew Jackson's The Hermitage, and many items in both houses are similar.

     

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  • 29 of 30
    Copyright Jan Duke
    ••• © Jan Duke

    636 Farrell Parkway
    Nashville, TN 37220
    615-832-8197

    Travellers Rest Plantation, circa 1799, was the former home of Judge John Overton and his family for more than 140 years. The mansion served as the headquarters for Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood just prior to the Battle of Nashville during the Civil War. Today the museum includes exhibits covering the history of the Cumberland Basin area, Native American settlements, the Civil War, and slavery.

     

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    Photo: Credit Metro Parks

    3130 McGavock Pike
    Nashville, TN 37214
    615-885-1112

    The stately Italianate Two Rivers Mansion built in 1859 by David McGavock has been restored to reflect the splendor of the 1870s. The 14-acre property also includes a small Federal-style brick home built in 1802. At one time, it was home to livestock, a dairy operation, fox hunting, and a horse-breeding facility. Many of the estate's 50 outbuildings were destroyed by a tornado in 1933. Now owned by the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, you'll also find two schools, a golf course, water park, skate park, and picnic areas here.