The Hermitage was the home of President Andrew Jackson, the 7th President of the United States. It is now a public museum and is located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
When Andrew Jackson first bought the property in 1804, it was a 425 acre farm. It was mostly undeveloped and by the time he was President, it was a 1,000 acre cotton plantation.
The Nashville plantation was ran by an overseer who managed the land and slaves. Of the land, 400 acres were culivated with crops such as cotton, hay, oats, wheat, corn, and root vegetables. The 600 acres left had cattle, sheep, and hogs.
The plantation had it's own cotton gin and mill along with a blacksmith shop, and a spinning and weaving shop. All these jobs on the plantation had skilled African slaves to do the work. The total slave population at Jackson's death was nearly 150.
The first home at the Hermitage plantation was a two story log farmhouse. They lived in it from 1804 to 1821.
The Nashville mansion construction was started in 1819. It was a Federal style brick home, a style that was coming to an end of popularity. In 1831, the mansion was enlarged by adding a library and dining room wings. A fire caused significant damage to the mansion in 1834 and it was remodeled for the third and last time in a Greek revival style. The remodeling was complete in 1837.
The above picture shows what the back of the mansion looks like. Repairs are being made thru a government grant to keep the historic integrity of the mansion. The front view is blocked by trees and they are doing even more repairs to it.
The kitchen was a separate building from the mansion, but it was just off the back porch. This kept the heat out of the house, and you wouldn't be able to hear the kitchen noise. The food was brought into a food staging room in the house next to the dining room. The servants would transfer the food into fancy dining ware and serve it.
The building above is the spring house which covered the underground spring to prevent contamination. There were two springs on the property. This one was for the mansion and another was for the servants. The water was carried by pail to the mansion to supply their needs.
The picture above is the carriage that Andrew had bought for his trips to Nashville. It was a top of the line carriage to give the image of prosperity and Andrew was prosperous. The trip to Nashville took about 4 hours and the roads were rough.
In 1838, Andrew and his son decided to buy land in Mississippi because of the longer growing season for cotton and develop it into a cotton plantation. Slaves were sent down and an overseer managed the operation.
In 1838, Sarah's widowed sister, Marion and her children moved into the plantation. Andrew Jackson Jr. and wife Sarah and their three children along with Marion and her three children made the plantation a lively household during Andrew Jackson's retirement. The stream of visitors grew larger during Jackson's retirement years. Everyone from President Van Buren, President hopeful James K. Polk, to passing college students visited.
After Jackson's death in 1845, economic forces and bad business decisions was taking its toll on Andrew Jackson Jr. In 1856, he had to sell a portion of the plantation containing the mansion, to the state of Tennessee. The remaining land was sold to private owners.
Andrew Jackson Jr. had bought other plantations on the Gulf Coast, but with the war coming, leased the mansion and farm and moved back to Tennessee. The number of slaves at the plantation kept getting smaller due to a cholera epidemic, and after the surrender at Appomattox. Just a few days after the surrender, Jackson Jr. got hurt in a hunting accident and died of tetanus.
After the death of Andrew Jackson Jr. in 1865, his wife Sarah and remaining son Andrew III, were left to run the plantation. With the emancipation of the slaves, Sarah decided on subsistence farming. Tenant farmers and hire help farmed the land. A dairy farm was started and milk and butter was sold to supplement their income.
Andrew Jackson III married a schoolteacher, Amy Rich. They had two sons, Andrew IV, and Albert. Sarah's sister Marion died in 1877, and in 1887 Sarah Died. After Sarah's death, the State of Tennessee believed the obligation to the Jackson was complete.
Amy Rich Jackson, members of the Donelson family, and prominent Nashville women organized the Ladies Hermitage Association (LHA) in 1889. The state gave them the mansion and 25 acres to operate as a museum. The remaining property became the Tennessee Confederate Soldiers Home and a new dormitory was built to house them. In 1892 Andrew Jackson III and his family moved out of the Hermitage.
The LHA opened the mansion and garden to the public. The plantation has always been open to the public since before Andrew Jackson's death, and people felt free to visit. The dwindling number of Confederate veterans led to closing the home in the 1930's. In 1961, the National Park Service designated the plantation a National Historic Landmark. The Ladies Hermitage Association now manages the entire 1000 acres of Andrew Jackson's original plantation together with the Hermitage Church and Tulip Grove Mansion.
If you plan to visit the Hermitage take interstate 40 east of Nashville. Exit 221A will take you north on Old Hickory Boulevard to the large sign pointing to the Hermitage. From there you can't miss it. However if you have a GPS the address is 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage, Tn 37076-1331, or call 615-889-2941.