Ever since I was a child, I’ve loved old houses and been fascinated with historical sites and homes. I guess I get this mainly from my mom, who is a big history buff and loves to read about presidents and historical figures. Many of our family vacations would include tours of famous homes from American history or other iconic landmarks. And the design-lover in me loves to see the way these homes were decorated and hear the stories about and imagine the lives of the people who lived in these places! This week, I was able to go along with Lily’s 8th grade class to Nashville, and our first stop was The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson.
I’ve visited here a few times in the past, and thought I’d share a few fun highlights about this property that may be interesting to those of you who love this stuff like I do!
It was a very rainy day when we were there, so I borrowed a few better pics from different sited sources. And because photography is not permitted inside the house, I had to borrow those as well.
The front porch has grand and gorgeous columns which were not originally there when the house was first built. The whole front facade was added as a way to cover up smoke damage when the house was severely ravaged by fire in 1834.
We had fabulous tour guides, dressed in period dress who were very knowledgeable about the house and the grounds, sharing some of the interesting things I wanted to share with you about the decor.
My favorite decorative element in the house is this amazing French wall covering made by Joseph Dufour in France around 1825. It spans the entire first floor entry and even continues on the second floor. Although it looks like a painted mural, it’s actually paper made up of 18″ block-printed squares pieces together to portray a beautiful image of the Greek mythological story of Telemachus. The colors are amazing and the art is mesmerizing. I wish I had the pictures to show you more of it! Gorgeous. And the stair case!
Another striking space is the dining room in a gorgeous peacock color on the walls. The historian explained that the Jacksons were very hospitable and held a “Main Meal” at 3 o’clock each day for whatever guests that may have dropped by.
As we peeked into the different rooms, I couldn’t help but notice what looked like lots of marble on the mantels and on the baseboards. The guide explained that, like many of us now, the decorators wanted to achieve a classic, elegant look while saving money, so the marble is actually a faux finish! They used turkey feathers and sponges to apply paint to the wood to give it the look of marble. Sound familiar?
Unfortunately, photos of the “marble” are hard to find, but these are a few I pulled from the Hermitage site.
Even on a rainy day, the view from the top portico window upstairs is beautiful…
The other decor element I loved hearing about was the technique used on the doors in the house. Rather than opt for the rich taste of real mahogany, they used the lesser expensive wood of the state tree of Tennessee, the Tulip Poplar, and used a faux finish technique to replicate the grain of the mahogany. So creative!
Though there isn’t much blooming on the grounds at this time of year, the gardens around the Jackson tomb are still beautiful.
And here’s a little glimpse of the side of the house which shows the profile of the front facade against the brick sides.
This is truly a fun stop if you are visiting Nashville–especially if you appreciate historical homes. And now you know a few secrets of the decor that I recently learned! Of course this doesn’t scratch the surface of all the interesting things you’ll see and learn by visiting. Have you been to The Hermitage before? Be sure to check out their site here for location and more info!
*Note: this is not a sponsored post, nor affiliated with The Hermitage in an official way.