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Another in the Plantation/Estate series - A digitally hand painted oil painting, from scratch - part of a larger painting which included the large stable. Rendered from my own original photographs.
Belle Meade Plantation Nashville Tennessee
Belle Meade Plantation, located in Belle Meade, Tennessee, is an historic plantation mansion whose grounds now function as a museum.
The "Queen of Tennessee Plantations" began in 1807 when Virginian John Harding bought Dunham's Station log cabin and 250 acres on the Natchez Trace. For the next 100 years, the Harding family prospered, building their domain into a 5,400 acre plantation that was world renowned as a thoroughbred horse farm. In the early years, Harding boarded horses for neighbors such as Andrew Jackson, and he was breeding thoroughbreds by 1816. He shipped grain to Charleston and New Orleans, and owned large tracts of land in Arkansas and Louisiana. In 1853 John Harding�s son, William Giles Harding, completed the mansion, doubling its size and adding the front porch and columns, which are solid limestone. The Belle Meade Plantation became a stunning example of the grandeur of the South's Greek Revival Antebellum architecture.
In 1853, the mansion was built by General William Giles Harding, son of the founder. During this time, the Harding family prospered, building their domain into a 5,400-acre (22 km2) plantation that was renowned throughout the world for breeding champion Thoroughbred horses.
The American Civil War brought deprivation and danger to Belle Meade. Harding was very wealthy, very pro-secession and donated $500,000 to the Southern cause. When the Federals occupied Nashville in February 1862, Harding was arrested and sent north to be imprisoned in Fort Mackinac, Michigan. His wife, Elizabeth McGavock, was left to tend the plantation. In September, Harding was released on parole and returned to Belle Meade. The Belle Meade Plantation was headquarters for Confederate Gen. James R. Chalmers of Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry command prior to the Battle of Nashville (December 1864). On the first day of the battle, Union soldiers burned the Rebel wagons parked at the racetrack while Chalmers was elsewhere. Returning to Belle Meade, Chalmers' men charged the Yankees and drove them back before running into an enemy infantry camp. The Yankees fired as the cavalry galloped back past the mansion, where Selene Harding, nineteen, waved a handerchief despite the bullets flying around her. Bullet holes can still be seen in the porch columns.
After the war, William Harding turned over control of the farm to his son-in-law, William Jackson, a West Point graduate who had commanded a cavalry division under Gen. S.D. Lee in Mississippi and Louisiana. During and after Reconstruction, Belle Meade's reputation as a first-class breeding establishment attracted buyers from around the world for the annual yearling sales. Under Jackson's tutelage, Belle Meade (French for "beautiful meadow") became an internationally renowned thoroughbred farm and showplace. The farm sold breeding stock of ponies, Alderney cattle, Cotswold sheep, and Cashmere goats. The vast estate also featured a 600-acre deer park. Under the management of Hardin's sons-in-law, brothers William Hicks Jackson and Howell Edmunds Jackson, Belle Meade Stud flourished. Following the Jackson brothers' deaths, adverse financial conditions forced an auction of the property at the beginning of the 20th century and the fourth generation of the Harding family moved off the property. At its sale in 1904, Belle Meade was the oldest and largest thoroughbred farm in the United States.
In 1953, Belle Meade Mansion and eight outbuildings on 30 acres (120,000 m2) were deeded to the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, and is today managed by the Nashville chapter of the Association.
Belle Meade Plantation was one of the largest and wealthiest private estates in Nashville in the 1800s. Guided tours of the beautifully restored mansion encompass both the first and second floors of the fully furnished historic structure. Visitors will not see velvet ropes or glass walls on the tour, giving them a fully accessible view of the exquisite collection of original and period pieces.
At the height of its success, the grounds of Belle Meade Plantation covered 5,400 acres. Today, while the property is limited to 30 acres, visitors will find a variety of areas to explore. For example, the original cabin from 1807 is still on-site today. A massive carriage house and stable built in 1892 houses one of the most impressive carriage collections to be found. Walking into the beautifully restored slave cabin will give any visitor a sense of another time and place.
MCN :: CN6QM-RQJWU-A3L8B
May 19th, 2012
Viewed 293 Times - Last Visitor from Columbia, SC on 12/08/2013 at 6:57 PM