America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
It's the home of the President whom many historians, for good or bad, compare to the current ribald Trump in the White House today. Yes, it's Andrew Jackson, the previously most charismatic, controversial, and off the cuff chief executive who was embroiled in duels, War of 1812 heroics, blamed for depressions, and lived in this stately home, known as the Hermitage, outside Nashville, Tennessee. Today you can still visit the grounds of Andrew and Rachel's home, learn about his history as President, as well as before and after, the many famous visitors who traversed the threshold of the Hermitage from that moment forward, and get a sense of what life was like in the 1830's during Jackson's heydey. There's the home itself to visit, cabins in the back, a slave history that makes a man shudder, and the portrait of the home of a man who may not have had a Trump Tower (think of that visit one hundred years from now), but had a Hermitage. Photo above: Hermitage drawing, 1830/1850, drawing by T. Birch, engraving by J.W. Street. Courtesy Library of Congress.
Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
The first structure to inhabit the Hermitage Plantation was not the stately white mansion above, but a cabin, known as First Hermitage, that graced the property built by the original owner, Nathaniel Hays between 1798 and 1800. Hays had a small farm with two slaves; his neighbor was Andrew Jackson. On July 5, 1804, Jackson had to sell his larger property, Hunter's Hill, to avoid bankruptcy, and bought the Hermitage land, four hundred and twenty-five acres, from Hays.
The Hermitage Mansion would be constructed from 1819 to 1821, after Jackson's successful foray in the War of 1812. It was a Federal style building that contained eight rooms. When later remodeled, it was expanded with two wings, adding five rooms to its total.
Photo above: Front of the Hermitage in current times, 2007, Jim Bowen. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Where Is It
The Hermitage historic site is located twenty minutes east, ten miles) of Nashville at 4580 Rachel's Lane, Hermitage, TN 37076. From East or West on I-40, you take Exit 221 (from the West) or Exit 221A (from the East), then Hickory Boulevard north. Look for signs to the site. They're on the right.
What is There Now
The Hermitage includes not only the mansion (with guided tour), but Audio Tour of the entire site, including the stories of the slaves, plus exhibits in the Visitor Center under the title Born for a Storm. There's also Alfred's Cabin, the Hermitage Garden, the Field Quarters, and the first Hermitage cabin to explore. How many acres? Around one thousand one hundred and twenty acres.
When are the Sites Open and How Much to Visit
The Hermitage is open year round, closed only on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Summer hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., slightly shorter in winter. Parking is free. Admission costs range from $10 for children 6-12 to Adults at $20. Under 6 free. This ticket includes access to the Visitor Center, grounds of the home and plantation, plus a guided tour of the mansion. A longer tour is available for $8 more.
Visiting the Hermitage in what is now the eastern suburbs of sprawling Nashville brings you near many other historic sites, not only those of Nashville proper (think country music and Reiman Auditorium plus Opryland just for two), but battles of the Civil War. In that vein, there's Fort Donelson, Franklin, and Stones River, just to name three, two of which are National Park Service battlefields.