One of the best ideas I ever had was to make themes for my travels. I have four or five themes, but this particular trip falls under visiting all of our President’s homes and/or libraries. I have been blessed to have visited several over the past few years and I wish I had taken more care to document each visit with photographs.
My trip to The Hermitage was actually just an unexpected treat while on a trip to Nashville. I had not intended to tour the old Plantation home of #7, as Presidents are known today. I had been asked to travel to Nashville for a job interview and I had to stay over. I had some time before my flight home so I called the Historic Society and asked them which historic site I should not miss. They suggested that while I was there that I should visit the famous historic site, the home of President Andrew Jackson. I was not disappointed. I was enchanted with the beautiful grounds, the primary school age docents, and the gift shop and cafeteria, all of which made for an incredibly enjoyable short day trip. I spent about three hours at the Hermitage, which was more than enough time to see all of the historic sites, browse the books in the gift shop, and have a little lunch. I spent quite a bit of time in the beautiful gardens. The flowers were blooming and provided me with a spectacular display of color and amazing shapes that I could not help but photograph in great detail.
Jackson was born on March 15, 1767 along what was then the border of North and South Carolina and known as Waxhaws. Young Andrew would come of age during the Revolutionary War and he was the only American President to be a veteran of both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. Jackson became President in 1829 and his term ended in 1837. An interesting fact about Jackson: Jackson often quarreled with folks, but one such quarrel led to Jackson challenging a man to a duel. Jackson took a shot to the chest, and although he had been seriously wounded, he was still able to fire a shot into his opponent, killing him. Jackson was wounded once more by a bullet during a fight with a different man. Both bullets remained lodged in his chest until his death, which, ultimately, was the cause of his death: lead poisoning from those two bullets.
Once you arrive at the Hermitage, there is a half mile ride through some of the most beautiful country.
There are cattle and horses along the way and gorgeous tree lined roads. Once you arrive at the home, the site is easy to navigate. There are paved paths from site to site throughout the historic home, but to get to the farther distance sites (slave cabins, etc.), the paths are dirt. I would say if someone was in a wheel chair they would need the aid of someone to push them, but a motorized cart could make the trip to the back country pretty easily as the paths are pretty flat.
Your visit to The Hermitage provides you with a one-and-a-half hour guided VIP tour. This tour includes both the Mansion and the grounds. The VIP tour allows your small group to access the mansion balcony, which provides breathtaking views of the land Jackson loved. The cost for the VIP tour is $50 per person.
The General’s Tour is $20 per adult, $17 for Seniors, $15 for teens, and $10 for children 5-12 years of age. This tour provides access to the grounds, the mansion, and the exhibit gallery. Also included is the interpreter-led tour of the mansion. You are able to visit the Andrew Jackson’s Visitor Center, and a self-guided tour of the farmland that was once the Hermitage Plantation.
When I visited, a really fun way to see the farmland was by horse drawn cart. The ride was smooth and made the trip very enjoyable. There is also a self-guided tour where audio devices are provided. They also show images that provide you with visuals of whom and what is being discussed.
This is a very pro-Jackson historic site, of course, and at times the stories they tell contradict historians who tell another version of Jackson’s temperament and behaviors toward his land and his slaves. You learn quite a bit about his love story with his beloved Rachel and how her death impacted his life. Jackson is buried in the gardens and there is a very lovely memorial dedicated as his final resting place. One of the more disappointing historic facts is that Jackson was very fond of his personal man servant (and enslaved man known as Uncle Alfred). In Jackson’s last will and testament, he asked that Alfred be buried next to him in his final resting place. This was not honored. Although Uncle Alfred has a small headstone and he is close by, I would not say he was “next to” Jackson.
The young docents are so sweet. Each pair is standing close by an artifact of life on the plantation. When you inquire what they are there to show you, the young docents embark on their memorized history and demonstrate how the item worked. They are well-spoken and mature for their ages and they are in full period costume. They add to the self-paced tour beautifully.
When you visit the Plantation part of the farmland, the tour guides present a story of well-treated slaves and visitors are told that they were “treated as part of the family.” While your walking around near the slave cabins, know that these are the same claims of most of the southern slave holders. Do not believe this. Read about Jackson and his treatment of the enslaved before you go. It is not a story I would consider well-treated.
Although the tour does not provide a totally truthful history of both the man himself and the treatment of his enslaved people, this is a wonderful place to go for the afternoon, maybe in spring time when the flowers are blooming in all their splendid glory. Just the gardens alone is worth the price of admission. The history you will learn and view is an added bonus.
Do not skip the bookstore and the cafeteria. The pulled pork sandwich is worth the trip to Nashville. There are so many great books to further your learning about President Andrew Jackson in the gift shop.
This is an old Plantation and mansion and should not be missed. Even as you spend lots of time touring the history of Country Music while in Nashville, make the quick side trip and visit the beloved home of #7.