One of my very favorite things about this season of life we’re in is the freedom Bjorn and I have to adventure together! Bjorn and I had a blast road tripping through the south back in July! Even though I did write a post on Andrew Jackson’s home, we visited a lot more than that! Today I’m sharing about our tour of Belle Meade Plantation in Tennessee. This place was definitely a favorite for us! We are fascinated with architecture and history, so touring a huge historical home is always rather incredible.
Since it was so fun to have my husband pop in for a brief history lesson in our post on The Hermitage, he’s here again on the blog today for a little blurb on Belle Meade’s history!
So before we proceed to more pictures, a note from the (literal 🙂 ) resident historian, Bjorn:
Belle Meade was a plantation in Tennessee. Just like many other plantations, this one had slaves. But unlike most plantations this one did not focus its efforts on cotton like the Hermitage, tobacco, or other cash crops of that nature. This plantation focused its efforts on breeding race horses. Belle Meade was created in the early 1820s along a well travelled Indian path known as the Natchez Trace trail. This put it in an excellent location for the plantation to grow early on. By the start of the Civil War the plantation had grown tremendously, and with the fall of the Confederacy came the freedom of all the slaves held in the south. Like many of the plantations, close to half of the former slave population decided to stay on as hired hands at Belle Meade. Belle Meade’s claim to fame, though, is their prized stud named Bonny Scotland. This stallion is directly related to every single horse that has run in the Kentucky Derby in the last 12 years! Yup, even American Pharaoh can trace his bloodlines back to that one horse who used to live on the plantation Belle Meade.
Pretty neat, isn’t it? I thought it was so different and interesting that Belle Meade focused on race horses! And that their prized stud is actually related to so many horses that have raced recently! Also, I should mention that Bjorn didn’t need to look up anything in order to write up this info on Belle Meade which kind of blew me away – honestly, there’s something special about a history teacher’s memory! 🙂
Whenever we tour a historical house (like on our trip to Monticello), I take the photos (if indoor photography is allowed) and Bjorn takes notes! He also draws really nice, accurate little sketches of the floor plan as we walk room by room. I absolutely love this curiosity we share together when we vacation or go on outings together! It truly is important to be a lifelong learner!
Oh, how I wish photos were permitted inside this gorgeous house! Just imagine a grand, main hall/foyer as you step in, and since symmetry was so prevalent back then, there are a couple rooms on the left and a couple rooms on the right. The lovely grand staircase curves around to the upper level at the far back of the main hallway. Even the electric lamps in the house were recalibrated to mimic the soft glow of gas lighting back then. You could just feel the history everywhere at Belle Meade: the good stories and the bad, the glory days and the difficult times. It all mingled together into a fairly magical tour.
Our guided tour actually concluded in the gift shop where they had a mini wine tasting and we ended up leaving with a couple bottles of (really good!) Belle Meade wine. (Bjorn and I mostly just like to collect bottles from trips significant to us, and these bottles have beautiful little portraits of different Belle Meade race horses on them so we decided to splurge!) People like to visit Belle Meade’s winery as well as have weddings on the property! How lovely does that sound?
Have you ever visited Belle Meade? What are your favorite historical homes to tour? We would LOVE to hear your suggestions and stories!