T H E   H E R M I T A G E

Heaven will be no heaven to me if I do not meet my wife there --General Andrew Jackson

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

explored by: Shady & She-Devil

When I found out I would be taking a road trip to Tennessee with my aunt, I immediately wondered what kind of weird-lost-spookiness I could find to explore up there. And when my aunt suggested we explore the Hermitage, I had no idea what the place was, so I didn't know if it would be Lost Destinations material, or what. But I have to say, I'm so glad we went because this place was really something, and most definitely right up the 'ol LD alley...

Andrew Jackson was a general in the American Revolution (1780-1781), and was elected the seventh President of the U.S. 1828. The Hermitage was Andrew Jackson's family home; it's been preserved and it still looks much the same today as it did back when he lived there, so it's like walking right into a really cool bit of living history. All of the tour guides dress in clothing from that period so it's weird to see them wandering the grounds, makes you feel like you've done the time warp (again). It's even a bit spooky considering that this place is purported to be haunted by Jackson's wife Rachel and even Andrew Jackson himself...

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

In 1804 he purchased this gorgeous Tennessee property (425 acres) for $3,500... what a steal, eh?? (The farm eventually grew to cover 1,050 acres!) And lemme tell you, it's a really beautiful place, lush and green. The house itself is incredible. And I really dug the cool guitar-shaped carriage drive!! (Jackson designed it as he was apparently a real music aficionado... in fact, there were guitars and other musical stuff all over the inside of the house) From the front of the place we got a glimpse of the elaborate white-picket-fenced garden, where Jackson's Tomb (and the stones of a small family cemetery) stand out among the neat rows of blossoms and fronds.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

We did get to tour the house, but unfortunately taking photos inside of the house is not allowed, d'oh, so I wasn't able to get any shots to share. After the tour we headed out back, where we checked out the old smokehouse, and 'Uncle' Alfred's log cabin (above), which sits to the rear left of the house, near the garden/graveyard. Alfred was a slave who was born at the Hermitage; his mother Betty was the cook (Jackson owned approximately 150 slaves). Alfred decided to stay on at the Hermitage as a tenant farmer after his emancipation; in fact he lived at the Hermitage longer than anyone (white or black) and even worked as a tour guide once the house opened as a museum. Alfred died in 1901, his funeral was held inside the mansion and he was laid to rest in the Hermitage garden, right near Jackson's tomb.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

We took a stroll around the grounds; they were so damned green! Splashes of brilliant, fiery Tiger lilies dotted the landscape in every direction, and the dark glossy leaves of the blossoming Magnolia trees provided some welcome shade as we strolled. We slowly followed a path that led us to a small stone cabin next to a stream on the property (above). There used to be some kind of water-wheel-thingy or something in there that did something or other using the water from the adjacent stream. Or something. Heh. I just liked the fuzzy-mossy-green roof tiles. They were very Hobbit-y.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

Next to the stone cabin was a bigger wooden cabin called 'Cabin By The Spring' (above). That would prolly be 'cause, um, it's right by the spring. Yeah. Anyway, this one was constructed much later than the other structures and is used as a meeting place for various functions. Nearby, a quaint little bridge spanned the stream and crossed over into the tangle of trees and an area with some nice walking trails.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

From down near the stream, the mansion and garden were visible across a verdant field speckled with teeny white flowers. Ooh purty! We headed back, watching the huge Greek columns at the back of the house loom higher and higher at our approach. 'Old Hickory'- as Jackson was known- was fascinated by Greek culture; there are columns everywhere, the walls of the mansion's center hall are decorated with scenic imported French wallpapers that depict an epic tale from Greek mythology, and the garden tomb that he and his wife are buried in was designed as a Grecian “temple & monument” to his beloved wife, Rachel, who passed away decades before he did. He never stopped mourning for Rachel after her death.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

At the back of the house, we took a left, which led down a brick path to the garden gate. As soon as we walked into the garden we felt like we were in a tunnel of green; looking back we could barely even see the house. Jackson employed an English gardener to design this exquisite formal garden for his wife Rachel, which sits right alongside the mansion. Jackson doted on his wife, he was devoted to her and even killed a man named Charles Dickinson in an 1806 duel over a disparaging remark the man made about Rachel.

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

We wandered through mazelike paths of flower beds and intertwined trees toward the tomb and the cemetery. All of the garden's flora and fauna are still the same varieties that would have been found in the garden originally, and at one corner of the lovely garden was a small and very old family cemetery. Jackson's tomb sat alongside it, with husband and wife entombed side by side inside of the beautiful monument. The front columns of the mansion were just visible through the columns of the tomb. My aunt suggested that I pose in front of the tomb and we were joking about ghosts showing up with me in the photo and whatnot. Well, no ghosts appeared, but my skirt was lifted by a sudden upwards gust of wind just as my aunt snapped the shot! Sudden wind, or randy ghost.... hmmmm... you decide. *wink*

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

The Hermitage (Home of President Andrew Jackson), Hermitage, Tennessee

After leaving the garden, we wandered around the side and then the front of the mansion again. We glimpsed lights ablaze through one of the front windows and took a peek in, I was able to get a shot through the glass of the amazing blue dining room (too bad I couldn't get more shots inside though!) We lingered on the grounds until closing time. Although we didn't run into any ghosts, I took my usual last look back as we walked off down the sun-dappled path and through the last white picket gate, and saw the place strangely suspended back in time in the hot still air, as if  'Old Hickory' himself might come riding up the carriage drive on his galloping horse any second.

 For more history on Andrew Jackson and the Hermitage, visit www.hermitage.org (tell 'em Shady sent ya... *wink*!) ...and finally, here are some random snapshots from our weeklong stay in beeeeeautiful (and humid!!) Nashville, Tennessee:

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

above, l-to-r: a giant (at least hand-sized!) moth we found right outside our hotel room, an enigmatic message scrawled on a high window of an empty building in downtown Nashville, another shot of downtown Nashville (including the supposedly haunted Market Street Restaurant), and two shots from inside the legendary Legends Corner bar

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

Snapshots from Nashville, Tennessee

 above, l-to-r: the infamous 'Batman Building' (aka BellSouth Building), me and the King in downtown Nashville, the world-famous Ryman Auditorium (former home to the Grand Ole Opry), a colorful sunset as seen from inside the car while driving down  I-40, and a gathering storm over Tennessee's Percy Priest Lake

We had a great time in Tennessee, despite nearly being sucked away by a TORNADO (we had to take cover for nearly 2 hours in a roadside diner waiting it out, you can read all about it in  June 6 2004 entry of my journal if you're so inclined)

Do you have any background information or stories to tell about these historic sites?

 

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