Uncover the secrets of the Belle Meade Plantation and embrace southern hospitality with samples of specialty wine. At the end of your experience at the Belle Meade Plantation, you’ll understand why it is one of America’s leading historic properties.
Your Tour of the Belle Meade Mansion
Upon arriving at the Belle Meade Plantation, you will be greeted by a tour guide dressed in a traditional 19th century costume. From the structural makeup of the home to the collections inside, your tour guide will lead you on an exciting adventure that explores the past and present of the Belle Meade Mansion.
History of the Belle Meade Plantation
The Belle Meade Plantation was founded in 1807 by John Harding, a prominent man in thoroughbred industry, but the Belle Meade house was not commissioned until 1820. Used as a breeding ground for thoroughbreds, the Belle Meade house served as a home to three generations of Hardings and Jacksons. It wasn’t until 1906 that a weak economy forced the families to sell the entire Belle Meade Plantation.
Architectural Features of the Belle Meade Mansion
While the original Belle Meade house was initially designed as a two story home, later additions to the property expanded the house and introduced the Greek-revival style that makes the Belle Meade the mansion it is today. Admire the trendy architectural styles of the 19th century; General Harding took pride in ensuring the latest architectural trends were incorporated into his house.
Discover the many cultures and people who lived, worked and visited the Belle Meade Plantation throughout its 200 years of existence.
Harding and Jackson Families
The Harding and Jackson Families were the original owners and managers of the Belle Plantation from the early 1800s until 1906.
Later Inhabitants at the Belle Meade Plantation
After the death of General Harding in 1903 and the financial problems among the remaining Hardings and Jacksons, the land that made up the Belle Meade Plantation was divided into different sections and sold off to various buyers.
African Americans worked as slaves for the owners of the Belle Meade Plantation and were responsible for the construction and the profitability of the plantation for nearly 100 years.
The 19th century mansion has seen many distinguished guests over the years; President Grover, Robert Todd Lincoln, T. Sherman, General Winfield Scott Hancock and Adlai E Stevenson are just some of the individuals known to pass through the southern home.
A Look Inside the Home
From personal letters and photographs to paintings and furniture, descendents of the Harding-Jackson family have returned authentic pieces to the Belle Meade Plantation for the past 50 years. Explore the Harding-Jackson families’ remarkable collection of beloved items that once made their house a home.
From old family photographs to notes written in engraved paper booklets, pieces of coin silver to trophies, priceless personal belongings can be seen throughout your tour of the Belle Meade home that will give you a personal look into the lives of the Harding-Jackson families.
Paintings of the Harding-Jackson families’ most priced thoroughbreds can be found hanging on the walls of the main entryway. Painted by renowned 19th century artists including, Edward Troye, Harry Hall and Henry Strull, take the time to appreciate the intricate details that can be found in each painting.
Authentic Southern pieces of handcrafted furniture complete the Belle Meade collection. Admire the craftsmanship of the cherry, federal secretary style bookcase located in the library and the sugar chest from the 1820s found in the family dining room. Rocco furniture can also be found throughout the mansion, acquired by Mrs. Harding from top manufactures of the time like Charles Lee and John Henry Belter.
The Belle Meade Plantation plays a significant role in the thoroughbred industry and the American scene to this day. Learn about equine operations of the plantation’s past and the bloodlines that have made the Belle Meade Plantation highly regarded among equine enthusiasts.
Leading the thoroughbred racing and breeding scene, the Belle Meade Plantation has welcomed many guest into its home and demonstrated its hospitality by sharing homemade wine. In 2009, the Winery at the Belle Meade was opened to uphold the longstanding tradition of Southern hospitality. Visit the winery and sample wines like Blackberry Wine made just like it was in the Old South, or the Red Muscadine, a true traditional Tennessee wine made with American grapes.
Whether you want to take something special home to remember your time at the Belle Meade Plantation, or something for a loved one, you’ll find the perfect gifts and souvenirs at the Belle Meade Plantation Gift Shop. Take home a tasty bottle of wine made at the Belle Meade Winery, or thoroughbred paraphernalia for the home.
Note: This attraction is wheelchair accessible.