Results 1-2of 2 Reviews
December 28, 2009
From journal Christmas in Nashville
October 26, 2004
and hear the story of the woman who was the driving force behind it. I think most modern women believe that we are the first generation of women to be in control of our own destiny. Well, someone forgot to tell Adelicia that she wasn’t in control.
Born Adelicia Hayes in 1817, the daughter of a prominent Nashville judge, she married Isaac Franklin, 28 years her senior, when she was 22. She was a widow before she was 30—a very wealthy widow. She managed her own money and her own estates. When she married her second husband, Joseph Acklen, he had to sign a marriage contract. She retained full control of her fortune. Joseph became her manager and tripled her fortune in 10 years.
Together they began the building of Belle Monte in 1849. Built in the Italianate style, it had extensive gardens, which Adelicia opened to the public. At the time, Nashville had no public parks. In 1859, they decided to enlarge Belmont. The back porch was enclosed and it became what is now the Grand Salon. The room is 22 feet long with a barrel-vaulted ceiling. You can still see the shutters on the windows in the salon on the inside wall where the rear of the house previously was. You have to consider that this 19,000-square-foot house was only a summer home. Their main residence was in Louisiana.
With the arrival of the Civil War, many fortunes in the South were lost. Adelicia sent her husband Joseph to Louisiana to protect their cotton crop. He sickened there and died. When word reached her that the Confederates were going to burn her cotton to keep it from the Yankees, she packed up and went down herself. With some wheeling and dealing, she got both sides to help her get her crop to England. She made $900,000, which she left in England until the end of the war. Needless to say, her wealth in the face of others’ poverty didn’t make her popular. She went on a grand tour of Europe and let things cool down. She acquired some fine pieces of sculpture in her travels, and they are still in the house today. About 40% of the art in the house is original and 30% of the furniture.
She did remarry for a third time, not as happily, and in the end, she managed her own affairs. Of the 10 children she bore, only four grew to adulthood.
The house is beautiful and you will enjoy your tour, but the real attraction here is Adelicia Hayes Franklin Acklen Cheatham. One can only imagine that if she had lived in our own time, she would be a CEO or maybe even the president. She managed so much in a time when most women didn’t.
There is a small, charming store at the house.
From journal Nashville- City of Dreams