Begin your visit here with a stop at their award-winning Craig Center. It will provide background information on John Overton, one of the founders of Memphis, and it will give you a timeline of his home here in Nashville. Travelers Rest is the oldest home in Nashville that is open to the public.
In an attempt to keep the property viable, a meeting venue has been added where many wedding receptions are held each year. It provides 60% of the necessary income to maintain this historic property. The entrance fee is $8, and three to four thousand people visit here annually.
The house was built in 1799. They now know that it was built atop an Indian village. Excavations on the property have been prohibited to preserve the site. Artifacts discovered in the past are on display both in the information center and in the home.
This is the type of house that I enjoy visiting. It is not really a mansion, though it is by no means a small house. It is the home of a successful judge and farmer. You are taken through the house by one of the costumed guides. Ours was very friendly and gave us lots of tidbits about the family and the history of the house. The parlor is formal, but the rest of the house was built with comfort in mind. The judge had his office in his bedroom, and he even ate his meals there. The original house had only four rooms. In 1808, two additional rooms were added. In 1816, a kitchen building was added, and in 1828, the porch was closed in to connect the kitchen to the house. The original property was 2300 acres, and the inventory shows that there were 50 slaves.
John Overton didn’t marry until he was 54. He married a widow with five children. Previously, his law clerks had lived in the house, but at this point, they had to move to other buildings on the estate. There had to be a redesign of the stairway to the second floor; up until this time, the stairs had been on the exterior of the house. This kept the clerk from going through the house to get to their rooms.
John Overton was a friend of Andrew and Rachel Jackson. Actually, as a law clerk, he had lived with Rachel and her first husband. They were frequent guests at each other’s homes.
The formal sitting room has many pieces of furniture that are original to the house. There is also a glass said to have been used by the judge to toast the Marquis de Lafayette. In the men’s sitting room, there is a display of Indian artifacts.
During the Civil War, the Battle of Nashville was fought right on the property. The Confederate generals used the house as their headquarters.
There is a small garden that can be visited.