Historic Homes In Maury County, Tennessee
Known as the antebellum capital of Tennessee, Maury County is home to a president's childhood home, a rectory used by the head of an elite 19th century girls' school and two Civil War era plantations.
Maury County is known as the antebellum homes capital of Tennessee. The towns of Columbia and Spring Hill, which are about a hour's driving time south of Nashville, have four historic homes open to the public.
President James K. Polk's ancestral home, a two story painted brick house in downtown Columbia, is a National Historic Landmark. The 11th president lived here from 1818 to 1824 while he began his political career. This home exhibits his personal belongings from several homes, including the White House where he lived from 1845 to 1849.
One striking piece is a colored marble mosaic table with an American eagle bearing the arms of the US. One of the last gifts received before his death in 1849, its 30 stars represent the growth of the US under Polk's administration. During his term (1845-1849) the United States became a great continental power when it reached from coast to coast and increased by 552,568 square miles. Also on display are Polk's White House china and other fine porcelain, his law library, as well as Mrs. Polk's ball gowns and hand painted inagural fan.
The Atheneum Rectory, also in Columbia, is best known as one of the South's finest finishing schools for girls. Built in 1835, its first resident was Rev. Mr. Franklin Gillette Smith who came to Columbia to be rector at a girls' finishing school. In 1852 he started his own girls' school where females were offered the same courses as males, including physics and chemistry.
It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Unusual features for a home of that era include a French marble fountain in the front yard and colorful European flashed glass around the front door. The house contains three parlors and three bedrooms but no kitchen because Smith and his family always ate at the school.
Rattle & Snap, also in Columbia, got its unusual name because it supposedly was won by George Polk in a game of chance by this name. Nestled among rolling hills in a peaceful rural setting, this National Historic Landmark was built about 1845. It contains museum quality furnishings typical of a mid 19th century home. Beautiful gardens and an ice house, smoke house, and carriage house are on the grounds.
Lunch is served on the courtyard or verandah, weather permitting, or in a formal dining room. (Reservations are needed for groups of ten, dinner parties, and picnic lunches.) From April to October an interpretive farm tour showing plantation life during the 1840s is available.
Rippavilla Plantation was built in 1851 by Nathaniel F. Cheairs and is now restored to its 1860 splendor. Located in Spring Hill, which is now the home of the Saturn automobile plant, Rippavilla is deeply imbedded in Civil War history. Visitors can see heirlooms of the period in this classic Greek revival home.
Special events in Maury County include the Spring Tour of Homes in May, the Majestic Middle Tennessee Fall Tour during the last weekend in September, and the Tennessee Plantation Christmas Tour during the first weekend in December.