Monday, October 5, 2015

Rippavilla Plantation in Tennessee

It was raining most of the time last week while we were in Tennessee.  We drove to our daughter Jessica's house in Brentwood, near Nashville, on September 26, 2015, to celebrate her birthday.  We did celebrate it on Sunday evening, eating barbecue in the backyard, the only time the weather was mild and dry.  The barbecue came from "Corky's Ribs and Barbecue."  Our other daughter, Celine, had taken us to the oiriginal Corky's restaurant in Memphis, TN, when we visited her there several years ago while she lived in Memphis. (Memphis restaurant shown below.)

As we were finishing our meal I observed the stunning sunset behind the trees.  This was the only sunset we saw while we were in Tennessee as it rained daily.

While we were in Tennessee my son-in-law made an appointment for me to see one of his friends, a knee doctor.  We drove to this doctor in Columbia, TN.  After the x-rays were taken, the doctor said that all the cartilage in my knees is gone and I need knee replacement.  He said that walking must be very painful - it is.  The doctor recommended that I see another specialist for my left foot which is also painful.  That doctor recommended surgery for my foot.  I have not been sick often but I have had several injuries at work in my knees and foot and arthritis has set in the joins.  Anyhow, while driving through the town of Spring Hill, TN, we saw an old mansion.  Since we were early for the doctor's appointment we stopped.  The name of the house was "Rippavilla Plantation."  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

There was a large open field with an historic marker.  It indicated that this was the site of a Civil War battle, the Battle of Spring Hill which took place on November 29, 1864.

Last year the Battle of Spring Hill sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) was commemorated with hundreds of re-enactors, cannons and gunfire. (Photos courtesy Rippavilla.)

 The Rippavilla Plantation leaflet indicates that "..during the Civil War, troops of both armies camped and fought battles on and near the plantation.  Both Union and Confederate generals used Rippavilla as their headquarters.  In the dining room on November 30, 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood outlined plans for the Battle of Franklin."  Thousands of Union and Confederate troops lost their lives in the Rippavilla fields but now the fields look peaceful and quiet.  However, paranormal investigations are hosted periodically at Rippavilla.  People have heard footsteps in the basement, banging doors, seen shadows, heard voices in some empty rooms and witnessed a doll and craddle moving on its own in the nursery ... The investigations are called "Whispers from the Past."

I think the old building below must have been a slave cabin, but it was sprinkling, the grass was wet and not easy for me to walk on, so I did not get close to read the sign.  I understand that before the Civil War 75 slaves resided at the plantation.

We drove close to the museum gift shop housed in the old carriage house, parked the car and went in.  There we read information about the plantation.  It has been restored to its 1860s appearance and contains many original period family antique pieces, family heirlooms and genuine Civil War artifacts.  However we were pressed for time, so we will visit the house interior in the future.  Rippavilla Plantation does not receive local, state or federal money for its expenses or upkeep, so I bought several souvenirs including postcards, a hand-made box containing a calligraphy pen (pictured on top and bottom of this post) and a small disk of wood.  A 400 years old oak tree fell during a heavy storm and small disks from it are offered for sale to benefit the plantation.  Here is my disk below (the initials SH mean Spring Hill.)  It must have been cut from a fallen branch.  Pictures of the tree courtesy Rippavilla Plantation.

The rain had stopped so we walked through the back patio to view the front of the house.

After passing through a wrought iron gate we saw another fountain and workers trimming a tree.

There certainly were some large old trees around the house.

Then we saw the front of the mansion.  This house was built in the 1850s by Nathaniel Cheairs for his family - his wife Susan McKissack Cheairs and their children.  Nathaniel was a Major in the Confederate Army.  He had voted against Secession during the Tennessee Referendum of 1861 but went ahead and joined his neighbors going to war (he was made prisoner twice) while his wife and children stayed home.  Below is a portrait of Nathaniel Cheairs and one of Susan and her daughter Sara.

The house was not destroyed during the war as it was used as a headquarters building.  Nathaniel Cheairs died in 1893 and his wife Susan in 1914, but the mansion stayed in the family until 1920.  This Greek revival plantation home still sits on its original 1,100 acres (445.15 ha.)

I wish we could have visited the interior of the house but we had an appointment to keep.  We walked around the house and I took several pictures - but it started sprinkling again, so we returned to our car in the back.

The plantation brochure states that their mission is to preserve, restore and interpret the buildings and grounds of the Cheairs' family in order to create a site to be used as an education institution.  During the year Rippavilla Plantation entertains several festivals, re-enactments, car shows, and can also be rented for weddings and special events.  (The following photos courtesy the plantation - remember to click twice on the collage to see better.)

Rippavilla Plantation is decorated at Christmas time.

It must be very pretty under the snow.

Below are some of the postcards I purchased and additional interior photos from the plantation as well as a photo of one of the docents who conduct tours.

Here is an interesting note that I found out - In the 1850s, William McKissack, a brickyard owner in Spring Hill, offered free bricks and free slave labor to build Rippavilla Plantation as a wedding gift to his son-in-law Nathaniel Cheairs.  Brothers Moses and Calvin McKissack, descendants of a former McKissack slave who had been a trained builder, formed one of Nashville's earliest architectural and engineering partnerships, McKissack and McKissack.  The firm was based in Nashville, TN, and is now based in New York City and Washington, DC.  It was the first African-American owned architectural firm in the US and is the oldest minority-owned architecture and engineering firm in the country.  Below is Moses McKissack, a photo of Sam Bond among children - a former slave then the plantation overseer after he gained his freedom, and an old photo in front of the house.

We did not stay long at this historic plantation, but we enjoyed learning about its past and were glad we had stopped.






26 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I am so sorry to hear about your knees and your foot. Surgery is always scary.
Loved the tour you took us on - and would really, really appreciate some of that rain.

Thérèse said...

C’est toujours avec plaisir que je lis les pans d’histoire sur votre blog. Cela transporte dans d’autres lieux, d’autres vécus, d’autres horizons, d’autres réalités.
Bon courage pour la suite à donner aux problèmes de genoux et de pied.

Things and Thoughts said...

Another interesting tour I fully enjoyed. I'm sorry about your health problems but I'm sure everything will soon be ok.Family gatherings offers so much satisfaction and joy...Be surrounded by your beloved ones is so precious.
Wishing you all the best
Olympia

bayou said...

Dear Vagabonde, thank you such much for this nice stroll in Tennessee. It reminds me of the Louisiana plantation I have visited many moons ago. Hope you can soon get an action plan for your knees and foot - I do understand that this is a huge trouble. My friend had her first foot op and it took her a while to be mobile again. I hope you can soon find a solution. All the very best from Belgium.

Nadezda said...

Hi, Vagabonde!
I aways love reading about American history and have read with interest about Rippavilla plantation. The house for slaves,people who lost their lives in the Rippavilla fields,the Battle of Spring Hill...
It's sad that you have such problems with your knees, dear. But if you need an operation, is it expensive? Anyhow you have to take care.

DJan said...

Dear VB, I'm glad you finally went to see about your knee but am so sorry to hear there's nothing to do but replacement. Your Nashville tour to the Rippavilla plantation was sure interesting, though, and I loved learning about its past. Sending you big virtual hugs! :-)

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, Sorry to hear that you need knee replacement surgery but several of our friends have been through it and they are very happy that they did. I'm guessing that the foot will have to be fixed first so you can do the therapy after the knew surgery. Loved the information about Rippavilla Plantation. Amazing that it still sits on the original 1,100 acres of land! I really like visiting those historic places that are self sufficient financially. While there are many such places, it takes real imagination and business savvy to prosper and continually maintain and upgrade the property. Biltmore comes to mind as the prime example. Very interesting re: the former slave brothers Moses and Calvin and their ongoing legacy, McKissack & McKissack! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Frances said...

Dear Vagabonde, although I'm glad that you were able to be seen by those doctors, I'm sorry to learn their diagnoses. As others have already commented, you've now a fair amount of strategic planning to do. How I wish that we lived closer so that I could offer you some Real Help!

What interesting tales you discovered about tat plantation. Seems a very likely setting for paranormal occurrences.

Sending you and yours lots of love. xo

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Vagabonde - glad you shared that one lovely day with your daughter and enjoyed a barbecue .. I love one too - and miss my South Africa braais!

Wonderful mansion ... I too would love to look round - looks just amazing.

I hope the knee and ankle get sorted out ... surgery is great - but a pain to get through! Take care and all the best - Hilary

Cergie said...

Le seul avantage que l'on puisse trouver à l'éloignement des enfants est l'occasion de visiter des endroits et de passer du temps avec eux, de partager alors plus qu'un repas ou qu'un café...
Les problèmes de genoux semblent être le mal du siècle, invalidant mais moins létal que la tuberculose ! On aimerait trouver la solution et souvent on doit prendre son mal en patience ou se décider à une action drastique....
La pluie lave le ciel et ensuite les couchers de soleil sont d'autant plus beaux... Du moins cela est ainsi sauf en Californie ou les couchers de soleil sont toujours spectaculaires même s'il ne pleut pas....
;-)
Ce chemin bordé de maïs (?) séché ne me dépayse guère....
J'adore tous ces beaux chênes. Peut-être des variétés spéciales ?
Un bon début d'automne à toi, Vagabonde

Cergie said...

J'ai omis de te parler de la maison en rondin.... Je suis née dans une maison qu'avait fait bâtir mon père, assemblée sans un clou... Cette cabane et son petit appentis racontent des histoires de départ au loin, où l'on peut se construire une vie confortable toutefois....

claude said...

Encore une belle et très intéressant publication, Vagabonde. Toujours super bien documentée et expliquée. Il y aurait tant à dire. C'est un bel endroit
J'ai remarqué le beau chemin de table en dentelle.
J'ai regardé ta précédente publication tout aussi captivante et belle, bien fleurie. j'adore le kiosque.
Bises amicales

sandy said...

Rippavilla plantation is so beautiful! I love to visit historical houses (not that I get to do it that often). Ouch on the knee thing! Hope it all turns out well with surgery, etc.

I enjoyed the photos of the family.

Jono said...

Lovely tour of the plantation! I have only been through Tennessee once, but it was lush. I knew it must rain quite a lot to be that way.
Ah, the knees. I have new ones now and get around in a stable and pain free manner.

rosaria williams said...

Always a big treat coming along on your visits. Sorry to hear about your foot and knees. I know many people who have had knee surgeries, and I am happy to report they are all doing great and are happy with the results. So glad these things can be resolved.

Dee said...

Dear Vagabonde, oh the joy of returning after a year's absence to reading blogging and coming to yours which always takes me to places I've never been and teaches me so much I've never known. This posting especially appealed to me because I just finished using my iPad to watch the nine episodes of "The Civil War' by Ken Burns on PBS. And I also reread "Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara. It is a classic now, a gripping story of Gettysburg. I first read it back in the mid-70s. I have three books on the Civil War in the West--Vicksburg, etc., that his son Jeff wrote and I've started reading them.

I do so hope you get relief for your knee and ankle. My right knee was replaced in April 2010 and it's made such a difference in how I feel. The operation and the recuperation went--as the British say--"swimmingly." Peace.

Shammickite said...

This looks like a very interesting place to visit. I may have driven through Tennessee on my way to somewhere else, but have never actually visited. Nathaniel Cheairs looks rather severe doesn't he.

Marja said...

So sorry to hear about your knee. I hope you can get a knee replacement soon and that you can run again.
A beautiful daughter and grand children you have. You must be proud.
Love the plantation house and all the interesting information

Terra said...

Thank you for sharing these photos about the beautiful and historic plantation house and estate.

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Visiting our children does send us into new directions. Sorry that knee and foot are now an item of concern. I guess we all have aging issues and face them bravely?

Mae Travels said...

You must be very brave to keep your mind on fascinating history when your knee and foot are hurting you! I hope your medical issues are swiftly resolved!

Glenda C. Beall said...

As always you take me to places that I now want to see. I have traveled very little in TN, although I live in NC, but Rippaville Plantation looks like a place I'd like to see. Your photos are wonderful.
Before having surgery, you might want to look at a book, "Pain Free, by Pete Egosque (spelling??) I was going to be sent to a back surgeon but was told about this book. Now I do a couple of his e-cises three or four times a week, changed the way I sit and how long I sit, and hardly have any of the same pain I had before. He also has e-cises for knee problems. Our muscle problems often cause the orthopedic problems we have surgery to correct. You can find the book on Amazon.com Good luck.

Denise Covey said...

Hi Vagabonde! How sorry I am to hear about your knees, your foot, your arthritis. I hope your operations are wildly successful and walking becomes pain free again.

Thank you for taking us on a trip to Tennessee. That sunset was wonderful! You've got to be quick to catch a sunset at its best, and you've managed it! And that tour of Rippaville Plantation was amazing. To see that little slave hut (((weeps))) against that huge mansion. Quite a contrast.

Thanks so much for the lovely journey!

Denise :-)

Arti said...

Those are wonderful sunset photos. And again, you gather info in so much details wherever you go. This is another informative post. Thanks for taking the time to share what you've seen while supposedly just going for a doctor's appointment. Hope you're getting better. I spent two weeks in Sept. and early Oct. in the New England States on a fall foliage road trip. Have enjoyed immensely the beautiful country you're living in. Have a series of 10 posts up after I've come back. ;)

Vicki Lane said...

What a beautiful house and how well it's being cared for. There were so many in the South who opposed secession but ended up fighting with their neighbors for the Confederacy anyway. A moral dilemma.

Jeanie said...

Those sunsets are fabulous -- and I loved the visit to the plantation. How I would love to be there at the holidays. I'll bet they really know how to do it!

Hope everything is progressing just as it should with the knee. I sometimes wonder if I'm going to be dealing with the same thing myself. It's not constant but enough of a reminder that something is afoot. Speaking of which, bummer about the foot, too. Bunions? Doesn't matter -- nothing is fun. And it's not like they can do them at the same time.

Hang in there, my friend. Thinking of you.

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