The elaborate “summer home” of Adelicia Acklen was constructed in 1853 and was named Belle Monte. Belmont Mansion (1900 Belmont Blvd., 615/460-5459, www.belmontmansion.com, Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun. 1–4 p.m., adults $10, seniors $9, children 6–12 $3), as it is known today, is a monument to the excesses of the Victorian age.
Adelicia was born to a wealthy Nashville family in 1817. When she was 22, Adelicia married Isaac Franklin, a wealthy bachelor 28 years her senior. When Franklin died seven years later, Adelicia inherited his substantial wealth. Adelicia remarried to Joseph Acklen, a young lawyer, and together they planned and built Belmont Mansion. The home was built in the Italian style, with touches of Egyptian revival style.
The home boasted 36 rooms and 16,000 square feet of space including a grand gallery where the Acklens hosted elaborate balls and dinner parties. The property included a private art gallery, aviary, zoo, and conservatory, as well as a lake and acres of manicured gardens. After the Civil War, Adelicia traveled to Europe, where she purchased a number of paintings and sculptures that are now on display in her restored mansion.
Shortly before her death, Adelicia sold Belmont to two female educators who ran a girls school from the property for 61 years. Later, it was purchased by the founders of Belmont College, a private college known for its music and music business programs.
Visitors to the mansion are given a 45-minute guided tour of the property, which includes the downstairs sitting and entertaining rooms and three of the upstairs bedrooms.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition