When people think about visiting presidential sights, it’s easy to get caught up in visiting Washington, D.C. However, there are a couple of presidential places in Music City people can visit.
The most famous presidential resident of Nashville is Andrew Jackson, who served as the seventh president from 1829 to 1837. He moved to Nashville in 1788 following his appointment as a prosecutor in the Western District of North Carolina (historical note: Tennessee did not become a state until 1796, and was a part of North Carolina up until that time). Jackson eventually married Rachel Donelson in 1794, and purchased the plantation that would become known as The Hermitage in 1804.
The Hermitage includes the mansion, gardens, numerous outbuildings, and Jackson’s tomb in a small family cemetery (see more here). Admission pricing varies depending on the type of experience you want. General admission provides access to the mansion, the grounds, the exhibit gallery, and the souvenir store. You can upgrade to the president’s tour or the VIP tour for an additional price. You are not able to tour the mansion on your own. People wishing to visit the mansion are required to participate in a tour, which is led by a costumed guide.
The other president associated with Nashville was a protégé of Jackson, and was also born elsewhere before his family moved to Middle Tennessee in 1803. Following his graduation from college James K. Polk moved to Nashville and began his career as a lawyer in 1818. Polk eventually served as the eleventh president from 1845 to 1849.
Although Polk served in the Tennessee government in a variety of roles before becoming involved in national politics, he primarily resided south of Nashville in Columbia. Following his departure from the White House, Polk and his wife Sarah toured the South en route to their recently purchased home, Polk Place. However, Polk reportedly died from cholera a few months after moving to Nashville and was initially buried in Nashville City Cemetery before being interred at Polk Place per the instructions of his will. Sarah was buried besides him in 1891, but both their bodies were moved to their current location at the Tennessee State Capitol in 1893. The Polk Tomb is located on the northeast side of the capitol grounds (see more here).
There is no fee to visit the grounds of the Tennessee State Capitol. Tours of the building are also free, and run on the hour from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday. Visitors can also take a self-guided tour of the building from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the week. You can also take a virtual tour of the building through the Tennessee State Museum’s website.
The state capitol is also home to a statue of Andrew Jackson, which is located in the east plaza of the grounds. The statue is a replica of the Clark Mills sculpture that was erected in front of the White House in 1853. There are four versions of the statue with the most famous statue residing in front of the Saint Louis Cathedral in New Orleans.
Many people may be unaware of the connection between Jackson and Polk, but it is fitting that the connection between these two presidents is displayed virtually side-by-side in downtown Nashville. If you want to see presidential sites closer to you, check out my Presidential Pathways page.