I think there's no better way to learn about our nation's history than to experience it in the places where it actually occcurred. The details stick in the grey matter of the brain so much more than reading them in a textbook. So whenever we can, we take our kids to historical places to encourage our family dialog about history and the pivotal characters that shaped our world. As the Hermitage brochure said, "Knowing where we come from is essential to understanding who we are now...and how to get where we want to go next."
We'd visited the other 2 of the 3 most famous presidential homes, Jefferson's Monticello and Washington's Mount Vernon when we took our D.C. trip a few years back, so seeing Andrew Jackson's Hermitage was a must when we were in Nashville.
Learning about our 7th President's beginning on a revolutionary battlefield at the young age of 13, to his epic victory over the British at the Battle of New Orleans helped to piece this driven, bold leaders' place in our country's early history.
From the humble log cabin home that he shared with his wife, Rachel, in the early years of the plantation, to the classically styled mansion that was built from the profits he earned farming cotton. Andrew Jackson was a competent, admired leader on the battlefield, in politics, and at home.
Because I love old things and seeing how people used to live their daily lives, the log cabins, the natural springs and wells, and the old tools intrigue me. Life before electricity, before technology, before refrigeration...much harder, and much quieter.
The architectural features on the many buildings of Hermitage span from rugged split wood, to old brick, to Grecian columns, displaying the progress of Andrew Jackson's career and life through the decades.
His wife's favorite place to be was the classically-styled garden he had constructed for her. It's usually my favorite place to take in, also.
The picket fences, the meandering paths, the daffodils and flowering quince, along with the magnolia trees just opening made me want to spread out a quilt and unpack a picnic basket for the afternoon.
The Jackson Family's Cemetary is also contained in the garden. Andrew Jackson had the copper-top domed structure built when his wife, Rachel, died. Along with his own grave, subsequent family members and a loyal slave are buried here.
There was a guided tour through the mansion, but the rest of the plantation can be enjoyed with personal audio devices. There are numbers displayed at each location on the map with family and Spanish versions to listen to the historical information. Even while walking through the main building exhibit, "Andrew Jackson: Born for a Storm", it was nice for each of us to go at our own pace.
If you're planning summer vacations, and are going to be in the area, definitely add the Hermitage to your itinerary, if you like American History!