Belmont Mansion Association
The Belmont Mansion Association (formerly Historic Belmont Association) is the non-profit organization in charge of repairing, restoring, researching, and furnishing Belmont Mansion. In 1971, Albert W. Wardin, Jr., a history professor at Belmont College, was able to place the mansion on the National Register of Historical Places. The following year a group of professors and students from the college formed the Association, hoping to return Belmont Mansion to its former glory.
At the first meeting in 1972, the members of the board were chosen. An important person who opened the eyes of the board was Henry Judd of the National Park Service. He visited at the end of the 1972 for a tour of inspection. Judd had found sliding doors hidden in the walls, still with their silver knobs and on their original tracks with wheels recessed into the thick door panels. Judd suggested that fireplaces needed to be uncovered, doors and walls removed, floors refinished, wallpaper and paint colors reproduced, damaged dentil moldings remolded and replaced, leaks in the roof repaired, and authentic furnishings acquired. On a second trip, Judd discovered the name of the architect, Adolphus Heiman, by looking at an 1860 map of Nashville, on which were inscribed contemporary buildings with the names of their architects.
Soon after its founding, Mrs. Jeannette Noel presented Adelicia’s wardrobe to the Association, now in the large upstairs bedroom—the first of a number of Acklen items which have returned to the mansion. Since then we have constantly been researching and obtaining numerous Acklen objects from near and far. Check out our newest acquisition page for more information on these exciting objects!
Belmont College students formed a student auxiliary in 1973, whose first three presidents from 1973-1977 were Kathy Rutherford, David Agee, and Mark E. Brown (now Director of the Belmont Mansion). Its major project each year was decorating the Mansion for Christmas, but it also provided guide service and assistance in restoration. On July 3, 1976, the mansion was first opened to the public on a limited basis with Brown, the student auxiliary president, conducting the first visitors through the five front rooms and two bedrooms upstairs then open to the public. Faculty advisors for the auxiliary included Albert Wardin and later Gladys Bryant, members of the History Department of the college. The auxiliary ceased upon Bryant’s retirement from the college in the spring of 1987.
Another milestone was reached in June, 1981, when the association engaged in first full-time director, Miss Marcy-Jean Mattson, who resided in the apartment in the east of the mansion. Earlier Miss Ann Buchanan, Mrs. William T. (Sue) Edwards III, and Miss Andrea Dunlap had served as coordinators of the mansion’s daily activities. In the following year in March, a permanent gift shop in its own room was established under the direction of Mrs. Harriet McHenry.
In 1986, the time had come to call Mark Brown back to the Belmont Mansion as director. As weak as the association was in resources, with no budget and an incomplete endowment, Brown accepted the position. Brown has continued his association with the mansion ever since he arrived as a history student at Belmont College in 1973. He had served as a very energetic president of the student auxiliary of the association and was co-chairman of the first Christmas at Belmont. After graduation at Belmont, he earned a Master’s Degree in Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University and for seven years served as director at the Blount Mansion in Knoxville. Mark Brown is still the director to this day.
For the past forty years the Belmont Mansion Association has taken on the challenges of collecting and maintaining all interior furnishings, restoring the mansion, and interpreting the mansion, Adelicia Acklen and her family, and life in the 19th century to the general public. Belmont University made an agreement long ago to assist with exterior restorations, utilities, custodial services, and insurance for the building. These objectives have been made possible by the tireless efforts of the Belmont Mansion staff, Board Members, volunteers, and friends over the years, along with annual events like “Christmas at the Belmont Mansion,” Belmont University School of Music concerts, and becoming one of Nashville’s most elegant and affordable wedding venues!