The Small Study
With the exception of family bedrooms above stairs, the small study is one of the most private spaces of Belmont Mansion. When viewed architecturally, the design of Belmont Mansion reflects the division of public and private spaces that was popular in the 19th century, with the entry hall acting as a divider.
Contemporary accounts and letters refer to the space both as a “study” and “small study”. Think of this space as an area of supreme relaxation. The best views and summer breezes in the house would have been experienced through the window and French doors of this room. Access to the small portico, one of a pair on the principle façade, allowed residents a space from which to view multiple acres of landscaped gardens. Dr. Cheatham, Adelicia’s third husband, was known to have enjoyed afternoon naps on a sofa, and that, no doubt occurred here. Envision this room being used as modern Americans would use a family room. The Acklen, and later the Cheatham children, could have gathered here most evenings after dinner.
As viewed today, the room represents the Cheatham period (post 1867). It is a more casual space than the majority of other rooms within Belmont. Furniture of various eras confirm this theory, rather than the matched suites of furniture made by premier cabinet maker John Henry Belter used elsewhere in the house. From Egyptian Revival wallpaper, to a simpler and less expensive American ingrain carpet, rather than an imported Brussels carpet, the small study was not a room created for public viewing, but for family activities.
Don’t forget for one minute however you are within the walls of Belmont Mansion when viewing this room. The wallpaper is stylish and up-to-date, as Egyptian designs and objects become fashionable with the opening of the Suez Canal, just before the American Civil War. Fine art
purchased by Adelicia on her Grand Tour is shown on the walls, both English and Italian artists are represented.
We suggest you not focus on the finely gilded mirror, European paintings and ceramics, or elaborate window treatment when in this room. Concentrate upon objects that signify life as lived here: numerous books, newspapers, musical instruments, plus a bird cage. Once you understand life as it developed in this room, then you will experience the small study as Adelicia and her family were able to do on a daily basis, both before and after the Civil War.