Claude Melnot Acklen (1857-1920)


Claude was born at Belmont on July 25, 1857, and educated with home tutors.  He later attended Montgomery Bell Academy.  He received his college education at Southwestern, a Presbyterian College in Clarksville now Rhodes College in Memphis.  In December of 1877 he was appointed United States Postmaster for Angola.  He held that position for a short time.   In 1885 he moved to Washington, D. C. with his mother and siblings, William and Pauline.


In 1885 Claude is appointed Commissioner of Indian Affairs and assigned to the Round Valley Indian Agency in California.  He was in California for a short time and living back in Washington, D. C. by the time of his mother’s death in 1887.  Following Adelicia ’s death he and William moved into a house at 2107 O Street.  In 1890 he purchases a large house in Ellicott City, Maryland that he calls Greystone.  Today the house is more commonly known as Elmonte.   On October 5, 1891 he marries Ella Mason, from Macon George,  a former tutor at Belmont and fourteen years his senior.  During this period he serves as Maryland State Game Warden for the area.  By the late 1890s he owns controlling interest in The Maryland Telephone System in Hagerstown that he sells in September of 1901.


In 1905 he and Ella divorce having no children.   Ella moves to Nicholasville, Kentucky where she dies in 1913.  In March of 1911 Claude sold the house in Ellicott City.  In 1917 and 1918 he is listed in the City Directory of Jacksonville, Florida as a photographer.   He soon moves to Ormond Beach and lives with his brother William.  In the spring of 1920 he becomes ill and goes to Baltimore, Maryland for treatment where he died on June 19, 1920.  

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Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212


1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212


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The architecture of Belmont Mansion makes it one of the most significant homes of 19th century Tennessee.

Sold by the Acklen family in 1887, the house went to a developer who began one of Nashville’s early suburbs.

It was then purchased by two women who in 1890 started a college which evolved into Belmont University. Today the Belmont Mansion Association, which was formed in 1972, owns the collection, runs the museum, and shares this unique story of 19th century Nashville with visitors from far and near.

Photos by Ed Houk