Next Steps in the Grand Salon
The completion of the Grand Salon floor has many people asking us what’s next. Just look around, much of the space is still covered with mid-20th century finishes, not mid-19th. Our goal is a complete restoration of the room, which is one of the most architecturally important rooms in Tennessee remaining from the antebellum period.
We have yet to complete the marbled walls to complement the Acklen’s floor. Every door and window surround in the salon also needs faux graining to resemble oak. In the future, original colors will need to be applied to the cornice and ceiling. This will be a laborious and expensive project, but one that will bring us closer to the 1860 appearance of the room. We need your help! Our loyal members have long supported Belmont’s restoration efforts. We hope you will do so yet again as we continue. The first step is graining the woodwork.
Your support for all of this work is crucial. Donations are welcomed as are your visits and inquiries to see the work in action. We'll continue to post updates here so check back periodically.
History of the Grand Salon Floor
When this room was completed in 1860 to visually unite the pre-existing u-shaped gallery floor and the now attached salon a painted floor was utilized. A pattern representing black and white marble blocks, with the white blocks being veined, was painted on a random width wood floor. This design covered the entire floor of what was in 1860 the largest room in any Tennessee home.
With the coming of the school this original floor, by this time showing much wear, was covered with a naturally finished narrow oak floor then in fashion. Fast forward two generations and another oak floor was overlaid on the school floor. This meant that now two layers of modern flooring covered the painted salon floor of the Acklens.
Seventy plus years have passed since the last floor was installed. Imagine the wear to that floor as frequently as this house is used for events. Don't forget to mention the tens of thousands of guests who arrive each year to view the mansion.
By 2016, the new floors were beginning to fail structurally, and showing areas of extreme wear. The question of sanding the floor yet again was not available, as it had been sanded one too many times in the past . Staff had two options: overlay with yet another floor, or remove the two layers of oak floor exposing the original patterned floor for the first time in 130 years.
The decision was made to remove all oak flooring from the historic space. That original floor is made of pine, a wood far too soft for the use this museum sees. So the original floor will be covered, preserving in place that historic artifact and a new random width floor will now be overlaid in such a manner that it can easily be removed in the future, if needed. What is exciting is that the new floor will be painted to match the Acklen period floor, leaving a portion of the original floor exposed for viewing and future study. The location of the Salon's fountain will also be indicated on the new floor.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for updates as the restoration progresses.