What Do a Splash Cloth and a China Doll have in Common?

Answer: they are both new editions to Belmont Mansion’s collection!

Splash Cloth

Most of us probably use many types of cloth every day. From towels and washcloths to the shirt on our back. However, I doubt most have ever used (or even heard of) a splash cloth. Sometimes called a splash or splasher, according to an 1899 dictionary this cloth was “a screen hung behind a washstand to protect the walls from water.” In “Woman’s Handiwork in Modern Homes” published in 1881, Constance Cary Harrison wrote that “a linen splash curtain for the wash-stand should be made of yard-wide linen, to suit the wash-stand length.”

Belmont Mansion’s splash cloth is an example of finely woven linen dating to the 1860-1870s. Considering the expensive French wallpaper Adelicia had in the house, these cloths would be a necessity to protect such wallpaper from soapy and dirty water. The red embroidery you see on the cloth was probably added in the 1890s. This cloth is hanging behind the washstand in the large bedroom.

China Doll

Children have been playing with dolls since ancient times. According to The Strong National Museum of Play, dolls in the 19th century were important not only for play, but also so that girls could learn important skills like sewing by making doll clothes.

While writing to her mother, Adelicia mentioned that "Pauline has no less than five dolls on her bed" so we have collected some period dolls for Pauline’s bed. This new china doll dates from 1850-1870 and may even be wearing her original red dress and petticoat (perhaps made by her original owner).

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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