Polk Dresser

A piece with significance not only to Belmont, but also to Nashville, the state of Tennessee, and the nation as a whole has recently been returned to Belmont Mansion; the dresser of James K. Polk, eleventh President of the United States.

Adelicia shared a long friendship with Mrs. Polk. In fact, Adelicia's 1849 wedding to Joseph Acklen was the last public event President Polk attended before he died of cholera a few weeks leter. Mrs. Lattie Brown, a direct descendant of Adelicia, donated the piece to Belmont in 2015. Her family always refered to the dresser as James K. Polk's. The staff of Polk's ancestral Home in Columbia, TN believe Mrs. Polk closed certain rooms of her Nashville home in later years, then proceeded to empty these spaces of furniture. It is safe to assume Adelicia aquired the dresser at this time. Joseph Hayes Acklen inherited the piece after Adelicia's death. From Joseph it came down through the 20th century to Mrs. Brown, then back to Belmont Mansion.

Polk’s dresser is primarily of cherry with poplar as a secondary wood. Four graduated drawers make up the body of the chest. Mahogany crotch grain veneers cover all drawer fronts. Set into the top are two columnar mirror supports holding a rectangular mirror frame also decorated with crotch grain Mahogany. The mirror retains its original glass. The chest rests upon ring and ball turned feet.

In the early 20th century, the dresser was stripped of its original Mahogany stain. So Belmont has had the original color and French polish finished restored. The piece now sits in the large bedroom.

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GPS ADDRESS

Belmont Blvd & Acklen Avenue 

Nashville, TN 37212

MAILING ADDRESS

1900 Belmont Blvd

Nashville, TN 37212

615-460-5459

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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