C. C. Giers Stereo Card-Grand Salon

Long an object of curiosity Belmont Mansion was first captured by a photographer after Nashville fell to the Union army in 1862. That image, offered on a CDV, was sold to soldiers as a souvenir in the newly occupied city. War was hardly the time to haul a cameraman’s equipment into the house, setting up for a series of interior views.

Exterior stereo card of the mansion.

By the 1870’s such restrictions were no longer in place. C. C. Giers a well-known Nashville photographer was either invited into the mansion by Adelicia, or talked his way inside. Views such as Giers Belmont interiors were often, printed and sold on stereo cards, quickly becoming the equivalent of a multi-page spread published by Architectural Digest in modern times.

Two stereo cards of the entry hallway

We have no accurate account of the number of photos shot by Giers within the walls of Belmont. For a number of years it was believed that only four were published, until one unknown view surfaced a few weeks ago. That image has now found its way into our permanent collection.

Two stereo cards of the entry hallway already in our collection

When photographing Belmont’s interior shots featuring the Grand Salon, Giers turned his camera just a bit to the left capturing details unknown before now. Someone on that day subtlety moved chairs as documented by differing views. The recently discovered view reveals a significant Renaissance Revival chair with an open splat back of which we had no prior knowledge. Such chairs were usually sold in pairs. Could the mate be on the other side of the room out of view?

Our newest stereo card.

The exposure of this newly acquired shot captures an architectural detail only hinted at in previous views. Adolphus Heiman’s multi-faceted classical cornice appears to have been accented by different colors. A darker background highlights applied plaster motifs. Paint analysis will reveal these colors for full restoration at some point in the future.

We are thankful to both Mr. Giers and the Nashville family who had the foresight to store this treasure away for almost 150 years. It now rests permanently in the archives of Belmont Mansion.

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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