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Photography by Kyle Gregory

Featured Article

Historic Fairvue


Article by Patti Gordon

Photography by Payton Wright Photography

Originally published in Gallatin Lifestyle

What makes a house a home? Many have sought to define that answer and in the case of the beloved, antebellum-style mansion affectionately named the Fairvue Plantation in Gallatin, that question continues to be answered by those who share the rich history of this iconic home. As a bachelor pad, summer home to one of the South’s most prominent slave traders, a racehorse nursery, Union soldier refuge and finally into the hands of a family who was ready to put down their own local roots, this home has served many roles in Gallatin and still holds stories today of several important historical eras. The journey this estate took to get to where it is currently is long and arduous, but the history and stories are what shaped its foundation and continues to make an impact in our community today.

Purchasing 2,000 acres from his father in Gallatin, the core of the Fairvue Plantation was originally built by Isaac Franklin in 1832 and was simply named Fairvue. Fairvue was an early working plantation, housing mostly cattle and crops initially. It also served as a getaway and a prized homestead of Franklin who amassed a number of homes and properties across the Old South throughout his time. Separated into quarters with each parcel carefully laid out, in addition to the home itself on the property, there originally stood 16 brick slave houses, an overseer’s home, a blacksmith shop, commissary, grist mill, cotton gin, hostler house and a twostory spring house. The local spring supplied water for all of the inhabitants, which also included 129 enslaved plantation workers at its height.

With all of its splendor and ornate tales of luxury of its time, Fairvue Plantation caught the eye of a young Adelicia Hayes. Adelicia having left a note in Franklin’s guest book during a visit to the home would later became the young bride to Isaac Franklin in 1839. Once married, a new wing was added to the house with a garden and a mushroom-shaped icehouse that still stands today. As a true bachelor pad prior to his marriage, Franklin was noted to have great taste and a deep desire for possessions of impeccable home decor and luxuries. A black Irish Kilkenny marble mantel and solid brass newel posts for the staircase are a few of his touches that he installed that are still functional showpieces in the current rendition of the home.

Four years prior to his marriage to Adelicia, Franklin would cease active involvement in the slave trade business he had built and instead transitioned to become a planter in the 1840s. He would spend his time between Fairvue and his six additional plantations in the West Feliciana Parrish of Louisiana. It was on one of his Louisiana trips that Franklin died after an unexpected illness and was returned to Tennessee. His untimely death ultimately left his wife Adelicia as one of the wealthiest women in the United States. Adelicia was left over 10,000 acres of land in Louisiana and Tennessee (2,000 of those acres being in Gallatin via Fairvue Plantation including 16 thoroughbred horses, a racing stable and horse track), 50,000 acres of land in Texas, cash, bonds, stocks, other land grants, businesses and over 750 slaves at the time of Franklin's death.

Adelicia would go on to remarry twice more, each time being able to maintain her past properties and increasing her wealth and influence. Her marriage to Col. Joseph Acklen, a lawyer from Alabama, also resulted in the construction of the Belmont Mansion (now part of Belmont University in Nashville), completed in 1849.

The Civil War followed shortly after along with a takeover by Union soldiers that left the Fairvue Plantation vacant. During the war, papers were drawn up that held protection for slaves, the land and several area plantation homes. James H. Record, a Union soldier, even left his signature on the walls of the Fairvue Mansion, bequeathing a small piece of history to the ageless stories that continue to be told.

In 1882, a prominent New York banker named Charles Reed purchased the home from Adelicia. He changed the spelling from Fairvue to “Fairview,” and began building his own horse breeding establishment at that time. It was said that at its peak, this famous Thoroughbred nursery, Fairview, had 286 box stalls distributed over multiple professionally-managed, onsite stables and was the epicenter of the equine world right here in Gallatin in the late 1800’s. During his time building his equine enclave, Reed went on to construct the five mare barns and a massive stone stable with a covered track, both still standing today.

Following the Reed era, Fairview was bought by the Sumner County Land Company, known as the “Grasslands Project,” a horse racing venture supported by several wealthy industrialists. After hosting several steeplechases, fox hunts and colorful parties inside the mansion, the Great Depression in 1932 ended the good times at Fairview and the home fell into disarray. Fairview was given a new chance at life when Will Wemyss purchased the plantation home and property in 1934 and returned the spelling of its name to the original Fairvue with plans to restore the mansion to its former and deserved glory.

In 1939 with the help of his wife, Ellen Wemyss, they began the restoration process with hopes of making it their family home. In 1956, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) flooded 320 acres by building Old Hickory Dam, placing Fairvue on a peninsula that is still outlined today. Under The Wemysses’ stewardship, Fairvue was later designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Upon their passing, Fairvue had been lived in by the Wemyss family longer than any of the former owners and the work to restore the property to a proper home was impressively and expertly completed.

In 2002, Leon Moore and his wife Linda bought the home and again worked to restore it for their own family to live in and to call home. Leon was also integral in developing the Fairvue Country Club as well as Foxland Golf Course. The surrounding land that was once part of the original plantation acreage was later developed into beautiful home sites, which now makes up the modern day Fairvue Plantation neighborhood along Nashville Pike in Gallatin!

Upon the Moores passing, their daughter Paige and husband Kevin decided to continue the Moore’s legacy and made Fairvue their home, as well.  They took on the challenge and continued to renovate and update the antebellum mansion to its full, restorative beauty. Many parts of the grand home were repurposed to be used at other historic sites during the renovation while other portions for the remodel came from similar historic homes in the area from the same time period. Although the National Historic Landmark title was withdrawn, the intertwining of multiple, generational restorations and personal touches of each family have maintained the Gallatin gem as a beautiful piece of local history that continues to tell the story of life through so many generations, lenses and eras from our historic, quaint piece of Tennessee history.

The intertwining of multiple, generational restorations and personal touches of each family have maintained the Gallatin gem as a beautiful piece of local history that continues to tell the story of life through so many generations, lenses and eras from our historic, quaint piece of Tennessee history.

  • Photography by Kyle Gregory
  • Photography by Kyle Gregory
  • Photography by Kyle Gregory
  • Photography by Kyle Gregory