Historic Tours That Educate

Get An Interesting Glimpse Into Local History And How It Shaped Our Nation

When the Battle of Franklin Trust was chosen to take over management of Rippa Villa last year, it was an opportunity to reopen the home and property to the public to learn about its incredible history and the impact it had on Franklin during the American Civil War. The Trust was the perfect organization to do so – the nonprofit’s mission is to preserve, understand, and interpret the story of a people forever impacted by the American Civil War.

“Rippa Villa is very closely connected to the Battle of Franklin because everything that happened in and around Spring Hill on November 29th, 1864, is a direct path to Franklin the next day,” says Eric Jacobson, CEO of the Trust.

The Greek Revival-style home was built in the early 1850s by Nat Cheairs, who served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. “His family were substantial landowners and owned a huge number of slaves, so the Cheairs family and the house and site itself are really relics of that era,” he says.

It’s important, he explains, to share its history with others. “I believe that the middle part of the 19th century is the American crucible. The war was what we had to go through to bind the Union together and to end slavery. We were redefined and set back on the course to deal with the self-evident truth that all men, all people, are created equal.”

Rippa Villa, along with the Carnton and Carter Houses, two other historic properties directly impacted during the war, receive over 100,000 visitors a year. Eric said in its first year managing and marketing Rippa Villa, the Trust brought in more visitors than the site has ever had, and its marketing has been directed at attracting a broader group of people. To encourage visitation even more, a ticket to visit all three homes is offered, which is much more cost effective than buying separate tickets to the individual sites.

The Trust offers a variety of tours including battlefield tours, slavery tours, and a behind-the-scenes tour. “We also just launched the Lost Cause & the Legacy of the Confederacy tour, so there are about six different ways you can experience the site.”

Knowledgeable Rippa Villa guides lead these educational and interesting tours. “The site itself is a hundred acres, so there's a lot to see outside as well,” he says. “There's the battlefield which is adjacent to the property, there’s the remnants or foundation of the first house, a family cemetery and a slave cabin - the grounds around the house are filled with history.”

Initially, the Trust inherited an empty house. “What that has allowed us to do is go through a pretty substantial step-by-step restoration starting on the first floor, as well as determining how the house should really look. So we've started to move furniture back in,” says Eric.

“We're returning Rippa Villa to what it's always been, which is an important historic site. Sites like these are the key to understanding our past, and if we truly understand our past, it gives us a much better perspective on who we are as a people right now.”

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