Lost Landmark-Fairvue Plantation, Gallatin (TN)

Isaac Franklin Plantation (Fairvue), Gallatin, Tennessee, October 2003. National Historic Landmarks Program photograph.

This structure was erected in 1832 by Isaac Franklin and was known as “the finest country home in Tennessee.”  The ceilings of the attic bare the names of company and regimental units, traced with candle smoke by Union soldiers.  Franklin, the first owner of the property, was born in 1789 to parents of moderate means.  By his fortieth birthday, he was a millionaire.  Besides the home and plantation at Fairview, he owned 50,000 acres of land in Texas and had some holdings in Louisiana and Mississippi.  In 1839, he married Adelicia Hayes, a member of a prominent Nashville family.  Franklin died in 1846.  In 1882, Charles Reed of New York, a rich turf man, bought the property and built an immense stone barn with a shed that covered an exercise track for his horses.

In 1934, the property once again changed ownership after going into receivership and being purchased by William H. Wemyss. The Wemyss’ undertook a multi-year restoration project due to natural deterioration and to restore the house’s internal decorations. Under the Wemyss’ stewardship, Fairvue was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977. The National Historic Landmark boundary encompassed 560 acres and included the 2 1/2-story red brick classical home, three slave houses, an overseer’s house, springhouse, icehouse, and the Franklin vault ruins.

The current condition of the property bears little resemblance to its historic use as an antebellum southern plantation. The area surrounding the house has been developed into a golf course community with houses and other facilities placed directly adjacent to and interspersed within the property’s main house and outbuildings. Various alterations have been introduced to the main house itself so that it no longer conveys its historic association as an antebellum plantation home. A one-story addition built on the southeast corner of the rear (east) elevation, the introduction of new woodwork and drywall, the widening of doorways, and the retrofitting of the southern section of the house with a modern interior layout, all contribute to the mansion’s loss of integrity. In addition, windows and fiberglass shutters are replicas of the originals while windows have been introduced to the previously open south end of the loggia. Due to this loss of historic integrity, National Historic Landmark designation for Fairvue was withdrawn on April 4th, 2005.

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