©2006 Bob Schatz Belmont Mansion was designed in the style of an Italian villa in the 1850s.

Nashville Architecture & Landmarks

Nashville has a respect for its past and shows it by restoring and maintaining such older buildings as the Tennessee State Capitol, Belmont Mansion, the Governor's Residence, and the Village Chapel. The Parthenon in Centennial Park might not be the city's most original building, since its an exact copy of the Athens original, but its detailed pristine facade and statue of goddess Athena are worth visiting.

The Ryman Auditorium, the home of the Grand Ole Opry from 1943 to 1974, is an engineering marvel, considering it was completed in 1882, and its interior is acoustically flawless.

The city's history includes working plantations in its heyday in the 1800s, which can be relived through tours of the Belle Meade Plantation, The Hermitage, and the Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum.

Some structures, like President James K. Polk's home near the Capitol, were razed long ago and didn't escape the wrecking ball. The city, however, still has dozens of older buildings that are well preserved and accessible.

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Nashville

Insider's Guide: The Best of Architecture & Landmarks in Nashville

The Travellers Rest Plantation and Museum (636 Farrell Pkwy) is the oldest mansion in Nashville. The honorable Judge John Overton, who also established the city of Memphis in 1819 with Andrew Jackson, started building it in 1799, but it wasn't finished until six phases later over the next 50 years. It has period furniture, records, and letters, and the building reflects the history and development of early Tennessee.

The Hermitage (4580 Rachel's Ln) is the place to learn about seventh U.S. President Andrew Jackson. It has authentic 1800s-era furnishings, which are more than 95 percent original to the family. You will see the General's writing table, the exact wallpaper First Lady Rachel Jackson selected for the foyer, and the bed in which the President lay dying. Take the wagon tour of slave quarters, which have been reconstructed just as the Jackson farmhouse will be over the next few years.

The love story of the Jacksons is one of the most romantic of the presidents. After a smear campaign in the election of 1824, Rachel was buried that Christmas Eve in their private garden at the Hermitage just weeks before a heart-broken Jackson was inaugurated. He never wed again, and he was later entombed beside her.

Belmont Mansion (1900 Belmont Blvd, on the campus of Belmont University) was built in the 1850s and was once considered one of the finest private residences in the United States. This 19th-century Italian Villa-style mansion has original marble statues, Venetian glass, paintings, and 15 rooms open for public tours.

Belle Meade Plantation (5025 Harding Rd) is a good example of the South's Greek Revival Ante-Bellem architecture. The property includes an 1853 mansion that was restored with many Victorian features, an 1890 carriage house and stable, and a 1790 log cabin, which is one of the oldest in the state. The plantation also was a horse-breeding farm.

Fort Nashborough (170 First Ave N, 615-862-8400) is patterned after the pioneer fort established seven blocks from this site in 1779.  It's about one-fourth the size of the original on the actual grounds, which were settled by the North Carolinians led by James Robertson and John Donelson (father of Rachel Jackson). The five primitive log cabins have markers that explain the interiors, along with hardships they faced that winter.

Sam Davis Home (1399 Sam Davis Rd, 615-459-2341) is a stately house and 168-acre working farm preserved as a memorial to Sam Davis, a Confederate scout caught behind Union lines and tried as a spy. He died at the gallows instead of revealing information.

The State Capitol (600 Charlotte Ave) is a Greek Revival building that has an 80-foot tower that rises above the city and columns at its ends and sides. Architect William Strickland died before the building was finished in 1859, and his body is entombed within the building's northeast wall. This building was used as Fortress Andrew Jackson during Union occupation of Nashville from 1862 to 1865. The building currently houses the governor's offices, the chambers of state senate, and the House of Representatives and Constitutional offices.

In the buckle of the Bible belt, the architecture of several Nashville's churches can be a notch above others in the South. One house of worship to visit is the Downtown Presbyterian Church (154 5th Ave N) for its outstanding example of Egyptian Revival architecture, including symbolic paintings and ornate columns. Architect William Strickland, who built the Tennessee State Capitol, designed this church in 1851.

First Baptist Church (900 James Robertson Pkwy) was one of three churches that descended from the First Colored Baptist Church and served as an important meeting place for leaders of the Civil Rights Movement.

The Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park (James Robertson Pkwy) honored Tennessee's 200th anniversary in 1996 on the symbolic site. The Wall of History has the milestones, including a break in its rock around the Civil War for the "Great Divide" in the state when it left the Union. The granite map of Tennessee depicts all 95 counties, while the 31 spraying fountains represent its rivers.

©2006 Cynthia Tanksely Architect William Strickland died before his masterpiece -- the Tennessee State Capitol -- was completed.

The Cameron-Trimble Neighborhood (bounded by Fourth Ave S, Lafayette St, and the railroad tracks near Brown's Creek in south Nashville) is the oldest surviving African-American neighborhood in Nashville. The name Trimble comes from the owner of the plantation once situated here and on which the Colored Troops of the Army of Cumberland began their December 1864 attack on General Hood's Confederate Troops in Nashville.

Music Row (16th and 17th aves S, between Division St and Music Square) houses several buildings considered the headquarters of America's country music industry. The Row includes about 180 studios, 130 publishers, and 80 labels. In the modern offices, you'll see such entertainment corporations as Sony Music, BMG, MCA/Universal, and Curb, in addition to performing rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. Yet, the "row houses" -- which give Music Row its name -- are often leased by independents.

The RCA Studio B (222 5th Ave S) is the studio where Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Lee Ann Rimes, and Billy Ray Cyrus have recorded country music hits.

If you'd rather shop than view architectural landmarks, we have some tips on the next page.

©2006 Cynthia Tanksely Architect William Strickland died before his masterpiece -- the Tennessee State Capitol -- was completed.

The Cameron-Trimble Neighborhood (bounded by Fourth Ave S, Lafayette St, and the railroad tracks near Brown's Creek in south Nashville) is the oldest surviving African-American neighborhood in Nashville. The name Trimble comes from the owner of the plantation once situated here and on which the Colored Troops of the Army of Cumberland began their December 1864 attack on General Hood's Confederate Troops in Nashville.

Music Row (16th and 17th aves S, between Division St and Music Square) houses several buildings considered the headquarters of America's country music industry. The Row includes about 180 studios, 130 publishers, and 80 labels. In the modern offices, you'll see such entertainment corporations as Sony Music, BMG, MCA/Universal, and Curb, in addition to performing rights organizations like BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC. Yet, the "row houses" -- which give Music Row its name -- are often leased by independents.

The RCA Studio B (222 5th Ave S) is the studio where Elvis Presley, Dolly Parton, Lee Ann Rimes, and Billy Ray Cyrus have recorded country music hits.

If you'd rather shop than view architectural landmarks, we have some tips on the next page.