Built by Nathaniel Cheairs, whose family settled on the site in 1811, the Rippavilla Plantation is a wonderful example of Greek Revival architecture. Construction on the mansion began in 1851 and it was finally completed in 1855 after, legend has it, that Cheairs had the partially completed mansion torn down on three separate occasions. The plantation now offers hour long guided tours of the house and grounds. Approximately 75% of the furnishings are original and the mansion also includes a museum room with additional family and Civil War artifacts.
Backstory and Context
The 1,100 acre plantation utilized the forced labor of over 70 slaves by 1860 who worked the fields of wheat, cotton, tobacco, and corn as well as the various livestock. During the Civil War, Rippavilla was occupied by both Confederate and Union forces and served as the headquarters of Confederate General J. B. Hood. It also played pivotal roles in the Battles of Spring Hill and Franklin in 1864 as it served as a makeshift hospital during those battles.
The plantation was eventually restored to its 1860 grandeur and then added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. It went through a major, million dollar renovation that was completed in 1997 and now boasts numerous period artifacts to include toys, furnishings, and books. The meticulous grounds contain a lone slave cabin as a reminder of the role they played in the plantation’s history. The Tennessee Museum of Early Farm Life is also located on the grounds in a large barn behind the mansion.
Finally, Rippavilla is known for its numerous and unique special events. These include a massive corn maze in the fall, teatimes throughout the year, genealogy classes, the annual Swanky Plank Vintage Marketplace every July, its famous Mother’s Day Lunch, and Whispers From the Past: Paranormal Investigations which are offered at various times during the year. Finally, the plantation is also available for weddings, receptions and other social and/or corporate events.