Across Lebanon Pike from The Hermitage stands the Tulip Grove mansion and property. Andrew Jackson Donelson, Rachel Jackson’s nephew and President Jackson’s private secretary, hired Nashville master builders William C. Hume and Joseph Reiff to construct this Greek Revival mansion as the seat of his 1000 acre cotton plantation.
Built between 1834 and 1836 while Donelson and his first wife Emily were living at the White House, the two-story brick dwelling was modeled on Asher Benjamin’s pattern-books published in Boston from 1830 to 1833.
Featuring a two-story Doric entrance portico, the house is situated atop a wooded hill about one mile from The Hermitage. Two small, one-story wings were built on the rear of the 13-room mansion. The home features Grecian mantles, painted woodwork and an elegant, curvilinear, three-story staircase. The marbleized walls in the main entrance hall are original.
Emily Donelson died of tuberculosis at Tulip Grove in 1836, just months after its completion and two days before her husband returned from Washington.
Legend dictates during President Martin Van Buren’s visit to The Hermitage in 1842 he suggested the name of Donelson’s plantation be changed from “Poplar Grove” to “Tulip Grove” due to the tulip-shaped blossoms of the many poplar trees on the property.
Just before moving from Tulip Grove, Andrew Jackson Donelson unsuccessfully ran for vice president. Donelson sold the 1,063-acre Tulip Grove estate in 1858 and moved to Memphis.
After Andrew Donelson left, Tulip Grove passed through a series of owners. In 1914, the Buntin family purchased Tulip Grove and made additions to it to house modern conveniences. In the 1960s, the Buntins sold the farmland surrounding Tulip Grove but sold the Tulip Grove mansion and surrounding sixty acres to the Andrew Jackson Foundation.
In 1965, the Ladies Hermitage Association opened a restored Tulip Grove mansion to the public. According to architectural historians, this landmark building is one of the best surviving examples of a Greek Revival-style antebellum plantation house in Tennessee. Today, Tulip Grove is open for daily tours Monday through Friday and is also available for special tours and event rentals.