This page does NOT contain any spoilers for the books
If you've read A Lasting Impression, the first of three Belmont Mansion novels, then you may remember that in the Author's Note at the back of the book, I reference a page on my website where you can learn more about Adelicia Acklen's Belmont Mansion. Welcome to that page.
The first time I visited the Belmont Mansion in Nashville, Tennessee––home of Adelicia Acklen, and the setting of all the Belmont Mansion novels––I knew I wanted to write about this magnificent home and the people who'd lived there.
While Belmont served as a "backdrop" for this story and I went to great lengths to remain faithful to history, I did take creative license with historical personalities, as well as with the basement level of the mansion, which is no longer inhabitable nor open to the public. But! If you were to go down there, you'd still see the underpinnings where the workers reinforced the floor beneath both the grand salon (for the Peri statue) and the foyer (for Ruth Gleaning). Both statues are pictured below.
As the story truthfully portrays, Adelicia had a great appreciation for art and was one of the wealthiest women in the United States in the 1860s. Here are some of the statues referenced in the book, as well as some glimpses of the Belmont Mansion, which is open to the public and ready for your visit!
This, the earliest known photograph of Belmont Mansion, was taken by a Union soldier from the top of the water tower during the Civil War. Close observation reveals a staged shot, complete with the horse and carriage, a child on a white horse, and several people posed in the landscape. (Compliments of Belmont Mansion)
Current day Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN
The Grand Staircase
which she named after the horse belonging to Alexander the Great.
which can be seen in the small study at the Belmont Mansion.
While on her Grand Tour of Europe in 1865-1866, Adelicia purchased five statues...
is the only statue belonging to Adelicia that has never left the Belmont Mansion.
Because of her partial nudity, Ruth's placement in the middle
of the front hall (foyer) was quite bold for Victorian American Society.
It remains in the front hall (foyer) today.
The Peri by Joseph Mosier (seen below in a 1860s photograph)
is a statue Adelicia purchased in New York on her return trip from Europe.
Adelicia placed the Peri in a prominent position in the Grand Salon of the mansion (as seen above).
But after her death the statue was moved to the family mausoleum at the
Mt. Olivet Cemetery, as she requested. The picture below is one I took on a visit to the mausoleum.
Sans Souci by C. B. Ives
Sans Souci, French for "without care," was placed in the Central Parlor (where it remains today).
Rebecca at the Well by C.B. Ives
Adelicia placed Rebecca in the library, where Rebecca remains today.
Franklin Girls by Washington B. Cooper
is the portrait that hung in Adelicia's dressing room in A Lasting Impression.
A plate from one of the sets of Adelicia's hand-painted, gold-edged china
(This is the china on which Claire Laurent, heroine in A Lasting Impression,
is served her first dinner at Belmont).
In the novel, I reference a "real" book entitled Queens of American Society. I'm thrilled to say that I, too,
have a first edition copy of Queens of American Society (published 1867). Gotta love Ebay!
The picture of Adelicia in Queens of American Society.
In A Lasting Impression, I reference a large portrait that was located in the entrance hall and that depicted Adelicia Acklen with a little girl (one of her daughters). That picture was true-to-life, but was, unfortunately, lost to time and lack of preservation.
Here is a picture of that portrait (circa 1860s).
One of several gazebos at the Belmont Mansion that students from Belmont University still use today.
I often wonder if the students realize how old these gazebos are and if they know the history behind them...
Belmont Mansion up close
I had the thrill of meeting a descendent of Adelicia Acklen's,
Mrs. Beverly Kaiser. Beverly (who has read A Lasting Impression and "absolutely loved it!")
met me at the mansion one afternoon for a visit and some pictures. It was such an honor to meet her.
Almost felt like I was hugging Adelicia!
The Acklen Family Mausoleum at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville
The mausoleum is located on the top of the hill on Confederate Circle.
And finally, a huge thank you to Mark Brown, Executive Director of Belmont Mansion (25 years and counting), for his tireless work in answering my questions since our first meeting back in 2008, and for his dedication to restoring the mansion to what it was in Adelicia's day. Mark also read A Lasting Impression in first draft form, after which we met for an almost four hour lunch where he shared four pages of single-spaced notes and helped me to get all the details right.
Mark, I'm so incredibly grateful to you, and I'm glad to have two more books in this series to showcase the wonderful history of the Belmont Mansion.
I hope you've enjoyed these glimpses into Belmont. I highly encourage you to plan a trip to Nashville to see the mansion for yourself. It's well worth it! For more information on touring the Belmont Mansion, visit the official Belmont Mansion website.
Or call the Belmont Mansion at 615-460-5459.
Favorite Reader Quotes from A Lasting Impression