As the third most visited presidential site in the country, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is a welcoming place for tour groups. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, The Hermitage is a 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark with more than 20 historic buildings, including Jackson’s mansion and tomb, restored slave cabins, a church and gardens. Groups visiting The Hermitage will discover the full story of Andrew Jackson’s life and work, including the history of the enslaved men and women who lived and worked on the property.
We chatted with Ann Dee McClane, vice president, marketing & communications at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, to learn what tour groups can expect from a visit.
Q. Tell us about The Hermitage.
A. Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is the home of the seventh U.S. president — where Andrew Jackson and his family lived before, during and after his presidency. This National Historic Landmark has been open to the public since 1889, giving visitors a glimpse into what life in the 19th-century South was like.
No one tells the story of Jacksonian America — that pivotal time in our nation’s history between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War — like we do. This period of time, in which Jackson was president, shaped America’s future. While Jackson’s story is complex, it is nonetheless vitally important to know. As president, he strengthened the power of the presidency. He was able to keep South Carolina from seceding from the Union. He decentralized the bank. He gained new respect for the United States in foreign affairs and pushed the country toward democracy. He is the only president to have paid off the national debt.
All of these accomplishments also come with the intricacies of Jackson being a man of his time. The Jacksons were a wealthy family, and they were able to accumulate their wealth because of the labor of enslaved men and women who lived and worked on the Hermitage property. He did not free any of his enslaved workers before he died, and the Greek Revival-style mansion that serves as the centerpiece of our site is the result of that forced labor.
The mission of our organization is to tell that story — the whole story — so that we can inform decisions to make a better path forward. We do that every day through tours that are offered. This important piece of American history is something that should not be overlooked on any trip to Nashville.
Q. What is the experience like for visiting groups? What do you hope they take away from a visit?
A. Groups are graciously welcomed to Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. With Southern hospitality, our team prides itself on making every visitor feel welcome and appreciated. From offering Grounds Passes and talks with our team of historians and experts to a wagon tour that tells more about the lives of the enslaved workers and a Commander in Chief Tour with our president and CEO, tour options are endless!
Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is consistently ranked as one of the top tourist attractions in Nashville and is the third most visited presidential site in the country. The Andrew Jackson Foundation exists to preserve the history of what has been entrusted to us, to educate about Jacksonian America and how that critical time shaped the country that America is today and to inspire citizenship in every person who steps foot on our property.
Q. What does a typical visit look like for groups?
A. Groups of 15 or more people receive a discounted rate on our Mansion Tour, which is our most popular tour option. This tour includes a guided tour of the Hermitage mansion, as well as a self-guided tour of the site, including 1,120 acres that house more than 20 historic buildings, historic garden where the Jacksons and many of their family members are laid to rest, walking trails and our museum and Jackson film. Visitors should also check out our Museum Store, which has perfect souvenirs and gifts!
When the site is fully operational again (which we hope is in the near future), our goal is to bring back The Duel: Art of the Southern Gentleman. This interactive guest experience gives the history of duels, including Jackson’s involvement in several. Audience members are even selected to act as “seconds” to our duelists. This award-winning experience has been a favorite of groups, and we look forward to its return.
Q. How long should a group plan to spend at The Hermitage?
A. We recommend a group allot two to three hours to do all that The Hermitage has to offer.
Q. How can the staff at The Hermitage assist group tour operators?
A. The staff at Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage is always excited to assist group tour operators — from providing information on options for groups and putting together the perfect itinerary for their time on our site to greeting groups upon arrival and even recommending other activities in the area. Our goal is to ensure an excellent visitor experience for everyone.
Q. Are there dining options for groups?
A. We have a café on-site, offering some of the tastiest Southern fare in Nashville. And don’t miss the wine tasting at Natchez Hills Winery, our on-site tasting room that offers made-in-Tennessee wines by the glass, flight and bottle, as well as local craft beer.
Q. Is there anything new happening at The Hermitage this year or in the future?
A. The Hermitage is fortunate to have more than 800,000 artifacts in our collection and to have new pieces added each year by the generosity of donors. We take pride in being able to safely showcase as many of these as we can. Because preservation is one of our organization’s core tenets, we are always working to ensure the longevity of what has been entrusted to us. Just last year, we completed a preservation project on Jackson’s tomb and to the beloved Telemachus wallpaper in the upstairs hallway of the mansion. Visitors love seeing these kinds of preservation projects underway, giving them a peek at important work that is not always seen.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like tour operators/planners to know about The Hermitage or its group offerings?
A. The Hermitage is so pleased that group travel has returned! We have had an incredible, busy spring season and look forward to welcoming many groups this fall. To ensure the best possible experience for everyone, we do recommend booking as early as possible, allowing us to lock in the timeframe that is best for your group. We look forward to welcoming you back to the home of the seventh president.
For more information, visit thehermitage.com.
Main photo: Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, Nashville, Tenn.; Credit: Andrew Jackson Foundation