$1.58 million project focuses on preservation of historic landmark
Belmont University and the Belmont Mansion Association announce the beginning of a major restoration of the historic Belmont Mansion. Listed on the national register of historic landmarks, the 152-year-old antebellum home is the architectural centerpiece of the university campus. The $1.58 million project will include the most comprehensive exterior restoration of the building since Adelicia Acklen remodeled the house in 1859.
“After 145 years, the house is ready for a face lift,” Mark Brown, executive director of the Belmont Mansion Association, said. “While the restoration will provide major cosmetic effects it also will deal with the important issue of preservation of the building for the next 152 years.”
Close to $400,000 has already been raised for the project, including a generous challenge gift from long-time Belmont friends Ed and Helen Kennedy. Ed Kennedy was a Belmont University trustee for many years and his wife Helen received her degree from Belmont in 1955 as a member of the first graduating class. Helen is currently a Belmont trustee and a past president of the Belmont Mansion Association.
“Being a Nashvillian and always interested in Nashville history, Belmont Mansion became a big part of my life during my time as a student at Belmont,” Helen said. “Ed and I hope that our enthusiasm for the project will encourage others to participate.”
The fundraising campaign also includes plans for a $1 million permanent endowment fund for ongoing maintenance of the historic building. A number of alumni and friends are supporting the mansion maintenance endowment through bequests in their wills, including alumnae of Ward-Belmont, the all-girls high school and junior college on the current Belmont University campus from 1913-1951.
“We are very pleased with the response so far,” Vicky Tarleton, director of planned giving and major gifts officer at Belmont, said.
The Belmont Mansion Association is a membership organization founded in 1972. Its Board of Directors, the Ward-Belmont Advisory Committee and the Development Committee of the Belmont University Board of Trustees are working together on the project.
“Restoring Belmont Mansion on our campus has been on our minds for a long time,” Bo Thomas, Belmont’s vice president for university advancement, said. “A lot of work needs to be done and we have a powerful coalition of people to lead the effort to restore the mansion to its former beauty.”
“Gifts to the restoration campaign will assure Belmont Mansion’s importance into the 21st century,” Brown said. “We have great confidence in Steve Brown who is the restoration contractor. He is owner and president of Republic Construction and has worked on buildings across the south, including the Ryman Auditorium, The Hermitage and the Tennessee State Capitol.”
The Belmont Mansion Association’s focus in the campaign will be to address the major issue of preservation of the collection of art and antiques that fill the mansion, including upgrading of the building’s heating, air conditioning and humidity control systems to better meet museum standards for the care of the collection. The Belmont Mansion Association also will continue the ongoing restoration of rooms in the house and further work on the central parlor. Those efforts will require an additional fundraising goal yet to be determined.
For a history of the Belmont Mansion, click here.
Pictured: Belmont Mansion, above, right. Helen Kennedy, Belmont University trustee, below, left. Click thumbnails to download.