Blackwater River cruise, Bagdad, Florida, October, 2019

Blackwater River cruise, Bagdad, Florida, October, 2019
Blackwater River cruise, Bagdad, Florida, October, 2019

Saturday, April 13, 2019

What's Out There Weekend (WOTW): Nashville - Part 1, Saturday & Sunday, April 13-14, 2019

Or, how to do six tours around Nashville in two days! The best way to do that is with The Cultural Landscape Foundation ( If you go their website, you can find when and where the next WOTWs will be held. The way it works is, you register in advance online for the tours you'd like to take. When it's time for the weekend, you are sent an email about where and when to meet your guide and where to park. You have a tour of the location given by an expert, whether it's the president of a college or the person who originally designed the landscape architecture, you're sure to learn a lot. 

We have fallen in love with this unique way to tour an area. And the tours are FREE! Pretty simple overall. We first learned about WOTW in San Antonio and were blown away by the quality of the tours.

Bob and I had already done three Volksmarches in Nashville, so we had been through a couple of the places the tour would cover; however, to go back and hear an expert talk about it, gives so much more depth to your experience in a place. 

The first tour on Saturday: Belmont Mansion which later became Belmont University. A light rain was falling as we pulled into the parking lot. It was chilly, so we bundled up and grabbed our umbrellas before meeting our guide, Mark E. Brown, who has been Director of the Belmont Mansion for over 30 years! Brown had been a history student at Belmont College. After graduation from Belmont, he earned a Master's Degree in Historic Preservation from Middle Tennessee State University. Talk about an expert. 

It was obvious from the start, Brown loves his subject. He was prepared for us at each stop on the tour with historic photos of what Belmont Mansion's property looked like back in the 1850s. The mansion was built in the style of an Italian Villa set amidst elaborate gardens. You have to keep in mind that this is only a "summer residence." There was a water tower, plus a two-hundred-foot-long greenhouse, a conservatory, a zoo, a bear den, a bowling alley, gazebos, and an art gallery. The owner, Adelicia Acklen, opened her property up for local citizens to enjoy the zoo.

Mark E. Brown, Executive Director, at right.
Belmont Mansion today
Sleeping lions were in place by the
beginning of the Civil War.
Sitting lions are far rarer than sleeping lions.
The sitting lions are on "guard duty."
I fell in love with the Four Continents garden ornaments.

Part of our tour group.
Original photos of parts of the estate.
More photos and a drawing of the grounds.
The famous water tower on the Belmont University Campus has an interesting history. Enlarge the photo below to read about it.

Water tower history. It is now
a carillon tower with 42 bells.
Mark Brown mentioned in his talk about how Adelicia Acklen and the Belmont Mansion came out of the Civil War. Bob asked, "When so many other plantation owners were ruined by the Civil War, how did they survive?" The answer is that when Adelicia's first husband died, he willed their seven Louisiana cotton plantations and all the cotton crops to her. 

At one point during the Civil War, Adelicia and her female cousin made a trip to Louisiana to secretly and illegally "negotiate" with both Union and Confederate authorities the sale of 2,800 bales of her cotton to London, England. She made $690,000.00 in gold off the sale.

Once again, we thoroughly enjoyed this tour even though it rained on us. On to our next tour.

Tour #2 on Saturday: Music Row Nashville. The biggest impression this tour made on me is that Nashville music started out as blues and gospel, and then evolved into country and rock 'n' roll. It all happened here. 

Our guide, Carolyn Brackett (senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation), is currently directing the Music Row National Treasures project in Nashville. This includes working with local partners to document Music Row's history, prepare a preservation-oriented design plan, and develop plans to tell Music Row's story to residents and visitors.

We started out at The Quonset Hut/Decca Records on Music Row. This is fitting since Music Row began when Owen Bradley opened The Quonset Hut in 1955. In 1957, Chet Atkins opened RCA's studio. Other studios, publishing houses, and record labels including Columbia, Epic, Decca, Warner Bros., Capitol, and Curb followed. Street names were changed in 1975 to Music Square East and West.

Many of the record studios congratulate/advertise their new artists' hits by placing signs in front of their studios. See below.

Ads for stars and their new recordings.
Warner Music building.
One of the most interesting things we learned on this tour is that musicians vary the studios they use which gives their music a different sound depending on the qualities of each studio. Each studio is better for certain musical qualities, or back-up musicians, sound engineers, depending on what sound the musicians are trying to achieve. There are many collaborations between artists and they even may share drummers, bassists, etc.

Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of four performing-rights organizations. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as their work is performed. [Wikipedia.]

BMI (Broadcast Music, Inc.)
The guitar-shaped pool below is at NASHVEGAS, a recently renovated building that used to be the Spence Manor (a five-star hotel) that catered to the rich and famous on Music Row: Elvis, The Beatles, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, and many others. [NOTE: Rooms there can be rented through VRBO or Airbnb.]

The guitar-shaped pool at NASHVEGAS.
Sculpture of Owen Bradley, the one
who started Music Row in 1955.
Below is the Nashville branch of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP). ASCAP is an American non-profit, performance-rights organization that protects its members' musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly.

ASCAP Nashville.
RCA Victor, Studio B
This loud, raucous party wagon blaring music
came by making it hard to hear our guide.
Our guide, Carolyn Brackett (right), and
some others on the tour.
RCA Victor, Studio A
RCA Victor, Studio A was set to be sold to a developer who wanted to tear it down and build condominiums. It was saved at the last minute. The developers will not get it. This is a huge problem in Music Row. Large condominium buildings are moving into the area overshadowing Music Row. Our tour guide is helping fight the developers by working with lawmakers to establish new legislation limiting the developers in what they can do in historic areas.

RCA Victor, Studio A
This building is set to be remodeled.
It is currently empty.
Our tour ended and we thanked Carolyn for the tour and for working to preserve historic buildings.

(To be continued...)

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