Rippavilla Plantation Offers History and Fun
PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier
There's a lot going on at Spring Hill's historic Rippavilla Plantation. A treasured landmark, the home was completed in 1855 by Nathaniel Cheairs is one of the largest antebellum homes in the state. In its heyday, the 1,100-acre plantation raised wheat, corn, hay, cotton, tobacco, cattle, sheep and mules.
Today, it offers visitors a glimpse of life in the 19th-century South through the many original period family antique pieces on display throughout the house. The mansion features Greek Revival architecture, and 70 percent of the furnishings are original Cheairs family pieces. Be sure to visit the museum room where you will find several family heirlooms as well as some genuine Civil War artifacts. When the weather turns cooler, Rippavilla's backyard is the site of one of the most beloved family events in Maury County: the corn maze! The massive, family-friendly (not haunted) maze attracts around 20,000 people every fall. The maze takes anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to complete. A paper map guides the way, but tech types can bring a GPS. Rippavilla representatives are present throughout the maze to help those who need it. Afterwards, bonfires and hot chocolate await.
Other events at Rippavilla include regular teatimes, geneaology classes, special event lunches and brunches. Special black history tours in February each year are well attended, says Executive Director Pam Perdue. About 75 slaves worked the plantation, and one of the original slave cabins still stands on the property. Information about the slaves at Rippavilla is an important part of the overall interpretation of life here. “There’s a lot of Civil War history here,” says Andrew Sherriff, docent and house supervisor at Rippavilla Plantation. “It is most famous for the breakfast meeting [of five Confederate generals who all were killed just hours afterward at the Battle of Franklin], but the house was occupied on and off throughout the war.” Housed in a large barn behind Rippavilla is The Tennessee Museum of Early Farm Life. More than 500 items are on display‚ with many dating to the early 1800s. Visitors will find all kinds of items here‚ from early horseshoe nails to tractors‚ carriages and wagons. Visitors have come from as far away as Russia, Saudi Arabia and Australia to visit Rippavilla. “It’s great to have this attraction to bring people into our community,” Sherriff says. “They come to see the historic sites, the antiques, the architecture. There are so many aspects and so much to learn.”