A Day at Oaklands Mansion, Frank Caperton, November 26, 2016
I visited Murfreesboro’s Oaklands Mansion on this beautiful afternoon. Oaklands offers some of the finest Italianate architecture
I enjoy ‘gee-whiz’ facts including (thank you Oaklands Mansion for these incredible facts!):
1. Wealthy Memphis widow Elizabeth Swope purchased Oaklands Mansion and the property for $8,505 in 1884. Eventually the property was inherited by her daughter, Tempe, and son-in-law, George Darrow, the first millionaire in Murfreesboro. Darrow was godfather to Frank Gumm, Frank Gumm was the father of Frances Gumm, Frances Gumm better known as Judy Garland. There is a Gumm community located out Manchester Highway near the Rutherford County line.
2. A 130-foot-tall white oak tree on the property is listed on the Tennessee Landmark and Historic Tree Register. Sprouted in the 1770s, the massive oak that measures at least 60 inches in diameter is one of the oldest in the county.
3. The spring adjacent to Oaklands Mansion was used by the Native American population as far back as 10,000 years ago. They hunted in the area and used the spring for drinking water. The same spring is still flowing and is the same one the Union soldiers drank from and the Maney family used as a well. A spring house was built around it and used to keep food cool.
4. There are several items on display in Oaklands Mansion that lean toward the macabre. In a back hallway you’ll see a display of hair art that was woven from real human hair, as well as a postmortem portrait (commonplace) of Lavinia Maney, who died as a baby. Dr. James Maney’s medical instruments are on display in the house, including bone saws and tourniquets.
5. From 1954 to 1957, Oaklands sat vacant and fell prey to vandals. By 1958 the mansion and 35.5 acres was sold by H.C. Elrod to the city of Murfreesboro for $40,000 in order to expand public housing in the area. But in 1959, Oaklands Association was organized by a group of concerned women who wanted to save the historic site. Eventually Oaklands Mansion and 0.3 acres was deeded to Oaklands Association for $1 with the stipulation that the mansion be open to the public as a museum within three years. The ladies began restoration and opened for tours within one year.