Historic Markers Across Tennessee

The Work Yard

Marker ID:  
Location: at The Hermitage Mansion at the Hermitage historical site, 4580 Rachels Lane, Hermitage, TN
County: Davidson
Coordinates: N 36° 12.93    W 086° 36.775
  36.2155    -86.61291666
Waymark: None


The Work Yard
The World Behind the Mansion

The stately trees and park-like grounds of today’s Hermitage bear scant resemblance to the working plantation of Andrew Jackson’s time. As the farm developed, trees were cleared to make room for fields and pastures.

By the time the first photographs of The Hermitage were taken after the Civil War, few trees remained on the landscape.

In Andrew Jackson’s day, the yard behind the mansion hummed with activity and contained a mismatched assortment of log, frame, and brick buildings. These structures include slave housing, poultry houses, and workrooms, as well as wood stacks and animal pens. The backyard area closest to the mansion was fenced. It is likely that access to this area was limited to the enslaved who actually worked in the kitchen or mansion. The Jackson’s did not trust the slaves, and so located the smokehouse and icehouse, where valuable food was stored, within the backyard fence for greater security.

A great deal of work, such as butchering, chicken plucking, candle and soap making, and laundry took place outdoors. Poultry and hogs roamed freely. The area was muddy when wet and dusty when dry. It was noisy, messy, and above all else, a working landscape.

Cotton Gin

No pictures exist of the cotton gin Jackson built in 1807, and it is likely that his gin and press went through two or three different versions. This print shows a typical press for baling cotton and a gin house where cottonseeds were removed and processed cotton stored.

With its gleaming white façade and ornamented landscape, the front of the mansion blocked visitor’s view of the backyard and fields where the entire economy of the plantation rested on the backs of those Jackson held in bondage. Letters, photographs, and archaeology suggest that, in addition to the buildings still standing, these work areas, buildings, storage facilities, and structures may also have been on the farm.

Erected by The Hermitage


More information:
The Hermitage, The Home of President Andrew Jackson
Wikipedia: Andrew Jackson
The White House: Andrew Jackson
Wikipedia: Slavery