Ravenswood renovations approach completion
By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
Imagine getting married on the porch of this stately mansion built in 1825. Ravenswood was built by James Hazard Wilson II and is now protected as a part of the Brentwood Parks system. Carole Robinson
Imagine getting married on the front porch of a historic, antebellum home and hosting the reception on the grounds and lower level of the house.
The quiet remote setting of Ravenswood Mansion and its surrounding 400-acres can bring that dream to life.
|The light taken from an old locomotive is a fitting decor lighting the walkway by the kitchen door, a separate building behind the main house, since Mr. Wilson was among a group of prosperous landowners in the area who built the railroad that still crosses Concord Road near I-65. Carole Robinson
Located just a quarter of a mile off Wilson Pike in Brentwood and two centuries away in time to a more peaceful era, Ravenswood is the perfect setting for parties, weddings, business meetings or conferences.
Almost four years after it was purchased by the City of Brentwood, from the sons of Reese and Marcella Vivrette Smith, the restoration and renovation is almost complete and reservations are being accepted for events after Aug 1.
Ravenswood Mansion is a lavish, two-story, antebellum home built in 1825 by James Hazard Wilson II as a gift for his bride, Emeline.
It was named for the family’s close friend Sam Houston, who was called “the raven” by the Cherokee Indians.
The plantation once sat on several hundred acres of land stretching across the valley to Oak Hall, also known as Century Oak and Inglehame—gifts to Wilson’s sons Samuel and James III.
“It is said Emeline used to stand in the parlor and look across the valley at her sons’ homes,” said Amanda Bledsoe, community relations specialist for the City of Brentwood.
In 1961, the Smiths purchased Ravenswood and 500-acres. They restored and updated the house and enjoyed many years living there. In 2010, several years after the couple died, their three sons sold the house, outbuildings and 320-acres to the City of Brentwood, with the purpose of developing a comprehensive public park. The City named the park the Marcella Vivrette Smith Park.
In 2011, Brentwood added 80-acres more to the park.
With phase one almost completed, additional renovation phases include paved hiking trails through wooded areas and open fields connecting the park to the city’s existing trail system and the addition of multi-purpose athletic fields in a section near the road.
A large portion of the property’s 400-acre park will remain undeveloped.
The unattached kitchen and the two brick slave quarters will be historically staged to add ambience. A cistern with the original 1800-era Boss pump and the root cellar remain near the house.
They have been repaired and sealed off for safety. A springhouse near the creek is undergoing its own revival.
“The pool was taken out and additional bathrooms were put in the pool house to accommodate large events,” Bledsoe said.
There are some antiques on display throughout the house—some donated, some on loan—but they are merely for background and most can be moved as necessary for an event, Bledsoe said.
The scattering of furniture provides ambience, but the three main rooms on the first floor can be transformed to accommodate 20-30 people per room for meetings, 75-100 persons for a seated dinner or up to 200 for a standing reception. The spacious old kitchen has been updated with modern equipment for caterers. Carole Robinson
Posted on: 2/22/2014