Entertainment, On A High Note

A Nashville Newcomer gets charmed by Cheekwood

It’s safe to say that Cheekwood is one of the most beloved establishments in Nashville. Home to the prominent Cheek family behind the Maxwell House coffee brand, the lavish property dates back to 1932. With its history, prominence in Nashville and famously gorgeous gardens, it was imperative as a Nashville newcomer to visit this esteemed location.

The day could not have been a more perfect one, as the sun was shining brightly on a beautiful Sunday afternoon with not a cloud in the sky. But something tells me that Cheekwood would be just as glorious even on a gloomy day with its stunning floral displays and interesting exhibits. The grandioseness is apparent the minute one steps foot on the property with its beautiful setting of vast halls and blooming nature.

The Cheekwood mansion was once the home of the prominent Cheek family. PHOTO BY CILLEA HOUGHTON

The Cheekwood mansion was once the home of the prominent Cheek family. PHOTO BY CILLEA HOUGHTON

No visit to Cheekwood is complete without lunch at the Pineapple Room, which offers a scenic dining experience with floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the property’s manicured lawn. I had to try the classic Pineapple Boat, which features a scoop of their classic chicken salad atop a fresh slice of pineapple surrounded by an array of delicious fruit. After lunch, we strolled along the beautiful gardens blooming with thousands of flowers ranging from tulips to bearded irises. With more than 100 acres of grounds and 11 gardens, each one offers its own unique personality, all while retaining an equal amount of beauty.

Currently taking over a handful of the property’s lawns is an exhibit by Steven Tobin titled “Southern Roots” featuring a variety of intricate steel root sculptures. Inside the museum are even more of Tobin’s fascinating works, including an all-glass structure made from vintage photographs, in addition to an intriguing display of colorful clay art created when the artist placed an explosive device inside a ball of clay, with the each out coming design different from the next. The video inside the exhibit chronicling this process is the kind that keeps you fascinatingly hooked, watching as these clay figures explosively transform into captivating designs. This indoor display ends its run on May 29, so be sure to check it out before it leaves Cheekwood.

And the mansion itself is something to marvel at, resembling more of a grand event hall than a house. Inside are winding marble staircases that lead guests all around the estate past the dining hall, beautiful event space that’s perfect for weddings, and even an eye-catching fiber-optic chandelier created by Bruce Munro. Complete with a stone deck overlooking the pool and green hills and trees as far as the eye can see, the Cheek mansion is a true reflection of the beauty and history this family left behind.

Just one of Cheekwood's many beautiful flower displays. PHOTO BY CILLEA HOUGHTON

Just one of Cheekwood’s many beautiful flower displays. PHOTO BY CILLEA HOUGHTON

But perhaps the sweetest element to Cheekwood is the Trains! display out that includes 265 feet of tracks featuring an endless loop of toy trains running through tunnels above a bed of flowers.Coming from someone new to the area, it’s easy to see why Cheekwood is so renowned in the region. Simply walking through the gardens caused me to be wowed at every turn with the endless number of flower beds and blooming trees consuming the property. From hearing the stories from the couple who came with me about what a joy Cheekwood was for their children growing up to all the impressive programs they have going on today, Cheekwood offers so much more than its beauty.

It’s the perfect spot for a picnic in the park that also serves as an elegant tapestry of history, and is simply a lovely place to clear your mind and soak in the scenery. Watching as guests took advantage of the gorgeous day, and beloved property, as they sat along the ponds for a picnic and spent the day with loved ones, Cheekwood is clearly one of Nashville’s most treasured gems, an identity it has had for more than 80 years, and is sure to bestow for 80 more.

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