NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Did you know that the Nashville Zoo was originally located in Joelton? It was moved to its current address at Grassmere in 1997 due to the generosity of the Croft family, who farmed the land, and built their house there two hundred and twelve years ago.

“Some people come up here and see the house and say, ‘why’s this house in the middle of the zoo?’ explained Tori Mason, Historic Site Manager at the Nashville Zoo. “But our story is, why is there a zoo around this house?”

“The Croft House was built in 1810. It was owned by five generations of the same family, and the last two family members to live here were sisters, Margaret and Elise Croft,” Mason said, “and they were the ones who left this, their family farm and their land to be a nature center after their deaths and that’s how the zoo ended up here.”

The Croft House is one of the oldest sites in Davidson County that is open to the public. It’s older than the Belle Meade Mansion or The Hermitage. The only older sites in the county are Traveler’s Rest and the Buchannon Log Home.

During the pandemic, tours of the croft house were suspended for the safety of visitors and employees. But now, for the first time in two years, it’s back open.

“I think our guests are excited to have the historic home open again,” Mason said. “We would hear continually, ‘When’s the house going to be open again? When are we going to be able to see the inside of the house again?’ We’ve seen a lot of interest. We’ve had a lot of people take our tours and come through and just be really interested, and really happy that we have the house open again.”

And if you enjoy seeing real antiques, this is the place for you.

“One of the really unique things about our historic site here is that 95% of what we have inside the home is original,” Mason pointed out, “It was passed down through those five generations of family members and so we have original pieces of furniture and china and portraits and photographs.”

If you want to tour the house, it’s there for you seven days a week.

“Our tours are offered daily between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.,” Mason explained. “We do several different styles of tours. We do a guided tour that’s a forty-five-minute tour with an interpreter telling you about our story and pointing out different things inside the house. But we also do self-guided tours for those who may not be able to stand the forty-five-minute tour with young children or they just want to come in and take a look around and be on their way to see the rest of the zoo. So, we offer a little bit of everything for everyone.”

So, we can thank the Croft family for their generosity in donating the land which ultimately became the Nashville Zoo. It has brought enjoyment and education to the public for the last twenty-five years, and many more to come.