NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Twenty-three years ago Friday a historic outbreak of at least thirteen tornadoes ravaged Middle Tennessee.
This included what was known as the infamous “Nashville Tornado” that traveled for 28 miles from Davidson County into Wilson County. The monster storm killed one person and injured sixty others.
The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, also took a direct hit.
While the mansion only suffered superficial damage, over 1,000 trees were uprooted across the property.
“The carriage drive that leads up to the mansion was lined with cedar trees planted while Jackson was still living here,” explained Howard Kittell, Hermitage President and CEO.
“And probably two-thirds of those trees were destroyed in the tornado. You see pictures of it and again from the time. There are the trunks of trees laying all over the carriage drive and the front lawn of the mansion.”
But despite the damage, the spirit of our 7th President may have been looking over his property.
“Prior to the tornado, the tomb was surrounded by magnolia trees,” Kittell said. “The tornadoes took out all of those magnolia trees that surrounded the tomb.”
Kittell added the tomb wasn’t damaged, “I like to think it was Jackson up there kind of defending his tomb.”
Some good did come from the trees. The Hermitage found a way to salvage them.
“Gibson offered to make some guitars out of the wood in order to help us raise funds for the restoration of the trees on the property,” explained Marsha Mullin, Hermitage Vice President of Collection and Research.
“They made three special guitars, like this one, that were given to us and the Smithsonian. And then they made 25, also Les Pauls, but not quite as heavily decorated, that they allowed us to sell,” said Mullin.
The good news is that the mansion survived, and is there for us to continue to enjoy Tennessee and American history.