NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — You can trace Nashville Zoo’s roots all the way back 235 years.
It all started before Tennessee ever became a state of the Union. From the original 1786 land grant to today, the Grassmere property has witnessed more than two centuries of changes.
- Grassmere historic home, second oldest residence in Davidson Co. open to the public
- Five generations of same family lived at Grassmere Farm
- Home built by Col. Michael C. Dunn, completed in 1810
- Purchased by Dunn’s son-in-law, Lee Shute, in 1846
- Shute gifted his son, William and his wife Lavinia, the 346-acre property at $5
- Sweet potatoes, corn, wheat and hay were primary crops
- Swine and cattle raised
- Flowers and apples sold
- Served as family farm for 175 years
- Granddaughter’s of Shute, Margaret and Elise Croft born in 1889 and 1894
TURN OF THE CENTURY
- Croft family moved to Cuba in 1902, but the girls returned every summer
- Morton family tenants 1919 to 1972
- 1931 Margaret and Elise returned to Grassmere permanently
- 1964 entered agreement with Children’s Museum of Nashville (Adventure Science Center) that upon deaths museum would own property and buildings
- Agreement included the property would be used as a “nature study center”
- Margaret passes away in 1974, Elise in 1985
Tennessee 225: Dive into the history of the Volunteer State.
A NEW BEGINNING
- 1990 Grassmere Wildlife Park opened
- 1995 property closed for financial reasons, becoming Nashville Metro property
- City bound by the sister’s agreement so the Nashville Zoo was invited to move from Joelton to Grassmere
- 1997 Nashville Zoo took over management of property
- 1998 Croft historic home opened to visitors
- 1999 Grassmere Historic Farm opened
- 2000 Critter Encounters, first interactive exhibit opens
- 2001 officially becomes Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
- 2004 receives accreditation from Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)
- 2019 HCA Healthcare Veterinary Center opens
News 2 has partnered with Nashville Zoo to bring you weekly segments of Zoopalooza. You can watch them on News 2 on Good Morning Nashville on Saturday and right here on WKRN.com.