Tucked behind the Nashville Zoo is Grassmere, a historic Tennessee estate.
The two remaining members of the Croft family bequeathed it as a nature study center.
Now, you can tour the historic Croft House and farm as part of your Nashville Zoo visit.
Or, take a virtual walking tour of the historic Croft House and farm below.
The Grassmere Farm At Nashville Zoo
The Croft House, built in 1810, was originally Federal style. The Italianate flourishes were added later, after the Civil War. I love the way Grassmere’s green shutters punctuate its whitewashed brick (see above photo).
After you admire the stately facade, stroll along the back of the Croft House. You’ll note a long, utilitarian porch and its rear brick kitchen. Tennessee summers were too hot for kitchens inside the home, so detatched kitchens were the norm.
Before you investigate Grassmere’s outbuildings, veer right to the newly constructed barn. It’s a beautiful building, in and of itself. I love the picturesque green bench, handsome wooden rafters, and cobblestone floor.
Inside, each stall is labelled with an animal’s name and description. Most days, the Nashville Zoo’s farm animals are grazing in the adjacent field. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet an authentic Tennessee Walking Horse up close and personal. ( A discreet sign warns against sticking fingers too close to his mouth, though!)
Behind the barn, you’ll see fenced pastures with sheep, goats, horses, and a giant steer.
Exit the barn and pasture using the rear path. It loops around to a shed full of antique farm implements. Behind the shed you’ll find a real chicken coop. My kids were more excited about the chickens than the elephants–go figure!
My favorite part of the Grassmere area is its garden, tended on a volunteer basis by Davidson County’s Master Gardeners. Take a moment to open the garden gate and stroll its mulched paths.
Behind the brick kitchen is a small herb garden, complete with sundial. The gardeners used native Tennessee stones for paving a casual circle at its center. You can just imagine the lady of the house stepping out for a handful of sage and thyme!
In the far left corner lies the Croft family cemetary. There are some lovely old monuments within the small space.
As you head back toward the zoo proper, you can peer into a log cabin to see a typical slave dwelling. There is also a small brick smokehouse for curing meats.
Planning Your Visit To The Nashville Zoo’s Grassmere Farm
- Pick up a keepsake brochure with more information in the mailbox at the Grassmere entrance.
- Tours of the Croft House interior vary according to the seasons.
- During summer, tours are scheduled daily beginning at 10 am.
- Check the board on its front porch for the next tour time.