The Athenaeum Rectory
The Athenaeum Rectory is Moorish-Gothic architecture, not typical of the general building style in 1835. It is the design of Adolphus Heiman, architect in the early 1800's of many buildings and homes in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee area. The Athenaeum Rectory was begun in 1835 as a residence for Samuel Polk Walker, nephew of President James K. Polk. It was completed in 1837 as the home of The Reverend Mr. Franklin Gillette Smith. In 1837, The Reverend Mr. Smith came to Tennessee to be president of The Columbia Female Institute, an Episcopal school for girls. He was a native of Vermont and a graduate of Princeton University.
Historic Elm Springs
Historic Elm Springs is now the General Headquarters for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This mansion was restored and is now used as the National Headquarters for the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. The home was built in 1837. During the war, it was the home of Abram Looney, who served as the Colonel of Company H, First Tennessee Infantry. He was an outspoken Southerner and this almost resulted in the loss of Elm Springs. In November, 1864, the Federal Army, which had occupied Maury County for several months, was preparing defensive positions ahead of the oncoming Confederate troops under Gen. John B. Hood. Their line of defense extended from the Mooresville Pike to the Mt. Pleasant Pike. One of the defensive tactics used was the destruction of important buildings along the line. Elm Springs anchored the eastern flank of their line. Many houses were burned during those days and Elm Springs was slated to be destroyed too. Fires were started that might have burned the house except for the opportune arrival of Confederate troops who extinguished the flames. You will still find the scorch marks in the hall closet.
James K. Polk Ancestral Home
The James K. Polk Ancestral Home in Columbia, Tennessee is the only surviving residence of the eleventh U.S. President (excluding the White House). Samuel Polk, a prosperous farmer and surveyor, built the Federal-style brick house in 1816 while his oldest son James was attending the University of North Carolina. When the future President graduated in 1818, he returned to Tennessee and stayed with his parents until his marriage to Sarah Childress in 1824. While living in his family's Columbia home, James practiced law and began his political career by successfully running for the State Legislature. Today, the Home displays original items from James K. Polk's years in Tennessee and Washington, D.C. including furniture, paintings, and White House china. During Polk's tenure as President, three states were added, the first Women's Rights Convention was held, the sewing machine, gas lighting, and the rotary printing press were invented, and the Gold Rush began.
Nathaniel Frances Cheairs IV and his family lived for several years on the Rippavilla Plantation he built before the Civil War broke out. For ten years, Nathaniel and Susan made their home in a two-story log cabin located at the back of the property. Susan gave birth to three of their four children while living in the cabin. In 1851, the smokehouse and kitchen house were completed. The Cheairs would reside in the upstairs of the kitchen before and during the construction of the mansion. Construction on the mansion commenced in 1852 and was completed in 1855. During the Civil War troops on both sides camped at Rippavilla Plantation and fought part of the Battle of Spring Hill on its grounds. Both Union and Confederate generals used the plantation as their headquarters.
Other historic sites in Columbia
Festivals in Columbia:
Annual Mule Day - held the last weekend in March. "Mule Day" in Columbia, Tennessee has been a tradition since around 1840, when the first Monday in April brought huge crowds to the animal livestock show and Mule Day Market (originally called 'Breeder's Day'). Mules were such a big business in Maury County that, at one time, the Columbia Mule Day had the distinction of being one of the largest livestock markets in the world.
Mule Day, with its festive air eventually evolved into what is now an almost week-long celebration of the mule. Thousands of visitors come to Columbia to take part in the numerous activities ranging from working mule and best of breed events, to horse shows, arts and crafts booths, and a flea market. The smell of barbecue specialties and homemade pies blends with the smoky aroma of roasted corn and funnel cake sweetness.