This is not the residence of the Polks, but rather James Polk’s parents’ house. Both houses the Polks lived in – in Columbia and in Nashville have been torn down. This house was built in 1816 and has been restored and furnished with pieces from the Polks’ various residences as well as some of Polk’s family pieces.
This double parlor is gorgeous. The chandeliers are from Polk Place in Nashville and Sarah Polk paid $54 each for them – quite extravagant at the time. The dining room table in the far room is also from Polk Place and pulls apart into two separate tables or can be set up as one large table, as it is currently.
Source: A Special House booklet
This is a close up of the table from the picture. This is Egyptian marble in a mosaic design. It was given to President Polk upon his retirement.
Sarah picked this china out for the White House (this isn’t state china, which there also is a Polk version of). The flowers were all from Tennessee and see the little symbol at the top? That’s the presidential seal and Sarah was first to use it.
Now I don’t have a lot of pictures from the interior, since there is no photography in the house, but the tour also includes several rooms upstairs. One room is done as James’ study and has some of his original books and his glasses. There are also several of Sarah’s dresses on display. They also have pieces of Sarah’s jewelry, one of her canes and several lovely fans.
This is the detached kitchen. The kitchens were separate to keep the house cooler in the summer and to help prevent fires. The slaves (this was Tennessee and the Polks were slave-owners) would bring the food into the main dining room through the back door.
This is a cast iron fountain in the back courtyard. It came from Polk Place and was made in 1820.
Many of the plantings in the gardens are descendent plants from Polk Place. The gardens also include statues representing the four seasons.
The Polks are buried on the grounds of the state capitol in Nashville. Polk was not originally buried here, but moved later.
Things to Remember When Visiting:
- Columbia, Tennessee is a relatively small town, but the signage is not very good, so make sure you have the street address. Once you are on the backstreets, its better.
- There is parking right in front of the museum.
- The museum keeps regular business hours during the week and is also open on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Tickets are $7/person for adults, which is actually very reasonable. It includes a guide house tour and a self-guided tour of the gardens and the exhibit space.
- The Polks are not buried here, but Nashville, where they are, is only about an hour away.