The Cheekwood Campaign

The Cheekwood Campaign

The Cheekwood Campaign

The Cheekwood Campaign, the largest in the institution’s 61-year history, secured funding to enhance the historic estate’s gardens and facilities, elevate the guest experience, and increase endowment, exceeding its original goal of $30 million, with pledges totaling more than $37 million.

An unprecedented effort that began quietly in 2015, The Cheekwood Campaign was completed in the summer of 2021. Created to address decades of deferred restoration in both the gardens and facilities, increase endowment, and establish capital reserve funds to ensure the ongoing and long-term care of the estate, the Campaign also served to initiate the first phase of Cheekwood’s Master Site Plan, making possible enhancements to the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail, Blevins Japanese Garden, and Frist Learning Center as well as the new Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden. Following the Campaign, Cheekwood’s endowment increased from $4.8 million to over $20 million (with pledges for an additional $1.5 million), and an institutional commitment to continue to raise funds for its endowment through planned gifts recognized by the Homer Gibbs Legacy Society.

More than 350 donors contributed to The Cheekwood Campaign, with nine donors providing seven-figure gifts, including the Ann & Monroe Carell Foundation, the Bracken Foundation, and the Frist Foundation, joined by Melba & Bill Blevins, Martin Brown, Sr. & Family, Mrs. James C. “Tooty” Bradford, Jr., and Mr. and Mrs. William H. Freeman. Both the Cheekwood Board and Senior Staff supported the Campaign with 100% participation. Campaign leadership included Honorary Co-Chairs Jim and Nicky Cheek, Joan Cheek, and Will T. Cheek, Jr; Co-Chairs Jim Hunt and the late Jimmy Webb, both former Chairs of the Cheekwood Board of Trustees; and Jane O. MacLeod, President & CEO of Cheekwood.

About The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden

The Bracken Foundation Children’s Garden is a new and exciting permanent family feature, made possible by lead gift from The Bracken Foundation and endowed with additional gifts from the community. The new two-acre Children’s Garden, which serves as a welcoming and accessible reflection of the estate and garden’s unique offerings of gardens, nature, art, and history, is situated between the Howe Garden and the Frist Learning Center. Paying homage to Bryant Fleming’s inspiration for the original design of Cheekwood, the Children’s Garden incorporates a series of connected garden rooms amid a woodland setting, alongside an open lawn with multiple occasions to experience scenic vistas, characteristic of a Country Place Estate, while fostering creative and imaginative play for children.

Learn more

About the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail

Renovations to the Ann & Monroe Carell Jr. Family Sculpture Trail were made possible by a generous $5 million gift from the Ann & Monroe Carell Foundation to both enhance and endow the trail. New features include an upgraded entrance, wayfinding and signage, and enhanced horticulture. Lighting has been added to the Hickory Loop, which is now fully paved, making this portion of The Carell Trail accessible for all, even after dusk, and all sculptures have been restored. The Carell Trail was established in 1999 through the generosity of Ann and Monroe Carell Jr. and features ten works of modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture on a 1.5-mile woodland path.

About The Frist Learning Center

The renovation of the Frist Learning Center, Cheekwood’s hub of education, exploration, and discovery, was made possible by a generous $4 million gift from The Frist Foundation. Located in the building which originally served as the Cheek family’s horse stables and garages, the Frist Learning Center was created in the late 1990s with support from the Frist Foundation to accommodate Cheekwood’s year-round educational and public programming. The Foundation’s recent gift provided for enhanced art studios, meeting and classroom spaces, and visitor amenities including the addition of Café 29.

About the Blevins Japanese Garden

Renovations to the Blevins Japanese Garden were made possible by a lead gift from the Blevins Family to both enhance and endow the garden. The new site plan features enhanced horticulture, new wayfinding and a secondary entrance, new gates, gazebo and viewing benches, and the restoration and repairs of existing structures. Formally established in 1990, Shōmu-en: The Pine Mist Garden, as the garden is known, was designed by David Engel, one of the most important designers of Japanese gardens in the United States during the twentieth century. The origins of this nationally recognized garden began in the 1960s, when a community with a shared vision for friendship between Tennessee and Japan began the effort to establish a Japanese garden at Cheekwood.

About The Homer Gibbs Legacy Society

Building on the philanthropy of generous individuals and civic groups that helped to found Cheekwood in 1960, members of the Legacy Society share the common interest in preserving the heritage of this beloved place for generations to come by leaving a legacy that ensures those who follow will continue to enjoy Cheekwood’s treasures.

There are several ways to support Cheekwood through estate planning. To discuss options, please contact, or contact any member of the Cheekwood Legacy Council listed on Cheekwood’s website. The Legacy Council is a distinguished group of estate planning professionals ready to assist families who wish to include Cheekwood in their estate plans.

Back to Top