What is an American Country Place Era Estate?
The American Country Place Era movement began in the late 19th-century following the success of the Industrial Revolution, which garnered great fortunes for many American entrepreneurs. With this newly established wealth, many individuals chose to build vast estates in the country, away from the increasingly over-crowded urban metropolitans. Estates built during this time period were designed to express affluence in many different forms; the domestic structure would be large and imposing, formal gardens were grand as well as intricate, and the views from and of the property were untouched except for the splendors of nature.
The individuals who designed these great estates were often just as notable as the wealthy barons who built them. Creating a place that had beauty, as well as a sense of tranquility, was only part of the motive of these extravagant residential undertakings. According to the Cultural Landscape Foundation of America, “[d]esigners worked in close partnership with clients to create extravagant gardens inspired by European and Asian precedents in order to lend a sense of tradition, age, and affluence to what, in many cases, was ‘new money.’ Taking inspiration from European Beaux-Arts design styles, there was a return to symmetry and more formal geometries. Instigated in part by the vast fortunes industrialization created for the wealthy, for most this era ended abruptly with the onset of the Depression.” The Cultural Landscape Foundation
Why is Cheekwood Considered One of the Finest?
Bryant Fleming, the architect of both the house and the surrounding landscape, developed a symbiotic relationship between the views of the house from the grounds and the view from the grounds of the house. Fleming created areas such as the Arbor, known as the Ford Wisteria Arbor, where the Cheekwood landscape is framed as beautifully as a painting.
Due to the foresight of Leslie Cheek, Sr. in 1928 and the property he purchased to create Cheekwood, the historic views are intact today. The tract of land where Cheekwood resides shares nearly 75% of its perimeter with The Warner Parks, managed by the Metropolitan Board of Parks and Recreation of Nashville and Davidson County. Due to the conservation efforts of Warner Parks, Cheekwood is only one of a few examples of American Country Place Era estates that retain their purposeful views.