Restoring the Reflecting Pool
Within the past two years, Cheekwood’s conservation initiatives have expanded to include preservation and restoration projects focused on the original landscape architecture of the Cheekwood estate. The fundamental commitment made to continue the dedicated journey towards comprehensive historic preservation remains at the forefront of institutional initiatives. This July, Cheekwood kicked off another exciting undertaking to restore one of the estate’s most beloved original garden features within the seven-acre historic core.
From July through late August 2021, attention has again been turned toward significant garden statuaries, water features, and historic landscaping. After successfully completing work on Cheekwood’s grotto and classical Carrera marble statue, The Bather, in 2020, the Italianate Reflecting Pool has become the next focal point of historic initiatives. In effort to conserve and restore landscape architect Bryant Fleming’s original concept for one of Cheekwood’s most popular gardens, much care and energy is being applied to reinterpreting all aspects of the area’s historic aesthetics. The classical muses Thalia, goddess of comedy and poetry, and Urania, goddess of astronomy, that flank the pool’s edges are receiving special care and treatment to ensure structural integrity and cleanliness.
After having weathered the Tennessee elements for ninety years, conservators will be removing decades of biological growth from these mid-nineteenth century cast concrete statues in order to more closely resemble their initial coloring when the Cheek’s first purchased and installed them in their garden. In addition to treatment of the original statuaries, highly skilled masons are carving, repairing and replacing the limestone fountain bases, cascading weir, and the decorative curved supporting walls upon which the muses perch. To further accentuate these updates, an additional enhancement will be made to the restoration through the inclusion of functional fountain features to reintroduce the natural gentle sound of flowing water to the Reflecting Pool as echoed throughout all of Fleming’s waterway designs on the estate. Final touches to refresh landscaping and Leslie Cheek Sr.’s prized boxwoods are anticipated to be made in late-August, with a projected project completion and debut just in time for Labor Day. We are eager to share this restored space of classical beauty and tranquility with all in the weeks ahead!
This project is made possible through the generous bequest of the Hays Foundation in addition to funding for support of historic initiatives through the Cheekwood 1929 Club.