Hawthorn Hill stands out as a time capsule of upper middle class life during the 19th century, with a history that spans the evolution of Tennessee over 200 years. As former hunting grounds first claimed by white settlers in 1792, the house and property eventually became home to War of 1812 veteran Colonel Humphrey Bate, his family of 11 children, and the enslaved men, women, and children kept there over four decades. Several generations of the Bate family grew up and lived at Hawthorne Hill, with perhaps the most notable being Dr. Humphrey Howell Bate, Jr. Famous as a member of string band The Possum Lickers, early "darlings" and frequent opening act of the Grand Ole Opry program, Dr. Bate credited a former enslaved man with teaching him the harmonica as a child. In addition to his own musical career, Bate was known as a recruiter of musical talent for the Ryman stage. He recruited DeFord Bailey, an African American harmonica player who later gained the name "The Harmonica Wizard," as the first African American to play the Opry, and Bate's daughter Alcyone Bate Beasley was the first female musician on the show.
The site is not open for tours, but guests are welcome to stop for a visit of the grounds and exterior of this preserved state historic site.
About the Organization:
Located in picturesque Sumner County just 45 minutes from downtown Nashville, Historic Castalian Springs is a nonprofit dedicated to preserving and interpreting the diverse local and regional history at its three state historic sites: Cragfont, Wynnewood, and Hawthorn Hill. Each property tells a unique story and brings visitors into the complex web of culture and events in 18th and 19th century Tennessee. Visit https://www.historiccastaliansprings.org/ to learn more about daily tours and special events.
For the most up-to-date hours and information, please contact Hawthorn Hill State Historic Site directly.