Panel 1 portrays James K. Polk, born in North Carolina, who served as Governor of Tennessee and a seven term U.S. Congressman before being elected the 11th President of the United States. During his four-year term (1845-49) Polk established an independent Treasury, settled the Oregon boundary dispute with Great Britain, and oversaw the purchase of California. He carried out the annexation of Texas from Mexico, which resulted in war and the conquest of the Southwest. Having promised at the outset not to run for a second term, Polk returned to his Vine Street home in Nashville. He died of cholera soon thereafter and is buried on Capitol Hill in Nashville in a tomb designed by Philadelphia architect William Strickland, who had been chosen to build Tennessee's state house.
Panel 2 shows Strickland with two of his best-known buildings: The First (now Downtown) Presbyterian Church (1849-1851) and the Tennessee State Capitol (1845-1859). Strickland had apprenticed under America's first professional architect, Benjamin Latrobe. Like his mentor, Strickland was a proponent of the classical revival in architecture, as can been seen in the pediments, columns and cupola of the Capitol. The Egyptian-revival style of the church building was a departure from the Greek Revival designs for which he is best-known. He died in 1854, shortly before the Capitol's completion, and is buried in a niche in the north portico.
Panel 3 presents Philip Lindsley, a Presbyterian minister and classical scholar from Princeton University who was the founding President of the University of Nashville.
Panel 4 is a gathering of notable Nashville homes dating from early to mid 1800s. From left, they are: Travellers Rest (1799) Belmont Mansion (ca. 1850) Belle Meade Plantation (1845) Two Rivers (1859) and Clover Bottom (1858).
Panel 5 records the introduction of railroads to middle Tennessee. In 1850, the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad's first locomotive engine arrived by steamboat. This image depicts engine # 8, The Davidson, an 1855 wood-burning locomotive that would be one of the first trains to travel from to Louisville from Nashville when the L&N line was opened in 1859.
Alcove 7: The Civil War