“Wish You Were Here: Retreat to Tennessee’s Historic Resorts,” an exhibit showcasing the glory days of Tennessee’s resort culture, opens May 15, to run through August 31, and is free and open to the public. The exhibit features items from the collections of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, located in downtown Nashville at 403 7th Avenue North, across from the State Capitol.
Whether patrons of old sought “The Carlsbad of America” or “The Switzerland of Tennessee” that might be “Patronized by the Most Aristocratic Southern Families” or simply sought a health and pleasure resort “Where Heat, Dust, Mosquitoes, Malaria and Hay Fever are Unknown,” it could be found in Tennessee. In this exhibit, the Tennessee State Library and Archives opens a window into a bygone era.
Imagine yourself whisked from a railroad platform onto a hack and transported along a dusty country road to alight at a fine hotel amidst the fanfare of a brass band. Perhaps you are under the weather and have been drawn by testimonials and the promise of “healing waters” for drinking or bathing. Perhaps you seek to escape the unbearable heat and ill health found in your urban dwelling. Maybe it is the tales of the bountiful table set by the establishment that lure you. The promise of dance pavilions, bowling halls, fishing, hunting, swimming, card playing, horse and buggy rides, ping pong, tennis, croquet, pool, or billiards may have caught your fancy, or simply the thought of lolling on the porches, verandas, and bath houses. The historic resort of that age could fill the bill from rustic to lavish. Establishments ranged from those employing French cooks, resident physicians, and orchestras for the “season” to those offering up humble yet scrumptious country cooking and a simple string band.
What fire, modern medicine, the Depression, the automobile, and the highway system have torn asunder, TSLA resurrects. The Tennessee State Library and Archives calls upon its vast collection and presents photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, letters, postcards, advertisements, old hotel registers, and other memorabilia to guide you back in time and tell the story of the waters, the accommodations, and the amusements surrounding the age of Tennessee’s historic resorts. Remember, as with most of these resorts, this exhibit will only run during the summer.
For further information contact Darla Brock at the Tennessee State Library and Archives, 615-253-6470.