A visit to Nashville, Tennessee would not be complete without a stop at Music City USA's newest travel destination, the magnificent Fontanel Mansion and Farm.
Built by country music star Barbara Mandrell and her husband Ken Dudney in 1988, the 27,000 square-foot log home boasts three stories, over 20 rooms, thirteen bathrooms, five fireplaces, two kitchens, indoor pool and even an indoor shooting range on 136 acres of pristine land. An exclusive spot for the stars, the home and grounds have been the setting for numerous photo and video shoots, CMT's top-rated "Gone Country" show and more.
Music executives Marc Oswald and Dale Morris, who manage artists such as Alabama, John Rich and Gretchen Wilson, purchased the home in 2002, and last week it became the first and only home open to the public for guided tours.
Before opening, extensive updating was done to the mansion to bring it up to ADA compliance. In addition to new entrances and exits, wheelchair ramps and two elevators were added to ensure anyone with a disability could visit every room on every floor of the magnificent home. My daughter is wheelchair-bound, and my wife and I took her through the home for a "dry run" before it opened. I'm happy to say it passed with flying colors. Two of the four new shuttles that take visitors from the new Farm House Restaurant at Fontanel up the mile-long driveway to the mansion are equipped with wheelchair lifts and tie-downs.
A ticket to tour the Mansion at Fontanel is like a ticket to the inside life of Nashville's most famous export. Once the family home of country music legend Barbara Mandrell, the first artist to be named CMA Entertainer of the Year in consecutive years, the Mansion at Fontanel has been filled to the brim with photos, memorabilia and personal items from the period when the Mandrell family lived there. Additionally, the personal collections of current owners Dale Morris and Marc Oswald are featured which include one of a kind items, personal photos, and keepsakes of the artists they currently manage, including Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and many others. But make no mistake, this is not a museum. At Fontanel, visitors get to do more than just look, guests are welcome to touch, see, feel and relax in this magnificent home.
Folks can learn about the process of building this log home, mere minutes from downtown Nashville, yet lifetimes away from the average home. Visitors can also learn about the land and how the Mandrell family started a legacy of sustainability that survives today.
A tour of the Mansion is guided in small groups room by room, with amazing sights and special stories around every corner. Tour guides escort guests from the moment they walk into the front door through the entire home starting in the great room and ending in the glorious sunlit pool atrium. There, guests can grab refreshments, stay and relax as long as they wish, discussing the experience of Fontanel with experts and fellow visitors. Tours are available 7 days a week from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. Tickets are $19 for adults, $16 for seniors, $9 for youths and kids 6 and under are FREE. After touring the mansion, guests who have worked up an appetite can dine at The Farm House Restaurant at Fontanel. With over 140 seats, the Farm House showcases a "farm to fork" menu with items that feature local produce, dairy and meats delivered from area farms and sustainable sources. Offering southern-style comfort food with a fun creative twist, the Farm House has an on-site organic teaching garden and houses photos of the farmers and families that produce the food for the restaurant. The Farm House serves breakfast lunch and dinner 7 days a week. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. - 9 p.m. Local arts and crafts are available in the Fontanel Stone House Gift Shop as well.
The property is managed by Fontanel Attractions, made up of entertainment entrepreneurs Dale Morris and Marc Oswald, world-class developer, Alex Marks and Tom Morales, owner of TomKats, Inc., with TomKats, Inc. as the operating partner. Perhaps best known locally for managing the Loveless Cafe and internationally for the 750 movies catered over 20 years, TomKats' experience ensures Fontanel Mansion's role as a cherished community asset in the heartbeat of Music City. For more information visit www.fontanelmansion.com
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