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Historic Belair Restoration

$5,575 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 37 people in 24 months
Why Belair
My name is Lewis James. In August of 2016, my wife Connie and I purchased the Belair Mansion in Nashville, TN. We were brokenhearted when we visited the property and saw its condition, but we also imagined what it could look like if someone took the time and made the effort to restore it. We researched the history of Belair and knew that it had to be saved, regardless of the obstacles and risks.

In 2014, Belair Mansion was listed on “Historic Nashville” as one of Nashville’s 9 most endangered properties. When the property was listed for sale, we knew developers were looking at it and that this historic treasure might be torn down. 5 ½ acres so close to downtown Nashville would be very desirable for a townhouse or condominium community, but Connie and I made it our goal to stop this from happening.


Sharing Belair with the Community
Belair has been a private residence since 1790, but we want to share this magnificent home with the community. Instead of being a beautiful but inaccessible historic home that people drive past on Lebanon Pike, Belair can become a place for Nashville to experience and enjoy.

We envision Belair becoming a place for meetings, fundraisers, tours, gatherings, and events. Very few, if any, historic mansions in the area have all of this. Imagine a bed and breakfast stay at this beautiful Antebellum mansion. Our goal is to make this very special place available to the public for the first time, so that everyone can make it a part of their lives.

Whenever we share our plans for Belair, people tell us how important the property is to Nashville and get very excited to see it preserved. Belair is unique and needs to be shared. When someone walks into the mansion for the first time, our goal is for them to imagine the splendor of life there almost 200 years ago in the Old South. Belair is full of artistry and unique architectural features, and we know people will treasure the opportunity to explore it.

The mansion is just beautiful inside. From the 13-foot ceilings to the handcrafted fireplaces and beautiful trim throughout the house, there is so much about Belair that is irreplaceable. People will absolutely have a unique experience when they visit. Whether it’s a local business meeting, community meeting, wedding, showcases, mansion tour, or entertainment function, the Belair Mansion can be a place where great memories are made.  



Huge Renovation – We Need Your Help

We knew this would be an arduous and expensive task, but never imagined the extent of renovation, restoration, repair, and deferred maintenance that would be needed to preserve Belair. The more we made repairs, the more we found things that needed repair. The more we renovated, the more renovation needed to be done.

The restoration process started last October, and we have already spent more than twice the original budget for the mansion. Over $570,000 has been spent and now we must find another $675,000 to finish and open it to the public. We will tap into our existing resources for funding, but that will not be enough to finish. Therefore we are asking the community to be part of the restoration and support this historic project.  

Help us transform this property into the place it was meant to be. Help us honor its history and restore this Grand Mansion to its former glory. It is one of the oldest homes in Nashville and is one of only a few pre-civil War Mansions in Middle Tennessee. This property should be enjoyed by the public for years to come.   

Worthy of Preservation
Belair is significant and worthy of preservation because of its architecture as well as its urban location. Historic mansions located in urban areas are very rare. They are frequently torn down due to the value of the land they stand on. Belair is one of these rare mansions, and we feel compelled to preserve it for the benefit of those who might not otherwise be able to come in contact with such an example of Old South architecture.

Representative of the great houses of the well-to-do Southern landowners in the first half of the nineteenth century, it remains as an example of these houses which once were abundant but have now mostly disappeared from the scene, victims of modern progress.



Close to Everyone
Belair sits at the beginning of Downtown Donelson and is a very visible historic and civic landmark as you enter the area. Belair is about 4 miles from the Nashville Airport and 5 ½ miles from downtown along Lebanon Pike.   

Just a Little History
Belair is an important part of the historical development of the area, since many families prominent in the social and economic development of Nashville either lived in or were entertained at Belair.

The first owner of Belle Air was James Mulherin in 1790. At that time, the property was over 1000 acres. Mulherin was part of the James Robertson party that defended Fort Nashborough against attack, and he accompanied Daniel Boone on his first expedition. James Robertson founded Fort Nashborough, which later became Nashville, with John Donelson.

Mulherin sold the property that would become Belle Air to John Harding, who gave the property as a wedding dowry to his son-in-law, Joseph Clay. Joseph Clay married John’s daughter Elizabeth Virginia Harding Clay when she was 15 years old. Joseph and Elizabeth lived in the house for 9 years. Elizabeth died in childbirth at the age of 24 in 1836.

Joseph Clay sold Belle Air to William Nichol in 1836 who lived there until his death in 1878. William Nichol was the mayor of Nashville from 1835 to 1837 and the first president of the Bank of Tennessee. At the end of Civil War, William Nichol’s estate was estimated at one million dollars. He is said to have been the first Tennessee Millionaire.



Full Reward Tier Descriptions
 
Tier 1: Stay Updated ($10)
Receive facebook page updates about the renovation's progress.

Tier 2: Stay Updated ($25)
Attend an open house at Belair and receive facebook page updates about the renovation's progress.

Tier 3: Open House ($50)
Become a permanent founding member.  Your name will be written in the Belair Founding Member's Book which will be permanently displayed in the Mansion for all to view. Attend an open house at Belair for contributors at this level and receive email updates on our progress.

Tier 4: Stay 1 Night ($200)
One-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast, Sunday-Thursday. You will also be a part of our email update list.

Tier 5: Stay 3 Nights ($700)
Three-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast. You will also be a part of our email update list.

Tier 6: Stay 4 Nights ($900)
Four-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast. You will also be a part of our email update list.

Tier 7: Host An Event ($3,000)
Have your name displayed on a permanent plaque as a founding member and access to Belair as a free outdoor event space for a wedding or special event, Monday-Friday (once the mansion has opened). Also receive a group tour of the mansion and be a part of our email update list. 

Tier 8: Plaque & Stay ($5,000)
Have your name displayed on a permanent plaque as a founding member and historic contributor in one of the main first floor rooms of the mansion. Three-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast.  Free access to Belair as a free outdoor event space for a wedding or special event, Monday-Friday (once the mansion has opened).  You will also receive an invite to a mansion dinner with other donors at this level, a group tour, and renovation updates as part of our email list.

Tier 9: Plaque & Event ($10,000)
Have your name displayed on a permanent plaque as a founding member and historic contributor in one of the main first floor rooms of the mansion. Also receive access to Belair as a free outdoor event space for a wedding or special event (once the mansion has opened). A personal tour of the mansion and mansion dinner with other donors at this level is also included, as well as renovation updates as part of our email list.

Tier 10: Plaque & Event+ ($15,000)
All rewards from the Plaque & Event tier as well as a 3-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed & Breakfast.

Tier 11: Name A Room ($20,000)
Have a room of your choice in the mansion permanently named after you or anyone of your choosing (other than a political or religious figure). This name will be prominently displayed above the door to the room and also somewhere in the room. Also receive a 3-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed & Breakfast. A personal tour of the mansion and mansion dinner with other donors at this level is also included, as well as renovation updates on our facebook page.

Tier 12: Name a Room & Free Event ($25,000)
Have a room of your choice in the mansion permanently named after you or anyone of your choosing (other than a political or religious figure). This name will be prominently displayed above the door to the room and also somewhere in the room. You may also have an appropriate painting of your choice hung in the room that you name.

Also receive access to Belair as a free outdoor event space for a wedding or special event (once the mansion has opened). A personal tour of the mansion and mansion dinner with other donors at this level is also included, as well as renovation updates on our facebook page.

 
Note:
"Outdoor Event Space" is defined as follows: access to all outdoor areas. Outdoor event space does not allow access inside the Mansion.  It does not include catering or food of any type.  It does not include other things such as valet parking, chair rental, table rental, tent rental, or music. The event is limited to 200 people.

Bed and Breakfast Guests: 9 out of 10 bedrooms have an ensuite bath, and the other has its own bath across the hall.
+ Read More

$5,575 of $200,000 goal

Raised by 37 people in 24 months
$10
Stay Updated
Receive facebook updates about the renovation’s progress.
$25
Stay Updated
Attend an open house at Belair for and receive facebook updates about the renovation’s progress.
$50
Open House
Become a "Founding Member". Attend an open house at Belair for contributors at this level and receive email updates on our progress.
$200
Stay 1 Night
593 of 600 left
One-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast, Sunday-Thursday as well as email updates on our progress.
$700
Stay 3 Nights
300 of 300 left
Three-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast and email updates on our progress.
$900
Stay 4 Nights
497 of 500 left
Four-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast and email updates on our progress.
$3,000
Host An Event
Become permanent founding Member. Free outdoor event space for a wedding or special event, Monday-Friday (once open). Also receive a group tour of the mansion.
$5,000
Plaque & Stay
100 of 100 left
Your name displayed as a permanent founding member, 3-night stay at the B&B, group tour, mansion dinner invitation. Full reward description at the bottom of pg.
$10,000
Plaque & Event
15 of 15 left
Your name displayed as a permanent founding member, free event space access, personal mansion tour, and mansion dinner. Description at the bottom of pg.
$15,000
Plaque & Event+
35 of 35 left
All rewards from the Plaque + Event tier as well as a 3-night stay at the Belair Mansion Bed and Breakfast.
$20,000
Name A Room
6 of 6 left
Have a room of your choice permanently named after you, or the name of anyone you choose. 3 B&B nights free. Full reward description at the bottom of the page.
$25,000
Name & Event
4 of 4 left
Name a room, hang a painting in the room, and receive access to Belair as a free outdoor event space. Full reward description at the bottom of the page.
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