Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Grassmere Cemetery, Nashville Zoo, Nashville, Davidson County, TN

The last thing you might expect to see at a trip to the zoo is a cemetery! There is one at the Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee. The historic house here was built in 1810 by Michael C Dunn. Dunn later sold the home to his son-in-law, Lee Shute, who later gave the home and land to his son, William and new bride, Lavinia. One of their daughters married Willam Croft, and his daughters, Elise and Margaret, eventually came to live at Grassmere until their deaths. It was their idea to leave the home and land to the city of Nashville as a place to study animals and nature.

The land was owned by the Children's Museum for many years. Eventually, in 1996, the Nashville Zoo at Joelton closed and moved to the Grassmere Park. Despite being a zoo featuring wild animals such as tigers and elephants, the area around the Croft home has been maintained as a working 19th century farm. The home can be toured, there is a full garden, barn with farm animals, and the family cemetery.

Those buried here include original owner Michael C Dunn(1770-1853) and his wife Elizabeth(1781-1837); his son John R Dunn(1803-1836); the Croft sisters, Margaret(1889-1974) and Elise(1894-1985); and various other family members. Supposedly the Shute family members were moved to Mt Olivet in Nashville, but the marker for Lavinia is still here and there are no markers for them at Mt Olivet.