The grounds of an historic landmark in Hermitage sustained significant damage when derecho storms slammed into the Nashville area May 3-4 with 70-mph winds that downed trees and snapped power lines.
The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson, sustained damage on the property both May 3 and May 4. The mansion lost power, along with about 130,000 homes across the Nashville area, and joined its neighbors with similar downed and damaged trees.
While the damage didn’t match the extensive destruction at the 1,120-acre landmark from the historic 1998 tornado that tore through nearby Lebanon Road, it remained a loss to the estate.
On April 16, 1998, an EF-3 tornado crossed the property, and narrowly missed the mansion. However, nearly 1,000 trees on the grounds were either felled or horribly disfigured. Many of the trees were reportedly planted by Jackson nearly 200 years earlier, said officials.
This month’s straight-line winds spawned from the long-pathed derecho – which is Spanish for straight – knocked down or damaged about 100 trees on the estate, according to Hermitage official Tony Gazzi. A few were about 100 years old. However, he said some of the ones planted in the mid-1800s managed to survive both the 1998 tornado and the recent derecho.
The mansion remains closed because of COVID-19 mandates. It paused operations March 17, according to Erin Horne, a Hermitage spokesperson with Reed Public Relations.
“Since our site is located in Davidson County, which is excluded from Gov. [Bill] Lee’s “Tennessee Pledge” plan, we will heed the guidelines set forth by Metro officials,” said the most recent update on the Hermitage website. “Mayor [John] Cooper’s “Roadmap to Reopening Nashville” includes our site in phase 3 of reopenings. We will reopen as soon as it is safe to do so, and we look forward to welcoming visitors back to our 1,120-acre National Historic Landmark.”
The Hermitage president and CEO Howard J. Kittel recently spoke about the storm in an update.
“Once again in 2020, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage has been impacted by unprecedented happenings in Nashville,” he said. “And once again, our most precious assets have been spared. This week, the derecho – a storm of high winds that tore through Nashville on Sunday and Monday evenings – downed a number of limbs and trees, some old and steely, at the Hermitage.”
In the update, Kittel said the greatest damage was to the site’s electrical system with the mansion, administration building, Cabin by the Spring and the entire Andrew Jackson Center all impacted.
"Electricity has been restored to all areas of Andrew Jackson's Hermitage except our Cabin by the Spring," Horne said Monday. "We hope that power be back up and running in about a week and a half."
Kittel said they were doing all they could to swiftly address the effects of the storms and to protect the site and collection.
Horne said the Hermitage welcomed more than 230,000 visitors last year.