In the year 1834, the historic home of the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, became engulfed in flames. The fire was successfully extinguished after some time, but it caused major damage to the presidential home.
Once the smoke cleared, the presidential family found that the dining room took the brunt of the fire’s destruction and Jackson’s library was also left badly damaged. Although much of the home’s interiors and furnishings were completely destroyed, many of Jackson’s prized possessions, including his personal papers and War of 1812 relics, were removed from the mansion before the blaze reached the library.
Fast-forward to January 2018. The Hermitage mansion has fully-recovered since the devastating fire that occurred in 1834 and is beginning the installation of a brand-new, state-of-the-art suppression system. A project funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee, The Hermitage has worked closely with the Nashville Fire Marshal’s office to plan for the new system. It’s been three decades since The Hermitage last upgraded its fire suppression system in 1988, and the site’s existing piping and water pressure are now unable to support a traditional sprinkler system.
“We know that Jackson was extremely passionate about preserving The Hermitage,” said president and Chief Executive Officer of the Andrew Jackson Foundation Howard J. Kittell. “By installing this new, state-of-the-art system, we are carrying on Jackson’s legacy and taking every precaution to preserve The Hermitage so it can continue to be enjoyed by visitors for centuries to come.”
For the past 30 years, The Hermitage has used a traditional fire sprinkler system, which works by soaking an area with large quantities of water to suppress a fire until the fire department can arrive and extinguish it. The Hermitage’s new system, called an automatic mist fire suppression system, is ideal for the historic presidential home as it can extinguish fire much faster than a traditional sprinkler system while using much less water. In an almost 200-year-old building that sill has seven sets of original wallpaper, less water means significantly less damage to historic objects inside the mansion as well as the structure itself. Less water also results in less time and money spent on cleanup and repair.
From Jan. 11 until Feb. 28, The Hermitage will open at 10 a.m. and close at 4:30 p.m. with tours of the mansion beginning at 11 a.m. During this time, The Hermitage will also offer a new hands-on activity designed to teach visitors how the presidential home’s fire prevention efforts have evolved over the years. The new activity will give visitors the opportunity to try manufacturing their own fireproof paint. Paining the mansion with fireproof paint was one of the ways Jackson attempted to protect his home following the devastating 1834 fire.
For more information about Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage, visit thehermitage.com.