Grassmere Collection, 1786-1985

Snapshot postcard of Margaret and Elise Croft

The Grassmere Collection, 1786-1985 (bulk 1880-1978), is centered around five generations of the same family that lived at Grassmere Farm, Nashville, Tennessee: Michael C. Dunn (1770-1853), Lee Shute (1797-1879), William Dickson Shute (1834-1916) and the Croft sisters, Margaret (1889-1974) and Elise (1894-1985). The home, built in 1810, is one of the oldest residences in Davidson County open to the public. The property served as a family farm for 175 years. Sisters Margaret and Elise Croft willed the Grassmere property to be used as a nature preserve upon their deaths, and the Nashville Zoo began management of the site in 1997 to honor that request.

The digital collection is a sampling of the physical collection and consists of over 250 items including photographs, letters, audio oral history excerpts, maps, memorabilia, and land records. Prominent themes include the history of the Grassmere property and running of the family farm, the Shute-Dunn-Croft family connections to prominent middle Tennessee families, the Croft family's life in Cuba after the Spanish-American War, and the Croft sisters' love of animals and nature.