NASHVILLE, Tenn. – This March, Cheekwood will publish its first comprehensive book exploring its historic origins as a private estate and tracing its evolution to the beloved destination that it is today. The book is co-authored by Leslie B. Jones, Cheekwood’s former Vice President of Museum Affairs and Curator of Decorative Arts, and Shanna T. Jones, Cheekwood’s Plant Collections Manager, with forewords by Charles Birnbaum, President of the Cultural Landscape Foundation, and Ridley Wills, acclaimed local historian. The 128-page, hardcover book is richly illustrated with 135 photographs over its four chapters and is being published with Scala Arts & Heritage Publishers, made possible by the generosity of Katherine and Pete DeLay.
The book, titled, "Cheekwood," offers an unprecedented window into the family home of Leslie Cheek and his wife Mabel Wood, investors in the family Maxwell House Coffee business, and explores the creation of the extraordinary historic estate designed by Bryant Fleming in the 1930s, with its Georgian-revival mansion, formal gardens, and expansive viewsheds and vistas.
Opened to visitors in 1960, Cheekwood now serves as a botanical garden, showcasing 12 distinct gardens and a 1.5-mile woodland trail featuring modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture; arboretum; and collecting museum with historic rooms and art galleries featuring 7,000 works in its permanent collection. As a year-round destination for seasonal festivals and world-class exhibitions of outdoor sculpture and works of art, enthusiasts of garden, art, architecture and history travel from all over to experience the 55-acre estate.
Jane O. MacLeod, President/CEO of Cheekwood, said: “We are thrilled to offer this milestone publication, highlighting the institution’s place as one of the finest remaining American Country Place Era estates in the nation. We hope that this special publication will offer new insight about the history and significance of Cheekwood, providing both a memento and a greater appreciation for our beloved institution.”
Anticipated to be released on March 7, 2021, the book will retail for $29.95–with a 10% discount offered to Cheekwood Members–and can be purchased online or in Cheekwood’s Gift Shops located in the Mansion and Frist Learning Center as well as from the Cheekwood Gift Shop Online. A limited quantity is available in its first print run. To preorder, visit Cheekwood’s website at www.cheekwood.org. Preorders will begin January 28th for pickup or delivery later this spring.
About the Authors
Leslie B. Jones is the Director of Museum Affairs and Chief Curator for The Preservation Society of Newport County in Newport, Rhode Island. From 2015 to 2017, she served as Vice President, Museum Affairs and Curator of Decorative Arts at Cheekwood. Among her many duties in this capacity, she developed and executed the historic restoration of the Cheek Mansion which debuted to the public in June 2017. As a scholar, Leslie focuses on European influences in American decorative arts and design from the 18th to the early 20th centuries.
Shanna T. Jones is a horticulturist and the Plant Collections Manager at Cheekwood. She is responsible for keeping detailed records of the estate's plant life as well as developing garden-based interpretation to inform and educate the public. Shanna also co-authored, "Color for All Seasons: A Field Guide" for Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle, WA.
Charles A. Birnbaum, FASLA, FAAR, is the president, CEO, and founder of The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). Prior to creating TCLF, Birnbaum spent 15 years as the coordinator of the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative (HLI) and a decade in private practice in New York City, with a focus on landscape preservation and urban design. Since taking the helm at the foundation in 2008, Birnbaum’s major projects include the web-based initiative What’s Out There (a searchable database of the nation’s designed landscape heritage) and the creation of the Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize, and he has authored and edited numerous publications. Full text of the Foreword by Charles Birnbaum is available online on The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s website at https://tclf.org/cheekwood-essay.
William Ridley Wills II is an American author and historian living in Nashville, Tennessee, who has authored 27 historical and biographical books as of 2020. He received the Tennessee History Book Award in 1991 for his first book, "The History of Belle Meade: Mansion, Plantation and Stud." He is a past president of the Tennessee Historical Society.
Cheekwood is considered one of the finest American Country Place Era estates in the nation. Formerly the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, the extraordinary 1930s estate, with its Georgian mansion and 55 acres of cultivated gardens and expansive vistas, today serves the public as a botanical garden, arboretum, and museum with historic rooms and art galleries, showcasing works from its 7,000 permanent collection as well as traveling exhibitions. The property includes 12 distinct gardens and a mile-long woodland trail featuring modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture. Cheekwood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and is a USA Today Top 10 Botanical Garden. In 2020, the grounds were awarded a Level II National Arboretum Accreditation by The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum. Cheekwood is located just 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville at 1200 Forrest Park Drive. Daily hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For further information, call 615-356-8000 or visit cheekwood.org.
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