Nashville Zoo Given Award of Excellence from American Association for State and Local History

Nashville Zoo proudly announces that the Morton Family Exhibit and Opening was selected as a 2022 Award of Excellence winner from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in June of 2022. The winners of the 77th annual Leadership in History Awards earn prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.

The Zoo's Grassmere location has a rich history of people that lived on the land before it was transformed into what guests know today as Nashville Zoo. The Morton Family Exhibit which opened in June of 2021 aims to shed some light on this history as visitors explore the Zoo.

The Grassmere property dates back to a land grant in 1786 and has been home to many people, including enslaved individuals and Black tenant farmers. Grassmere Historic Home was built in 1810 and five generations lived in the home all the way up until 1985. From the time it was built until the time of Emancipation, about 33 enslaved individuals lived, worked and died at Grassmere.

In the early 1900s, Frank Morton and his family came to the Grassmere property to live and work as tenant farmers. The Morton's were crucial to the success of Grassmere and the Zoo wanted to recognize and honor their contributions.

Over the past couple of years, staff at Nashville Zoo researched and designed an exhibit to tell the story of the Morton family and the importance of their work. The cabin where Frank Morton and his family lived, located near the Historic Home, now showcases this exhibit.

Nashville Zoo staff that worked on this project wanted to create an immersive, story-like experience that honored the people and families that lived and worked on the Grassmere farm. The Morton Family Exhibit is open daily for guests to explore on their own and learn more about the Mortons.

The Zoo proudly accepts this Award of Excellence from AASLH and encourages all to stop by the Morton Family Exhibit.

For more info on the cabin, visit