Why Is There a House in the
Middle of a Zoo?
The real question is, why is there a zoo around a house!
Built in 1810 and owned by 5 generations of the same family, the Croft House and Grassmere Historic Farm sit as the centerpiece of the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere. 5th generation owners Margaret and Elise Croft, never-married sisters, loved animals, nature, and their ancestral home and land. In the 1960’s, Nashville’s growth and development threatened the 300 acre farm they so dearly loved. They entered into an agreement with the Nashville Children’s Museum (today known as the Adventure Science Center) that insured the land would remain a “nature study center” for years to come, educating the people of Nashville about the animals they held dear. Nashville Zoo began managing the property in 2007, continuing to honor the wishes of the Croft sisters. Thanks to their vision, Nashville Zoo at Grassmere is on track to become one of the top zoos in the country, seeing a million visitors annually, and educating guests about animals, habitats and the environment, just at Margaret and Elise wished.
The Croft House is open for tours seasonally, showcasing the many original pieces of furniture, artwork, china, clothing and family photos, and detailing the story of the Dunn, Shute and Croft families. Guided tours, tours aimed at children, and Open House style tours are offered. For information on when tours are available, visit https://www.nashvillezoo.org/guided-tours#house. Tours are included with zoo admission. The Historic Farm grounds, which include a garden, original outbuildings and a livestock barn with heritage breeds of cattle and sheep, are open daily.
Nashville Zoo Mission: To inspire a culture of understanding and discovery of our natural world through conservation, innovation and leadership.
Grassmere Historic Farm Mission: To preserve and interpret the Croft House and Grassmere Historic Farm, in order to enrich and inspire our visitors, and to educate them on the past, present and future of the property known as the Nashville Zoo at Grassmere.