A Glimpse into Murfreesboro’s Past: The History of Oaklands Mansion

May 23, 2024 at 12:41 pm by WGNS News

MURFREESBORO, TN - In the 1800s, Murfreesboro was much smaller than it is today. Looking back to 1818, when the first section of Oaklands Mansion was built, the town had a population of about 950 residents. At that time, the home that now sits at the end of Maney Avenue - was not the grand mansion it is now.

In 1813, Sallie Murfree Maney inherited 274 acres of land north of Murfreesboro, a town named for her father, Colonel Hardy Murfree. Five years later, Sallie and her husband, Dr. James Maney, decided to build a modest two-room home on the property. Following Dr. Maney's retirement and Sallie's death in 1857, the property was passed down to their son, Lewis Maney.


In 1858, Lewis and his wife, Rachel Adeline Cannon, expanded Oaklands, transforming it into an 8,000 square foot mansion. Rachel, the daughter of Tennessee Governor Newton Cannon, oversaw the addition of a new Italianate wing. Oaklands Executive Director James Manning told us… This expansion likely increased the demand for labor on the plantation, where 19 dwellings housed the slaves owned by the Maney family. The family's wealth, partly derived from the slave trade, was soon jeopardized by the onset of the Civil War, during which Oaklands served as a makeshift hospital. The mansion witnessed significant historical events, including the Confederates' agreement to surrender Murfreesboro. But at the very end of 1862 and going into the first two days of 1863, the Battle of Stones River took place - making way for Union control.

By the late 1800s, the Maneys' fortune, once worth approximately $600,000 (Worth $16-million to $20-million today), had dwindled and slavery was abolished (1884), leading to Oaklands being sold to the Darrow family… The Darrow’s modernized the home with electricity, plumbing, a new kitchen, and a garage for their car—rumored to be the first car in Murfreesboro…

Today, Oaklands Mansion stands as a historic landmark open for tours and events. One upcoming event, set for June 7th, will feature special nighttime tours, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the mansion's storied halls under the stars, according to Jody Johnson … Manning, the Executive Director of Oaklands, also told WGNS about an upcoming fundraiser on June 22, 2024…

Oaklands Mansion remains to paint a picture of a different time in Murfreesboro's rich history, from humble beginnings to playing a role in significant historical events, it is vital to preserve the past for the present generation to see and understand.

MORE: For details on the Cicadas Soiree, set for Saturday, June 22, at 6:30 PM, or any other event at Oaklands, visit OaklandsMansion.org.

To hear our full interview about Oaklands Mansion, Click Here.

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