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Come step back in time at the Matt Gardner Homestead Museum in Elkton, Tennessee. Be inspired by an African American landowner who defied the odds to prosper and give back to his community. Explore family life and farm practices in Tennessee during the Jim Crow era. Learn about Matt Gardner and the Gardner family's traditions and culture and how they relate to African American heritage. Discover the patterns of rural community life in the areas of education, religion, and social activities.
A successful farmer, minister, community leader, and entrepreneur, Matt Gardner was one of the few African Americans in Tennessee to build and sustain a large farming operation on land purchased after the Civil War. The museum provides a unique opportunity to interpret a full century of momentous change, from 1870-1970.
Visitors to the Homestead will learn about the institution of slavery and about the significance of family life during the transition from slavery to freedom. Visitors will also gain insight into the efforts of rural African Americans to gain an education during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The Homestead also provides a wonderful opportunity to interpret vernacular architecture during the late 19th century. The owner and builder of the 1896 dwelling, Matt Gardner used the I-house variation for the exterior of his home, however the interior exhibits a saddlebag plan. The house is an authentic gem that has survived more than a century. It provides visitors with a palpable sense of a time gone by.
The Matt Gardner site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 as a significant farmstead associated with African American architecture, agriculture, and commerce in rural Middle Tennessee. The house is accompanied by four contributing structures, including a well house, smokehouse/store, chicken coop, and outhouse.
We hope you will plan a visit to the museum where you can step back in time and enjoy an exciting experience in a unique environment. Learning and having a good time go together at the Matt Gardner Homestead Museum.