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HomeArts/LeisureNashville Zoo Opens Morton Family Exhibit

Nashville Zoo Opens Morton Family Exhibit

Nashville ZooNashville, TN – The Nashville Zoo officially opened its new history feature, the Morton Family Exhibit on Saturday, June 19th, 2021. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at 11:00am at the cabin located just behind the Zoo’s Grassmere Historic Home. June 19th, also known as “Juneteenth”, commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States.

The Zoo worked with the relatives of Frank Morton, a 1900’s tenant farmer who lived on the Grassmere property, to refurbish the cabin and install interpretive panels that help tell the story of Frank and his family’s contributions to the Grassmere property.

The Morton House at the Nashville Zoo. (Kate Johns)
The Morton House at the Nashville Zoo. (Kate Johns)

“The majority of African-Americans who remained in the south became tenant farmers or sharecroppers by the end of the Reconstruction era, yet there are few locations in Middle Tennessee that interpret this significant part of history,” said Tori Mason, Interpretive Programs Manager for Nashville Zoo.

“Our hopes for this exhibit are to honor the work of Mr. Morton and his family, and provide our visitors with a window into the daily lives of tenant farmers throughout the south,” Mason stated.

When visiting the Zoo’s Historic Grassmere Home and Farm, guests will be able to enter the previously closed cabin and be immersed into the space where Frank Morton lived. Interpretive panels will provide information about tenant farming and sharecropping, along with highlighting different aspects of the living space. Archival photos and quotes from farm owner Elise Croft’s journals about the Mortons will be available along with audio oral histories from two of Frank’s daughters.

All Zoo guests and media are welcome to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony which will include Zoo officials and Morton family members. The self-guided cabin tour is included with Zoo admission or membership.

This project was funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Other funders included an anonymous donor, the Metro Historical Commission Foundation, and Historic Nashville, Inc.

About the Nashville Zoo

Nashville Zoo is a nonprofit organization and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, assuring the highest standards of animal care and husbandry. The Zoo is actively engaged in conservation research, habitat protection, breeding programs, and education initiatives around the globe as well as in our own backyard.

With support from the Nashville community, donors, and sponsors including our Experience Partners: Coca-Cola Consolidated and Middle Tennessee Honda Dealers, the Zoo is a top Nashville attraction and is consistently voted one of the best places to visit by TripAdvisor, Yelp, and a host of local and national review sites. Nashville Zoo is located at 3777 Nolensville Pike.

For more information about Nashville Zoo, visit www.nashvillezoo.org


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