Monell’s at the Manor
What’s Cooking at the Manor?
HISTORY – Monell’s at the Manor ~ Colemere Mansion
Colemere Mansion was built in 1898 by the Colonel E.W. Cole, a former Confederate officer who served under Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Colonel “King” Cole later became president of the Nashville, Chattanooga and St. Louis Railway and socialized with such Southern aristocrats as the Vanderbilts and Biltmores.
Designed by Colonel W.C. Smith, an architect who also designed Nashville’s Parthenon, Colemere Mansion quickly became noted for its many distinguished guests and extravagant social events. No fewer than five U.S. presidents have visited the mansion.
Built in the classic Colonial style of architecture, Colemere’s gardens and grounds were considered the epitome of refined beauty and symmetry, as they were designed in the manner of traditional English gardens.
After the original home was destroyed by fire in 1929, Colonel Cole’s youngest daughter constructed a new mansion in the Southern Colonial design, inspired by Arlington Mansion in Natchez, Mississippi. Completed in 1930, the second Colemere Mansion was only to remain in the Cole family for 10 years. In 1940, it was acquired by the city of Nashville, which then leased it for private use as the Colemere Club, a private men’s club with a colorful history. Local politicians could pick up important guests at the nearby airport and whisk them to the Colemere Club for wining, dining and discussion. An upstairs room had a secret back entrance for discrete wheeling and dealing, and rumors abounded that confiscated liquor was often served at the mansion during prohibition. Notable celebrities hosted by members of the club included Andy Griffith, Eddy Arnold, the Everly Brothers, Charlton Heston, Red Foley and opera singer Robert Merrill. Each year, the club opened its large grounds to children for a community Easter egg hunt, a much-anticipated event still fondly remembered by many of Nashville’s older citizens.
In 1977, the Colemere Club was transformed into the New Orleans Manor, a popular seafood buffet restaurant featuring frog legs, oysters, shrimp creole and prime rib. Long a favorite local destination for special celebrations such as anniversaries or retirements, the restaurant closed in 2008. After learning the manor was slated for possible demolition by the Nashville Airport Authority, Monell’s founder and owner Michael King leased the old home, and after extensive renovations, Monell’s at the Manor opened on Easter Sunday, 2011. In addition to the family-style dining for which Monell’s is famous, the restaurant regularly hosts weddings, rehearsal dinners and other catered special events inside its beautifully restored interior.