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We’ve been to The Woods at Fontanel (the outdoor music amphitheater where big music acts perform) and to Cafe Fontanella (the restaurant which also has a small stage for live music) several times.
The live music is always great and the food is sometimes good.
But touring the Fontanel mansion is definitely something that should be on your Nashville Bucket List!
Here’s what it was like when we went. I took lots of photos while I was there…
The Cost Of Admission Is Worth It
At first, we thought it was a little expensive to tour the Fontanel mansion — over $20 per person.
But then we realized that this is the only Nashville celebrity home tour where you can actually go inside!
The Fontanel was Barbara Mandrell’s home from 1988 to 2002, and many of her personal items remain inside the home. The log cabin home was opened to the public in 2010.
The good news is kids under 6 are free, active military (and spouse and children) are free as well. Seniors get a $2 discount.
You can spend as long as you like inside the log home mansion, but the guided tour itself generally runs about 2 hours or so.
I took over 100 photos while touring the Fontanel mansion. Following are some of my favorites.
What A Tour Of The Fontanel Mansion Is Like
The tour starts with a van ride from the Fontanella Cafe area down a winding country road to the log home mansion.
Hubby and I went in different vans — and we found that both of the drivers were friendly and knowledgeable about the house and the property.
We learned some interesting “insider secrets” on our van ride to the house — like the fact that the Fontanel was named after the soft spot on a baby’s head.
Barbara picked this name because she wanted this home to be the soft spot for the family and would always bring them together. This is where she and her husband Ken Dudney raised their family. The mansion is a 3 story, 27,000 square foot log home that sits on 136 acres. Source
Once you arrive at the log home mansion, you’re greeted by a personal tour guide.
Vance, the curator for the museum, filled in as tour guide on this day. He said there are 5 tour guides at the Fontanel. (By the way, Vance worked for Dolly Parton in Sevierville before this.)
The tour guides do a great job of answering your questions, and nothing’s off limits. They really tell it like it is. I like that type of transparency.
A tour of the Mansion is guided in small groups room by room, with amazing sights, special stories and maybe even some music along the way. Tour guides escort guests from the moment they walk into the front door through the entire home starting in the Great Room and ending in the glorious sunlit pool atrium. Every tour is unique. Source
The personal collections of current owners Dale Morris and Marc Oswald are featured which include one-of-a-kind items, personal photos, and keepsakes of the artists they currently manage, including Alabama, Kenny Chesney, Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson and many others. But make no mistake, this is not a museum. At Fontanel, visitors get to do more than just look, guests are welcome to touch, see, feel and relax in this magnificent home. Source
Clearly the Fontanel’s owners are using the mansion as a way to showcase the achievements of the artists they manage — because we saw lots of really unique memorabilia from the Country music stars mentioned above. Every room that didn’t have Barbara Mandrell stuff in it, had those artists’ memorabilia in it.
The other rooms were 100% decorated with Barbara Mandrell memorabilia. It’s as if time stopped in the 1990s in those rooms, and they were left just as Barbara’s family had left them when they moved out — with their actual clothing in the closet (or on the bed), toys on the shelves, landline telephones still plugged into the walls, and framed photos on dressers and vanities.
After Barbara Mandrell and her family, Big & Rich (especially John Rich) have the biggest presence inside the Fontanel home. Since 2008, John Rich has utilized the log home in a number of unique ways — for everything from private concerts to reality TV shows.
My Favorite Things At The Fontanel
Favorite thing to see, touch, and try on: Kenny Chesney’s tour jacket.
Favorite room to visit: the master bathroom with it’s multitude of mirrors, closet space, white drawers.
Favorite piece of the past that gave me chills: (1) The children’s growth chart marked on the wall near the pantry in the kitchen. (2) The log pole inside the great room that guests at the Fontanel have signed.
Favorite feature inside the home: the glass-covered swimming pool (that you can walk on!) inside the atrium in the middle of the house.
Favorite “most realistic” room in the house: Barbara Mandrell’s kitchen was very basic, yet it had everything you could want in a kitchen. Actually, there are 2 kitchens in this house — maybe one for the family and one for the professional cooks?
Favorite “most eclectic” room in the house: The dining room because it was so extravagant with a dining room table with seating for 14, complete with a Flokati rug underneath.
Favorite “most comfortable & cozy” room in the house: the living room with fireplace — because there were videos playing old Barbara Mandrell interviews on the TV, a huge brick fireplace.
More To See & Do At The Fontanel
Personally, I think of the Fontanel mansion as a living museum where you’re allowed to touch things… sit on the furniture… take all the pictures you want… and even rent out the home to use for a private event.
That’s what makes this place Bucket List worthy, in my opinion. It’s a hidden gem in Nashville.
Plus, if you’re thinking of building your own log home (which we are), you can get a lot of neat log home design ideas — and rustic decorating ideas too!
A tour of the Fontanel is different in so many ways — because you can easily learn a lot about architecture, the history of the mansion, music management, Country music stars, the many guests who’ve stayed here, and the Nashville area simply by asking questions and absorbing all of the fun facts that the tour guides share.
One of the most impressive pieces of information about the mansion is that local architect firm, Tuck-Hinton, had a hand in its design and building. But then again, if you know anything about the Tuck-Hinton then you will know that these guys have been involved in the building of some of Nashville’s most impressive structures that include the Adventure Science Center, Bicentennial Mall State Park, and the Country Music Hall of Fame — just to name a few. Source
The property itself is a well-manicured park-like setting with 2 miles of walking trails and a disc golf course.
It’s also a perfect wedding venue. There are so many different locations that would be ideal for a wedding ceremony and/or reception (…like John Rich did).
Since we toured the Fontanel, they’ve added a lot more things on the property — like ziplining, a distillery, and wine tasting too.
Video Tours Of The Fontanel Mansion
Don’t just take my word for it, here are other’s reviews and opinions of the Fontanel mansion.
We moved from Florida to Tennessee in 2001. All signs point to the fact that we will probably retire here — by choice. We L O V E Nashville! Our favorite places to live are just south of the City — we’ve had houses in Brentwood, Franklin, and Spring Hill. And we have properties in Leipers Fork, Cookeville, and Lewisburg. This site is where I share my best tips for moving your family to Nashville and/or visiting Nashville for the first time — with the ultimate goal of helping you find fun things to do in Williamson County and Davidson County. When I’m not out & about enjoying the Nashville area, you’ll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites). To date, I’ve written over 500 articles on this site! Many of them have upwards of 100K shares.