The first taffeta curtains Albert Hadley ever saw were in Cheekwood. When Hadley worked as a junior assistant for legendary Nashville decorator, A. Herbert Rodgers, he was exposed to the city's loveliest homes, including Cheekwood where he once delivered a silver table. In Albert Hadley: The Story of America's Preeminent Interior Designer he describes the scene,
"I shall never forget walking into Cheekwood, one of the most beautiful houses in the United States. Certainly it was Nashville's finest...I was mesmerized by the bright yellow taffeta curtains hanging in [the client's] beautiful drawing room...I thought they were magnificent."
Around 1930, the Cheek family had purchased 100 acres in West Nashville and hired New York residential and landscape architect, Bryant Fleming, to design an 18th-century English-inspired limestone home with expansive formal gardens. Today Cheekwood is a museum with a botanical garden open to the public.
Currently on view through September 28 is the exhibition, Artists’ Books from Postwar to Present, which includes works by artists such as Kara Walker, Stanley William Hayter, Jasper Johns, Richard Diebenkorn, Robert Motherwell, and John Baldessari.
Although he was revered, it is hard to find many images of Rodgers' projects. (I don't know if Acanthus has anything in the works.) At the moment all I can share is the late 20th-century Reed apartment; it was heavily inspired by Julia Reed's Nashville grandmother and her Rodgers-decorated home.
Reed explains in Southern Accents, July 2002, that Rodgers essentially created the backdrop for her childhood summers: "Aubussons, tasseled silk curtains, and walls painted pale yellow and a ubiquitous murky sage green."
Working with Thomas Jayne, as an adult she incorporated into her New York pied-a-terre furniture and accessories from her grandmother -- the parrot-green Chinese Chippendale sofa, the life-size painting of a boy with a cricket bat, the pair of parcel gilt console tables, and even the photograph of her grandmother, mother and aunt that had always been on the table to the left.
Reed photography by William Waldron