Tennessee’s Executive Residence, a classic example of stately Georgian architecture, was originally known as “Far Hills” because of the beautiful view from the home’s 10-acre site. The three-story, 16-room home was built for businessman William Ridley Wills, founder of National Life and Accident Insurance Company, and completed in 1931.
The property became the Volunteer State’s official governor’s home when the state purchased it in 1949 following Wills’ death. To date, nine governors and their families have lived and worked in the Tennessee Residence, including Gordon Browning, Frank Clement, Buford Ellington, Winfield Dunn, Ray Blanton, Lamar Alexander, Ned Ray McWherter, Don Sundquist and Bill Haslam.
During Phil Bredesen’s term (2003-2011), the Tennessee Residence underwent a major renovation led by First Lady Andrea Conte and the Tennessee Residence Foundation. Conservation Hall, a 14,000 square-foot subterranean meeting and banquet facility, was built under the front lawn of the Tennessee Residence during the renovation project. The space is used to entertain for large events on the property and includes artwork created by Tennessee artists through the hall.
Over time, the Tennessee Residence and grounds have been a welcoming point for tens of thousands of Tennesseans, as well as host to official functions for distinguished guests, including Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore; legislative leaders; numerous governors; religious figures such as Rev. Billy Graham; and other distinguished dignitaries from around the world.
Public tours of the Tennessee Residence are currently offered free of charge on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, depending on house availability. For more information about touring the Tennessee Residence, click here.
Throughout the years, thanks to the generosity of Tennesseans, the Tennessee Residence has a collective display of antiques and artwork that demonstrate the rich and robust history of the state. We want to thank those who support these efforts and the museums across the state who loan artwork to display in the Tennessee Residence for all Tennesseans to enjoy.