NASHVILLE, TN — Cheekwood’s Frist Learning Center is set to officially reopen to the public on Thursday, August 23, following an exciting multifaceted renovation that includes restored and interpreted horse stables and tack room, updated art studios, a new gift shop and a new fast-casual eatery, Café 29.
Cheekwood is celebrating the reopening with a private ribbon cutting ceremony with representatives of The Frist Foundation at 5:30 p.m. on August 21.
“The renovation of the Frist Learning Center marks the first of many initiatives to revitalize Cheekwood, made possible by The Cheekwood Campaign,” said Jane MacLeod, president and CEO of Cheekwood. “We are immensely thankful to The Frist Foundation for their generosity in providing critical funds for the historic restoration and renovated education spaces in the Learning Center, as well as enhanced amenities to meet the needs of our growing visitor base.”
On the heels of the historic restoration of the Cheekwood Mansion that debuted in June 2017, Cheekwood’s Frist Learning Center, the hub of its education, exploration, and discovery initiatives, has been under renovation since November of 2017.
Located in the building that originally served as the Cheek family’s horse stables and garage, the Frist Learning Center was created in the late 1990s with support from The Frist Foundation to accommodate Cheekwood’s year-round educational and public programming, including art activities and demonstrations, classes and camps, workshops and exhibitions, and the Martin Shallenberger Artist-in-Residence program.
The current renovation includes the creation of a new café, additional meeting and retail space, refurbished art studios and classrooms as well as new interpretative areas that build upon the 1930s era refurnishing of the Cheekwood Mansion.
The new Café 29 will be operated by French-American bar and restaurant Sea Salt. The new café will be open during Cheekwood’s operating hours, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday, and will offer a casual, made-to-order menu including soups, sandwiches, salads, smoothies, baked goods, a children’s menu, snacks, coffee selections and alcoholic beverages.
Indoor and outdoor seating will be available in the café and the Frist Learning Center Courtyard. The café will also feature picnics to go with a convenient pick-up window. With sustainability top of mind, the café will use locally-sourced ingredients, and serve food in recyclable or compostable packaging.
Café 29’s coffee drinks will feature the original Maxwell House coffee blend, a tribute to the coffee that helped create Cheekwood. Leslie Cheek, who ran his family’s wholesale grocery distribution C. T. Cheek & Sons, had invested in his cousin Joel Cheek’s Maxwell House business. Upon its 1928 sale for $45 million, Leslie’s already existing fortune expanded. A vibrant display of historic imagery and interpretation on Cheekwood connections to Maxwell House can be found in the new café. The name Café 29 pays homage to the year 1929, when the Cheek family broke ground on the estate.
A major milestone with the renovation is the newly restored and interpreted horse stables and tack room that will be unveiled to the public on August 23 during Cheekwood’s Thursday Night Out. The equestrian story was central to life at Cheekwood in the 1930s and for the first time since becoming a public institution in 1960, this story is now highlighted through these spaces. Visitors will be able to step inside the original stables and tack room and learn about the Cheek family horses, Huldah Cheek’s affection for the horses and the management and care of these animals.
As one of Cheekwood’s most popular sites for weddings and special events, the newly renovated café, courtyard and stables will offer an improved setting for Cheekwood’s rental and event offerings, including new features like the restoration of an historic courtyard fountain.
The renovation project and accompanying enhancements have been made possible by a generous $4 million gift from The Frist Foundation to The Cheekwood Campaign, the estate and gardens’ first major fundraising initiative in nearly 20 years. Additional support has been pledged by Robert S. Lipman and James H. Cheek III. To date, over $25 million has been raised toward this unprecedented effort to fund endowment, restoration, capital reserves and revenue initiatives integral to Cheekwood’s long-term Master Site Plan.
For more information about Cheekwood, visit www.cheekwood.org.
For further information, call 615-356-8000 or visit cheekwood.org