Clifton Place

Once the antebellum home of attorney, planter, and political figure General Gideon J. Pillow (1806-1877), Clifton Place in Maury County is one of the more lavish examples of Greek Revival architecture in southern Middle Tennessee. The nearly intact plantation is centered around a large five-ranked house distinguished by a fine central portico, flanking wings, and an exquisite interior.

The house was built by Maury County master builder Nathan Vaught for Pillow, who had inherited a large tract of prime agricultural land from his father, a pioneer settler, and established one of the largest plantations in Maury County, as well as large farms elsewhere.

Vaught built the large brick house in 1838 and 1839. One-story side wings and a connecting gallery across the back were added in 1846, and in 1852 the roof was raised and a monumental pedimented portico supported by Ionic columns was added to the facade. The original floor plan featured four rooms separated by a large central hall on each of the two main floors. The 1846 additions provided additional rooms to the sides and at the rear. In addition to the main floors, the house has an attic divided into two rooms and a basement with two finished rooms and a provisions cellar.

The plantation retains most of its original dependencies, including an office, kitchen, smokehouse, carriage house, barns, and other farm buildings, as well as many of the original slave quarters. Conforming to the model for many large plantations, the service buildings are located some distance away. It was named Clifton Place after the Clifton Turnpike, built in 1840 by the Pillows and their neighbors, the Polks, as a means to ship their cotton to the Tennessee River at the town of Clifton.

Clifton Place was confiscated by the federal government during the war, but under the general amnesty following the war, it was returned to an impoverished General Pillow. He soon left Maury County for Memphis to practice law with Isham G. Harris and died at Helena, Arkansas, in 1878. After the death of Mrs. Pillow, who had remained behind, Clifton Place passed to son-in-law Melville Williams in 1872 and was purchased by another relative by marriage, Colonel J. W. S. Ridley, in 1877. The Ridley family retained the property until 1972, when it was acquired by Mr. and Mrs. John R. Neal, who have begun a complete restoration of the house.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Article Title Clifton Place
  • Author
  • Website Name Tennessee Encyclopedia
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  • Access Date July 24, 2024
  • Publisher Tennessee Historical Society
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update March 1, 2018