A driving tour through the communities of southern Giles County, Tennessee
Matt Gardner Homestead
Tennessee, the only complete state recognized as a Civil War National Heritage Area, is filled with battlefields and plantation homes from the era. However, there are few historic sites and museums devoted to telling the story of African Americans during the period of Reconstruction. The Matt Gardner Homestead Museum in Elkton is such a place.
Matt Gardner was born into slavery in 1847. By the late 1890s, he built this house on farm land he owned making him one of the few independent black farmers in the state. Gardner was a minister, traveling to churches throughout Giles County and northern Alabama, as well as a proponent of African American education. He financed and built the first African American school in Giles County. In 1930, he was named chairman of the new Rosenwald School in Elkton.
Today, the Matt Gardner Homestead Museum interprets African American history during the Reconstruction period and into the Twentieth Century. Every year, descendants of Gardner from across the country hold a reunion at the museum.
110 Dixon Town Road
Elkton, TN 38455
Open to the public on the 1st & 3rd Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm
Closed all Saturday Holidays and all Saturdays before a Monday Holiday
Per Person: $5.00
Students with ID: $3.00
Children 5 -12: $3.00
Children under 5: (Free)
Photos & Stories
Though the Matt Gardner Homestead is significant from an historical point of view, the place has personal significance to the hundreds of Gardner’s descendants across the country. Below you will find audio recordings of Jewel Bailey remembering summers at her Grandpa Matt’s farm.