Owen-Primm House Brentwood 1

The Brentwood Historic Commission met Friday morning in part to discuss the progress of the barn restoration on the historic Owen-Primm House property. 

Bobbi Clemens, one of the new owners of the Owen-Primm House, presented to the commission her plans for restoring the longstanding white and red barn on the property, visible from Moores Lane at the Brentwood/Cool Springs split.

The Owen-Primm House, built in 1806, escaped demolition in 2021 with an assist from the Heritage Foundation to help find a buyer, who would eventually be Clemens and another. Restoration on the site's various properties became the next step. 

When asked why Clemens was going through such efforts to save the dilapidated barn, she said, “it is the least historic of all the buildings on the property, but it’s also the biggest and the most impactful one, and so right at the front and is such a landmark.”

Clemens expected work to be completed on the barn by July 15, but after a tree fell on the already damaged barn in April, the construction was set back. There is no longer a clear anticipated finish date due to the expansiveness of both the work and the permitting behind it.

The tree’s damage to the barn sparked a conversation between Clemens and the city of Brentwood. The extensive damage left the previous permit null and void. This permit had allowed Clemens to restore the historic landmark despite its violations of current standards, namely the required distance from the road.

With this new ordinance, Clemens and others who hope for extreme restoration can apply to the Historic Commission for approval of their project, even if they are nonconforming with current standards.

The draft of this new ordinance reads as follows:

“Should such structure be destroyed by any means to an extent of more than 50 percent of its replacement cost at time of destruction, it shall not be reconstructed except in conformity with the provisions of this chapter. Notwithstanding the foregoing, nonconforming structures which have been in existence for more than 75 years or which are part of historically significant sites designated as such by resolution of the board of commissioners may be reconstructed if recommended by the Brentwood Historic Commission.

"The Historic Commission shall consider whether such reconstruction is appropriate to retain or enhance the historical importance of the structure or site. Any reconstruction must be so substantially similar as to be a replica of the structure that has been destroyed. If recommended by the Historic Commission, the Building Official may issue such permits as appropriate subject to submittal of required plans as applicable.”

The Historic Commission discussed this ordinance and proposed three edits before it moves on to be approved by the City Commission.

First, the Historic Commission suggested the addition of a timeframe for owners to apply for such reconstruction following the destruction. They proposed 18 months as owners may need to work with insurance and other sections of the Brentwood government before they can submit their formal proposal.

Next, the Historic Commission recommended additional language surrounding the use of the word “replica.” They believe the replica should be visually similar and to scale, and these requirements should be clarified in the ordinance.

Finally, the Historic Commission planned to research the use of the word “reconstruction” to ensure the definition intended here aligns with that of the National Register of Historic Places.

With these changes, the Historic Commission forwarded approval the presentation of the ordinance to the City Commission, who will have the final say over whether it is adopted.