The statewide preservation organization, Tennessee Preservation Trust, announced its Ten in Tennessee endangered list for 2016 Wednesday night, and the Natchez Trace rural landscape made the cut.
Local citizens may now use the designation to fight new development near the Natchez Trace.
Last year, the Masonic Hall in downtown Franklin was placed on the list, so it was a fitting place to announce this year’s list, as well as point out the successful restoration the hall has seen since then. That is one tangible benefit of the heightened awareness that comes with making the list.
“If I can be of any encouragement to any of you who are on the list this year, there is hope,” said Rachel Finch, a consultant with the Franklin Masonic Hall, who has done much research and more work in the last year for the preservation of the hall. “Because this Masonic Hall was thought to be lost, that it was not worth being restored, and I am standing here as a testament today that if you build good community relations, and you work with those who really, truly understand the history, want to understand the history, and you have good representation with your state representatives, your local officials, and your local preservation groups, I guarantee you that you will work towards saving your site and one day you too, thought it won’t be easy, could come off the endangered list.”
The area on the Natchez Trace encompasses property in northwest Williamson County bordered on the west by the Natchez Trace Parkway, the east by the Harpeth River, the south by Highway 96 and the Harpeth River and the north at Old Natchez Trace and Sneed Road, according to TPT.
TPT listed over-dense development and increased traffic as threats to the site, made acute by the on-going Stephens Valley 850-acre, 791-unit residential development in the area.
Citizens groups have been pressing for constraints and concessions from the developer, Rochford Realty, since it first became a possibility last year, and was approval by the county planning commission in May.
Laura Turner, of the group Save Stephens Valley, came to the front of the room to be recognized, along with state Rep. Charles Sargent, who represents the area. Turner and her group have been protesting the development from the start, especially its density and the traffic they claim will come with it.
“We are thrilled because this is an actual, excellent preservation, protection tool that we can use to talk to county officials about getting historic protection out on Natchez Trace historic rural landscape,” said Turner.
“I liken it to the goose who laid the golden eggs; that goose lives out on the Natchez Trace rural landscape and in the children’s story the farmer gets greedy and cuts the goose open, killing it. Well, that is what is going to happen out there, unless we do something about it.”
The Natchez Trace Parkway itself made the list in 2007 and 2014, and in 2014 Scenic America, a national conservation group, named the historic landscape a Last Chance Landscape and a Top Ten Most Endangered Scenic Place in America.
The Natchez Trace includes 11 National Historic Register sites: on Old Natchez Trace there are Forest Home, Montpier (Nicholas Perkins house), Old Town (includes the Thomas Brown House, the Old Town Bridge and prehistoric Mississippian Indian mounds), Old Natchez Trace, Knight-Moran House, Ash Grove and the Daughters of the American Revolution stone monument commemorating the Old Natchez Trace; on Del Rio Pike there are the Meeting of the Waters and Two Rivers; and on Moran Road there is the John Motheral House.
The other nine sites on the list also are in danger of being lost to time.
- Aretha Franklin House, 406 Lucy Av., Memphis– the birthplace of the Queen of Soul
- Cleveland Masonic Female Institute, 633 N. Ocoee St., Cleveland– a Greek revival school for girls in the antebellum South; opened in 1854
- Mid South Coliseum, 996 Early Maxwell Blvd., Memphis– Mid-century modern, Elvis performed there; opened in 1964
- Polk Building, 1110 Old Highway 64, Bolivar– part of Western State Hospital, opened in 1889
- Clayborn Temple, 280 Hernando St., Memphis– one of the few 19th century extant churches in Memphis; built 1891
- Miller Farmstead, 1015 Highway 143, Roan Mountain– represents Appalachian lifestyle, in state park; circa 1870s.
- Fleming Houston House, 269 & 279 S. Center St., Collierville– represents rural life; circa 1884
- Oak Hill Cemetery, 205 Whitney Dr., Johnson City– old as city itself; circa 1870
- Stonecipher Kelly Home, 964 Flat Fork Rd., Frozen Head State Park, Wartburg– one of first European homesteads in state and oldest extant building in Morgan County; circa 1814
All of the sites on the list are in danger of destruction, demolition and/or in extreme neglect.