By RACHAEL LONG
When a ripple of applause broke out in the chambers of Nolensville Town Hall Thursday night, a palpable feeling of relief came with it.
In front of a small group of Nolensville citizens — some of whom have recently become advocates for historic preservation — the Historic Zoning Commission unanimously approved the relocation of the now infamously doomed Morton-Brittain historic home.
For those not caught up on the saga-like journey of the Morton-Brittain home, here’s a quick synopsis: a developer owns the property on which the house sits, and while they’ve given the community time to find a new home for the house, they had a business to run and planned to demolish the home if it wasn’t moved by the end of the month. Now, with a permanent location in mind for the home, developers have extended that deadline a few days to allow for its relocation.
That permanent location is a property belonging to a town alderman and Historic Zoning Commissioner Tommy Dugger. As the owner of the property being discussed, Dugger recused himself during the meeting.
For those who have been hurriedly working toward the getting the home moved by the end of January, the approval of its relocation was more than another step in what has been a long, tiresome process.
It was a victory.
Before the vote, two people spoke during the citizen comments period. The first, donning a “Save the Morton-Brittain” T-shirt, was Nolensville Historical Society Vice President and co-chair of the Save the Morton-Brittain Home Committee Greg Bruss.
Bruss told the commission that in the last four weeks, volunteers have raised more than $45,000 from nearly 200 individuals and families in the community, which covers about 90 percent of the moving cost.
Bruss continued to say that in the “unbelievably brief” window they had to save it, volunteers achieved a remarkable amount of progress which will help the Morton-Brittain home “live for another 150” years to come.
He implored the commission to approve the Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) which would allow the home to be relocated to Dugger’s property.
“We’re trying to do the best we can with the cards that are being dealt to us. Right now we have two pair in the four cards we are holding,” Bruss told the commission. “It’s not a great winning hand, but you have the ability tonight to deal us the final Ace and give us the Full House. Pun intended.”
Nolensville Historical Society member and co-chair for the Save the Morton-Brittain Home Committee Beth Lothers also spoke to the commission Thursday night. She invited others to “join the party” and donate whatever they could to the home’s relocation and future preservation.
After deciding no discussion was needed, Historic Zoning Commission chair Jeanne Boutilier swiftly made a motion to approve the request. With a second from Charles Beauregard, the commission voted unanimously for its approval.
Like at the end of a film that leaves its audience feeling moved, applause filled the room.
The meeting lasted for less than seven minutes.
Lothers — who has worked on the project since its get go — simply said, “It feels great.”
On Jan. 22, after weeks of planning, the home’s last prospective property owner backed out. It was a blow to the committee and those who had been working to arrange its relocation. It also left them with a very short window.
That’s when Dugger said they approached him as a prospective property owner. Since then, Dugger said he’s had time to get excited about it.
And while Dugger will become the owner of the home, the Nolensville Historical Society will be paying for both its relocation and future renovations.
Some have lauded Dugger a hero for stepping in with a viable property at the eleventh hour, but to him, it was simply the right thing to do.
“I have a place, and they needed a home.”
Weather permitting, Lothers said the house will be moved on the evening of Monday, Feb. 4, at 10 p.m.