Approximately 250 bricks that were made in the 1800s by those enslaved at the Rippavilla Plantation were reported as stolen from the property in late March, according to a police report.
The date of the suspected burglary comes on the heels of Spring Hill city leaders voting to terminate the city's relationship with Rippavilla Inc., the nonprofit that had formally managed the property on behalf of the city.
On Mar. 29, Detective Darryl Baker with the Spring Hill Police Department was dispatched to the plantation after former Rippavilla Inc. Executive Director Scott Smith had alerted authorities of the missing bricks, also known as McKissack bricks.
According to the report, Smith told Baker that the bricks were stored in the basement of the main house on the historic site, and that he believed they were stolen sometime "within the last few weeks," which according to the date of the report would have been sometime in early to mid-March.
Smith reportedly told Baker that he believed whomever stole the bricks was likely familiar with the property and its hours of operation. Smith also said that he was able to think of five individuals who may have taken the bricks, but declined to name them, according to the report.
As part of the ongoing investigation, at least one brick that had been given as a gift in late 2020 to a now-former alderman was given to police.
Former Alderman Vincent Fuqua, who made an unsuccessful bid for mayor during the recent city election, told the Home Page that he had received one of the McKissack bricks as a gift sometime in November of 2020.
Fuqua said the brick was gifted on behalf of Smith — he said he believed that gift was a "general thanks" from Rippavilla Inc. for being supportive of the plantation as a sitting city leader. In light of the recent investigation, however, Fuqua said that he gave the brick to the Spring Hill Police Department sometime in mid-April.
When asked for further details on McKissack bricks given out as gifts to city leaders, Detective Michael Foster wrote in an email that only the initial incident report would be released until the investigation is complete.
Smith did not respond to a request for comment.
Were the investigation to conclude that the bricks were stolen, the culprit or culprits could be charged with Class D felony, assuming the value of each brick is at least $4. Class D felonies are punishable in the state of Tennessee with up to 12 years of imprisonment and fines of up to $5,000.