Early 1900s House on Carter’s Hill Park Saved: But Why?

Blue House -2The Heritage Foundation is going the extra mile to preserve another historic home–and we mean this quite literally.

You may have seen it in the news: the Foundation has partnered with like-minded organizations in the community to save the “Blue House,” often called the “Cotton Gin House” as part of a major battlefield reclamation project. This historic home, which was moved to the Cleburne Street site in the 1920s, is being slowly transported in two sections more than 40 miles from downtown Franklin to Giles County, where new homeowners Sharon and John McNeely will renovate it. The land for the seven-acre Carter’s Hill Park will be completely cleared by November 30, the 150th anniversary of the battle.

The simple post-Civil War house, which sits on the site of the Carter Cotton Gin that played such a pivotal role in the Battle of Franklin, includes all of the original trim, fireplaces, beaded board paneling and an incredible central staircase, along with several original windows and doors–but that’s just one reason why it should be preserved.

To help you better understand its historical significance, and why we have put so much effort into preserving the structure, we put together a little timeline (which we gleaned from Historian Rick Warwick) here:

  • The Blue House is a veteran of moves and movers.It’s ownership dates back to a Mrs. Sykes, who owned the home during the Civil War when it stood on the corner of Columbia Avenue and Fowlkes Street.
  • After the war, it was sold to Samuel Mosley, who added on to the front of the house, nearly doubling its size.
  • The city of Franklin bought the house and the property from Mr. Mosley to build Franklin High School in its place, which later burned down in 1956. Mrs. Robbie Hunter bought the house from the city and had it moved to 109 Cleburne Street before the city had a chance to tear it down.
  • The lot at 109 Cleburne Street also has a unique history.Long before the Blue House stood there, the lot housed the Carter Cotton Gin. During the Civil War’s Battle of Franklin, soldiers wrote about seeing the cotton gin in the midst of the fighting, noting it was a sort of epicenter for the battle.
  • The city later built the original Battle Ground Academy High School on the lot where the cotton gin once stood. The school burned down in 1902, and the lot sat empty until the arrival of the Blue House in either 1925 or 1926.
  • Now the Blue House is in the midst of another move, this time to Giles County. With the front part of the Blue House gone, Mr. Mosley’s addition is noticeable by the presence of Civil War era, handmade nails holding the walls together. The front of the house contains newer nails.
  • The third move was prompted by plans to build a park on the site where the Battle of Franklin broke out on November 30, 1864. The park will be called Carter’s Hill Park after the Carter family who owned the property at the time.

Follow along with the Heritage Foundation on its Facebook page to see updates of the park’s development, and of the “Blue House.”

Early 1900s House to be Moved From Site of Future Carter Cotton Gin Park

Blue House

The Heritage Foundation of Franklin & Williamson County is presenting a rare opportunity to buy a well-kept historic home with a great story for less than $10,000. The catch: the buyer must relocate the home to a suitable property in Williamson County.

The story-and-a-half home, built near the turn of the 20th century on the site of the former Franklin High School on Columbia Avenue, was moved across the street in the 1920s to this location to make way for the new high school. The simple post-Civil War house, which sits on the site of the Carter Cotton Gin that played such a pivotal role in the Battle of Franklin, includes all of the original trim, fireplaces, beaded board paneling and an incredible central staircase, along with several original windows and doors. The Foundation is offering it for $7,500, and will advise a qualified buyer on the relocation process.

“This is a historic home that has a lot of history, and we want it to remain a part of Franklin’s story,” said Heritage Foundation Executive Director Mary Pearce. “For the right person, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to purchase a historic house for next to nothing. We’ve been involved in moving nearly a dozen old homes; it is hard, tedious work and can be expensive, but it’s a labor of love. It is the road of last resort to save a house from demolition.”

The house is thought to have been built by Dr. Samuel Henderson Jr., who lived there until his death. Henderson’s heirs sold it to the City of Franklin when the site was chosen for Franklin High School in the mid 1920s, and the City offered this house and the house next door to purchase and move.

It is believed that Mrs. Robbie Hunter, who owned the Carter House at the time, is the one who relocated this house to a vacant lot on Cleburne Street, where it sits today. The current location of the second house is unknown.  Mrs. Hunter rented the home out until her death in 1946, at which point it was inherited by her brother, Bennett Hunter, who then sold the house at auction. For years the Sawyer family lived there, and it was later owned and rented out by Heritage Foundation founding member Roy Barker. The Heritage Foundation purchased the property for $162,000 in 1997. Local realtor Danny Anderson handled the transaction at no cost, and then-Heritage Foundation President Julian Bibb was the pro bono attorney. The organization put $32,000 cash down, and the property owner, Mr. Barker, carried the financing.

“The Heritage Foundation purchased this property hoping that one day we might be able to reclaim more of the property that was at the epicenter center of the Battle of Franklin,” Pearce said. “Now that the Carter Cotton Gin Park is becoming a reality, this home needs to be moved to interpret what happened on this site that means so much to Civil War history. This house has already been moved once, but we can never change the location of this sacred ground.”

Plans call for the house to be moved off the property by March of 2014. Interested parties should contact Pearce at the Heritage Foundation at 615-591-8500 x15.

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