Separating Fact from Fiction: Hank Williams and Beechwood Hall
– Beechwood Hall in Williamson Country, Tennessee is a historical landmark designated on the National Register of Historical Places, and should be preserved.
– Though both Hank Williams, and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill have owned the property at different times, none of them used the property as their “home” and did not live there at any time.
– Fears over the property being demolished have caused concerned citizens to come forward to advocate for preservation of the property.
– A dispute remains over the current plans for the property by the current owner.
Beginning earlier in November—and rising to a fevered pitch over the last few days—there has been concern that Beechwood Hall is about to be demolished. Here is what we know:
What Is Beechwood Hall, or the H.G.W. Mayberry House?
Beechwood Hall is a plantation style home that was built by Henry George Washington Mayberry and his wife Sophronia Hunter “Sophia” Mayberry located in Williamson County, Tennessee, near Franklin. Construction on the property began in 1856, and it was completed in 1860. The 6,856-square-foot brick and stucco home utilized Italianate and Greek revival design styles, and was famous for its 40′ x 60′ hall with a freestanding spiral walnut staircase.
The original property was more than 1,000 acres and was an authentic Southern plantation, utilizing slave labor to tend the property that included a cotton gin, as well as peach and apple orchards. It is considered historically significant since it is one of the three largest plantations in Williamson County, Tennessee that predates the American Civil War, and one of the few structures that survived the Civil War and the Battle of Franklin.
Other Houses on the Property
Beechwood Hall, or the H.G.W. Mayberry House is not the only structure on the property, leading to much confusion, and misreporting in multiple outlets. Sometimes the square footage of Beechwood Hall will be misrepresented at 3,300 square feet. This is because there is a second historic structure on the property—a log cabin-style house built in 1850. There are also three smaller and newer residences throughout the property, as well as a large 12-stall horse barn.
In 2002, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill bought the entire property, which at that time consisted of 753 acres, and included all six of the structures. When Tim and Faith stayed on the property, they did not stay in Beechwood Hall, but in the long cabin-style house, which had been completely renovated and updated at that time.
Hank Williams Purchases Beechwood Hall, aka “The Farm”
A man named Robert Bailey who was married to the daughter of the original Beechwood Hall owner H.G.W. Mayberry kept up and preserved the house until 1944 when he sold the property to a man named E.E. Brown. In September of 1951, Hank Williams bought the property, in part off the success of Tony Bennett recording a version of Hank’s song “Cold Cold Heart.” This is according to Hank Williams historian and author Brian Turpen in his book, Ramblin’ Man: Short Stories from the Life of Hank Williams, which chronicles Hank’s purchase of the property.
At that time, the property consisted of “507 acres, more or less,” according to surveyors. Hank paid $60,000 for the property. But Hank never lived there, and never resided in Beechwood Hall. According to Brian Turpin, “When Hank bought the farm, Beechwood Hall was rundown and in need of repairs. Hank planned to refurbish the house, but it never came to pass.”
It’s worth underscoring due to the current dispute over the property that even when Hank Williams purchased Beechwood Hall 71 years ago, it was considered in need of refurbishing then. It’s also important to underscore that Hank Williams never lived in the house, and never spent any significant time in the house. Instead, he continued to live at his house at 4916 Franklin Road in Nashville.
“He referred to that as ‘The Farm,'” Hank Williams historian and country music performer Joey Allcorn tells Saving Country Music. “He kept horses and stuff at his house on Franklin Road, and moved them to The Farm. Would I call that Hank’s house? No. Is it a property that he owned? Yes.”
As Brian Turpen goes on to explain in his book Ramblin’ Man, Hank rented the farm to a man named F.H. Huff on November 9th, 1951. Huff was responsible for the property’s upkeep and maintenance, while Hank used the property as more of a retreat to go hunting, fishing, and to keep his horses on. At that time, Beechwood Hall was simply a feature of the property that was in need of renovation.
Troubled Times for Hank Williams
One significant Hank Williams event did happen on “The Farm” where Beechwood Hall resided. According to Hank Williams band member Jerry Rivers, it was on “The Farm” while jumping a ditch on horseback that Hank fell and injured his back, which required surgery in December of 1951. According to many country music historians, this is where the downward spiral for Hank Williams began after he began requiring more pain medication and alcohol to alleviate his chronic back pain.
By January 3rd, 1952, Hank Williams had moved out of the home he shared with wife Audrey Williams at 4916 Franklin Road in Nashville. Later in the divorce, Audrey would get the Franklin Road residence, and Hank would get “The Farm,” including Beechwood Hall. But since Hank was still renting the property to someone else, and by all accounts Beechwood Hall was basically unlivable, Hank moved in with Ray Price at his house at 2718 Westwood Avenue in Nashville.
Hank would also later move back in with his mother Lillie. After he was fired from the Grand Ole Opry and started performing on the Louisiana Hayride, Hank Williams married Billie Jean Jones [Horton], and lived in Louisiana.
In October of 1952, Hank Williams sold the “The Farm” property including Beechwood Hall to J. Truman Ward and Mary Maurice Ward for $28,500—less than half of the $60,000 he had paid for the property. Hank owned the property where Beechwood Hall stands for a grand total of 13 months. When he sold it, the property still consisted of 507 acres.
Misconceptions about the Hank Williams Song “Mansion On The Hill”
Multiple reports have tied the Hank Williams song “Mansion On The Hill” to Beechwood Hall, either as being inspired by it, about it, purchased by Hank Williams because of the song, or otherwise tied to the historic house. This appears to be untrue. According to Hank Williams biographer Colin Escott and others, “Mansion On The Hill” is likely one of a handful of songs from Hank’s catalog that was primarily written by co-writer and mentor Fred Rose as opposed to Hank Williams himself. Hank may have had a hand in “Mansion On The Hill,” but any ties to Beechwood Hall appear to be speculative.
Historical Designation, and Tim McGraw and Faith Hill
Beechwood Hall was named to the National Register of Historical Places in 1988. Tim McGraw and Faith Hill purchased the property in 2002, which at that time was enumerated to be 753 acres. But despite reports to the contrary, they never lived there, and instead lived in the 3,300 sq. ft. log-style cabin also on the property.
One question is what Tim McGraw and Faith Hill did or did not do to make sure that Beechwood Hall was kept up and preserved during their tenure as owners. The historical landmark had gone through efforts of restoration and preservation in the past, but the primary reason for concerns for the property now is the state of disrepair it is currently in with significant water and mold damage according to the current owners. Did Tim and Faith do their part to keep up Beechwood Hall?
In 2015, the couple sold off 131 acres from the property. When they sold the rest of the property in late June of 2021 to investor group BKDM for $15 million, it was enumerated as a 620-acre property.
Dispute Upon the Future Plans for Beechwood Hall
Beechwood Hall and a 268-acre parcel that it currently sits on is now owned by Larry Keele, who purchased it in 2021. Over the last few weeks, an uproar has ensued over the future of the property after drone footage revealed that a 1970s-era addition to the property was torn down, the historic staircase was removed, and other activities and anecdotal accounts claim the property is about to be demolished.
Mary Pearce, who is a former director of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County and local preservationist says, “I have talked to the owner, and he has told me that he is not willing to commit to preserving the house. I have always felt like historic homes don’t have a voice. I went over to the county planning department to confirm what I already knew, that there wasn’t any protection for these homes unless they’re part of a subdivision, and they don’t even have to have a demolition permit.”
Leonora Clifford, who is the second-great-granddaughter of the original property owners, claims that she went to see the property in person in late October, and said on Instagram, “I was told directly it was to be torn down, and I did not misunderstand. A somewhat similar house was to be built on the site. The rear wing is on the ground in the burn pile.”
This caused a public uproar on social media, with Mike Wolfe of American Pickers who lives in Williamson County also expressing grave concern, and Kid Rock speaking out on Tucker Carlson’s Tuesday night (11-22) show about the potential demolition of Beechwood Hall.
A website called savebeechwood.org has been set up to advocate for the preservation of the historic landmark.
Misconceptions from the Fox News/Tucker Carlson Report
On November 22nd, Tucker Carlson dedicated a segment to the Beechwood Hall preservation on his show, and invited Kid Rock to speak on the matter. Some of the statements from the report deserves scrutiny and context.
“Tearing down Hank Williams’s house, an antebellum house, would not just constitute an assault on the soul of country music—a distinctly American art form. It would be an attack on the country itself,” Carlson stated while explaining the matter.
But as explained above, Beechwood Hall is not considered “Hank William’s house” by any Hank Williams historians or country music historians. It’s only a place Hank owned for 13 months as part of farm acreage. It is also not considered part of the “soul” of country music, though it does have some ties to the genre. That doesn’t mean Beechwood Hall should not be preserved, but it’s age, and its ties to pre-Civil War America are probably more justifiable reasons.
Tucker Carlson goes on to say, “Kid Rock appears to feel that way. He is of course a country music legend.”
Similarly to the characterization of Beechwood Hall, Kid Rock does have some ties to country music, but is not in any way considered “a country music legend” to anyone within the country music community. He is known much more as a rock and rap artist as opposed to a country artist, let alone a “legend.” In the Tucker Carlson report, it is also falsely expresses that Beechwood Hall was the former home of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.
Kid Rock does have some clout to speak on the matter. In 2018, Kid Rock helped preserve portions of a home in Bossier City, Louisiana where Hank Williams lived. Though the home had been heavily damaged, the lumber and building materials were all salvaged, catalogued, and transported to Rock’s Cowboy Town near Nashville.
Kid Rock goes on to assert that woke politics is what is behind the plan to destroy Beechwood Hall.
Response from Current Owner and the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County
In a joint statement from the current owner of Beechwood Hall, Larry Keele, and the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, there is “no threat of imminent demolition” of the property. They say only the 1970s-eras back addition and landscaping features have been taken down, and the staircase was removed for preservation purposes.
Heritage Foundation President and CEO Bari Beasley says they have “been in regular conversation with the property owners, and the Foundation’s preservation team has conducted preliminary surveys of the property in preparation for solutions-driven conversations about the property’s future.”
Owner Larry Keele states in an email to the Williamson Herald, “The Heritage Foundation is in the process of securing the home for the winter on our behalf, and they have brought in their team of experts to assess the home’s condition. We did, however, remove the rear 1970s addition as it is not historical. We were informed that the stair banister within the home is one of the original parts of the house not yet impacted by heavy water damage and mold, and it was carefully removed and is now stored in a safe, conditioned space. We have also cleaned up many dead trees and replaced the old perimeter fence, which are the only items in the burn pile. Contrary to misinformation that is being published, no historical items have been placed in any burn pile, and there is no scheduled demolition. We have been disappointed and saddened at how our efforts have been portrayed in the community.”
Larry Keele has been a major donor to the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, and has been a part of its leadership society.
Though Beechwood Hall is most certainly a historical landmark and deserves preservation, its ties to country music should be placed in a proper context, and not subject to hyperbole in a way that could damage those preservation efforts by veering into the realm of fiction. Meanwhile, efforts should continue to preserve the property, hold the current owners and the previous owners of Tim McGraw and Faith Hill accountable for the current condition of the property, and for the efforts that have or have not been undertaken to ensure the viability of the property into the future.
November 23, 2022 @ 2:53 pm
On a more personal take:
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am 100% for preservation of historical landmarks, and I am 100% for the preservation of Beechwood Hall. It is of historical significance, even if its ties to country music are minor, and even if those ties go back to slavery and the Civil War. Best to preserve history as opposed to repeat it.
But reading many stories on this issue, and especially after seeing the Tucker Carlson/Kid Rock exchange, the historian and preservationist inside of me sees it as imperative that we set Beechwood Hall’s significance in country music in its proper context. Characterizing that they want to demolish the house of Hank Williams is unhelpful hyperbole, and it does not constitute the “soul” of country music. If it did, I would be at that property yesterday stringing up tarps to preserve the structure, laying in front of bulldozers, using a bullhorn to scream at public officials, or doing what I had to do to preserve it. I would like to see it preserved for its ties to country music. But lets not try to hoodwink the public.
My bigger concern is what condition did the current owner take it over from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill? Was it during their possession that it fell into such disrepair that preservation will now be more difficult, or maybe impossible? They owned it for 20 years. What happened?
Here’s hoping for the preservation of Beechwood Hall.
November 24, 2022 @ 12:48 pm
It’s just not right to do anything to this beautiful home other than preserve it. Our grandchildren and future generations will never know about some of this country’s past. They dont even teach it in school anymore
So leave this beautiful building standing!
December 3, 2022 @ 3:18 pm
I wish there was a way I could help. The only thing I can offer is to metal detect the property and anything found of value to be sold or auctioned at a charitable event to raise money to go towards the restoration. Have metal detector, will travel Joe.d.i.r.t
November 23, 2022 @ 3:16 pm
I’m reminded of what one of my neighbors who served on the US Enterprise said when asked if he wished it had been preserved like the Yorktown. His response was “I’d rather have memories of her kicking ass instead of wanting to kick the asses of people who’d rather misbehave than hear the memories. I’ve seen too many people show irreverence and disrespect to historical vessels and places that were saved that my attitude is “Take nothing but pictures leave nothing but memories.” I think that should be the attitude towards Beechwood Hall.
November 23, 2022 @ 4:24 pm
Hmm…🤔…I wonder what Hank Jr’s thoughts on this is since it has a connection to the Williams family, but also the fact it’s a landmark for surviving the Civil War. I’m sure he’s against the destruction of this property over those two connections alone but, I suspect we won’t hear Bocephus’ thoughts on the matter since this is a political topic & the last time he spoke out in the political arena was when he made his Obama/Hitler comments that got him axed from MNF. Regardless if Hank owned Beachwood Hall or not it shouldn’t be torn down, but we are living in a time when history is being destroyed & rewritten & its scary as hell.
Brandy Dawn Harris
November 25, 2022 @ 3:59 am
It is “scary as hell”!!!!! It looks like to me, that Hank Williams Jr. would WANT to restore his father’s home. I know I WOULD!!!! BUT, TO EACH HIS OWN. I have nothing but sad memories of my father and mother, but, that STILL does not affect the way I feel about their home. OH, WELL!!!!! As I said before, TO EACH HIS OWN.
November 28, 2022 @ 7:54 pm
But this was not his “home”.
November 23, 2022 @ 4:56 pm
Wait, so Frozen Dinner Bowtie Boy was talking out of his ass? I’m just shocked! In all seriousness though, I appreciate you getting to the bottom of this. My last big job was a historical preservation project of the old union hall in Seattle and I was a big fan of preservation even before that. I’m glad to hear they are restoring the staircase because that sounds amazing!
November 24, 2022 @ 7:45 am
Notice how objectively Trigger reports that vile person’s divisive segments? If it were some random left-wing Gen Z journalist, it would be breathless name-calling and swipes about “blue check elites” and such. This is why I ignore his analysis of our current political and social landscape (it’s so biased). He’s still a good writer, though.
November 24, 2022 @ 9:06 am
The difference here between Tucker Carlson and the “blue check elites” (your words) is that Tucker Carlson believes he’s defending the soul of country music under false pretenses, while often the “blue check elites” are looking to destroy the soul of country music so they can remake it in their own image with themselves in control under false pretenses. Ultimately, what Tucker Carlson doing here is virtually inert, except for sowing needless culture war strife. That said, I am in no way defending Carlson or Kid Rock. Making this about “woke politics” and mischaracterizing the truth is out-of-bounds, and deserved to be called out.
If you really want to know the worst way media shows bias, it’s not how they cover things, but what they cover. If I was bias for Fox News/Tucker Carlson, I wouldn’t have covered this story at all.
November 24, 2022 @ 10:13 am
Tucker Carlson believes he’s defending the soul of country music under false pretenses
I don’t believe that for a second.
About twenty years ago, there was a regular WaPo on-line Q&A feature with Tucker Carlson on the right and Anne Marie Cox on the left. I enjoyed it and Carlson came across as a genial, thoughtful conservative and I wasinterested in what he had to say. One thing I learned about him is that he was a passionate Dead Head and so somewhat of an active music fan. Turns out this particular version of Tucker was just what the gig called for. And now he’s doing this much more lucrative thing, which calls for something else. I highly doubt he thinks Kid Rock is a country music legend, but there’s a good chance a lot of his his audience knows who he is in the same way they may have heard of someone like Ted Nugent.
I remember one time seeing Carlson subbing on Fox and Friends when they had Ricky Skaggs on. I’m not sure, but I think maybe Ricky had recently released Songs That My Dad Loved. Tucker didn’t want to talk about the music and instead wanted to talk about the religion of the people who he thought liked Ricky’s music. As I remember, Ricky begged off politely and tried to direct the conversation back to music.
November 24, 2022 @ 2:12 pm
Tucker is on record saying that when he was on that show Crossfire, he was bought and paid for. He espoused the opinions that his character on the show was supposed to espouse. He stated that he’s in his 50’s now, and plans to spend the rest of his life saying what he believes.
It’s obvious he was leaning on Kid Rock to be the SME in this interview, and I think he simply saw this as yet another example of Woke run a muck. I disagree with Kyle’s analysis that this was merely a ratings grab, because that implies that Tucker isn’t an ideologue, which he clearly is.
It’s also strange how Kyle frames this as “sowing culture war strife”, as if we would all get along if not for those pesky sowers of culture war strife. Kyle seems to believe that there is no real division in the country.
King Honky Of Crackershire
November 24, 2022 @ 10:04 am
Are you opposed to divisiveness?
November 26, 2022 @ 1:43 pm
It’s Tennessee’s treasure. How that has anything to do with a Michigan attention hog. Is irrelevant. Other than those folks move here buy then destroy everything they touch.
November 23, 2022 @ 5:38 pm
I have personally driven to the Franklin Ave house just to see it. There is a church directly next door with an adjacent parking lot. You can sit in the church parking lot and take pictures of Hank and Audrey’s old house. It is currently owned, so you shouldn’t trespass. But it looks quite similar to how it looked in Hanks day. Interesting fact, Tammy Wynette bought and lived in the house after Audrey died. This would have been after George and Tammy split up. This is the house that Bocephus grew up in. I’ve read that back in the day, Audrey would throw paeties in that house and everyone from Jerry Lee to Sam Phillips would hang out. This is where I believe Jerry taught Jr to play piano! How cool is that!
November 25, 2022 @ 8:53 am
This is a beautiful home it should be saved as well as the history I hate when they destroy our past
November 23, 2022 @ 6:06 pm
speaking of all this stuff, what’s the best Hank Williams biography? I think there are a whole bunch of them out there.
November 23, 2022 @ 6:16 pm
The Colin Escott one I think is generally considered the definitive biography. I’m a huge fan of Chet Flippo, but his sort of dramatized biography is a little much. Those are the two that I have read, and I’ve read the Colin Escott one at least twice.
November 23, 2022 @ 6:10 pm
You have never had a nice word to say about Tim McGraw or faith hill which is odd because it seems like they have done a lot for Nashville esp during the infamous flood. You seem to have some sort if I’ll will toward them and this is just something you can jump on?
November 23, 2022 @ 6:30 pm
I’ve got no beef with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I came to McGraw’s defense when he was trying to get out of his contract with Curb Records and they were releasing Greatest Hits records in perpetuity, and gave him a lot of praise for those records he released afterwards with Big Machine.
I’m not saying that Tim McGraw and Faith Hill did anything wrong here. I’m just saying that if we are asking questions about what happened with Beechwood Hall and why it might be in such poor condition that demolition is the only option, maybe someone should ask what upkeep was happening under their watch, since they owned it for 20 years. It’s unlikely it went from great to terrible in 15 months since they sold it. Or maybe it did. I just think it’s a fair question to ask. Maybe they have a good answer. But right now, nobody’s asking it, and instead are turning their ire on the new owner. He may be a shark, I don’t know. But to imply he bought just to tear it down because he wants to strike at the soul of country music, and thus, America, seems a bit hyperbolic. He’s an investor. He wants to make money.
November 24, 2022 @ 12:49 pm
I personally don’t care for Tim McGraw … he made it very clear just how much of a southern gentleman he is when he hit that woman that touched his leg when he was in concert he actually hit her three times… SOUTHERN GENTLEMAN MY ASS!!!
November 23, 2022 @ 6:39 pm
When Tucker Carlson is flogging something that I agree with him on, I think he’s great. But Tucker is so relentlessly agenda-driven that I would not take anything he says as authoritative–even about something as seemingly inocuous and non-political as “Beechwood Hall”–without checking other,non-hyperventilating sources.
November 23, 2022 @ 7:48 pm
Tucker Carlson here is making the same mistake we see from other outlets that normally don’t cover country music when they decide randomly to veer into the country music space because something political sparked their interest. He’s just out of his depth, and saw an opening to sow outrage with his audience to enhance engagement. Normally we see this from the left, but it happens from the right too. One thing that makes Tucker unique in the cable media space is that he’s willing to take on the right and the left, even though he’s obviously more right-leaning. But I think he and Kid Rock tried to culture war this thing when the preservation of historic places is a pretty universal belief. They run the risk of making the effort to preserve Beechwood Hall more polarizing than it needs to be by going in this direction. Just tell the story accurately. It’s compelling enough for the preservation of the location without the hyperbole that detractors will use to undercut your position.
The soul of country music is not under attack here. But if you say it is, then busybodies like me get involved, and start undercutting your story.
Jer in Idaho
November 23, 2022 @ 7:37 pm
You would think being on the National Register of Historical Places would afford it some protection. Probably many loopholes, especially when it comes to private property.
November 23, 2022 @ 7:54 pm
So for some reason, because the house is not part of a subdivision and resides on private property, there is no real protection for it. If someone buys the property, they can do what they want. They also don’t have to take a demolition permit out if they decide to bulldoze it. Not exactly sure why this is, but I agree it’s pretty shocking.
November 24, 2022 @ 3:13 am
I think you pretty much gave the reason: because it’s private property and it’s not part of a city or subdivision. Where would they go to apply for a permit–maybe ask a deer?
November 24, 2022 @ 6:23 am
Not exactly sure why this is? Really? You don’t believe in complete freedom to do what you want with your own property?
Wilson Pick It
November 24, 2022 @ 6:36 am
Legally speaking, property can be thought of as a bundle of rights. It’s entirely possible to own a piece of property but have another entity, like a Land Trust or a historical preservation group, maintain certain rights to it. Of course those rights are usually bought by those groups, or gifted to them.
November 24, 2022 @ 9:12 am
I’m definitely for the freedom to do what you want with your own property. But when it comes to historically significant landmarks, I do feel like some reasonable covenances should be in place. I don’t want Wal-Mart putting a parking lot on a Civil War battlefield. The only reason we were able to save the Ernest Tubb Record Shop was due to historical designations on Lower Broadway in Nashville. Otherwise, Walker Hayes would be opening his Applebee’s there.
November 28, 2022 @ 8:27 pm
The National Register has no teeth at all. It’s basically a list of places with some interesting historic meaning, but it does nothing to protect them. The real preservation rules that matter are on a local level, so it’s up to the city or county to protect their local history. Of course, a local developer has a lot more influence in their own city than they do nationally, which leads to historic buildings getting torn down to build a chain restaurant or a bank branch or whatever.
The other big issue with a building like this that has been changed since it was built is deciding what moment to preserve. If this house can be saved, is it better if it looks like when it was built, or maybe when Hank Williams owned it, or maybe there’s some other more appropriate moment.
November 24, 2022 @ 6:12 am
I’m not a fan of any emotional plea used instead of a logical explanation. Any Brentwood’ian with 10’s of millions to dump on a house probably doesn’t care that much about preserving a historical site instead of building a mini mansion but we can’t bulldoze the entire past. And few are willing to navigate the abuse from diving into the nuance of the Civil War Also I can’t imagine standing in front of a Civil war gravestone in the South and not imagining that it is likely the 20 yr old child of someone who died from a non-slave owning family.
November 24, 2022 @ 7:02 am
Hyperbole…. in a monkey see, monkey do world, follower monkeys emulate leader monkeys.
Without hyperbole the US gov’t, and it’s propaganda arm, msm, become just another loud mouth inflicting its immorality on citizens. And that is NOT hyperbole.
November 24, 2022 @ 7:14 am
Maybe thats what is nice about states like Tennessee, in places where I live you have to have a permit to rake your leaves, but they seem to be able to demosh historic old places all the time in the name of progress.
November 24, 2022 @ 7:29 am
I live in a small town that has several buildings listed by some agency or other as having historical significance. Unfortunately more than a few of these are run down and dilapidated. I’m not an expert, but it seems that the designation applies restrictions to the use or construction allowed on the property, but offers no real financial support in maintaining such buildings. These historic building fall into disarray because any owner wishing to make use of the building find the restrictions and cost more than the worth of the actual structure or its intended use. Everyone wants these buildings of historic nature preserved, but someone wishing to preserve it and have it serve a function, often find the costs often far exceed the buildings value upon completion.
November 24, 2022 @ 9:20 am
Yes, good point. Beechwood Hall is a 6,000 sq. ft. mansion that would cost millions of dollars to renovate, especially if it hasn’t been maintained over the years. If a drunk Hank Williams wasn’t even willing to live there 70 years ago, what shape is it in now? A reasonable assessment of the situation and how much it would cost to renovate the property should be come to. It may be that Beechwood Hall is beyond repair. That would be a real shame, because I personally think it should be preserved. But sometimes it’s just not feasible. And if it is, it’s probably going to need the help of grants, fundraisers, etc.
November 24, 2022 @ 9:05 am
I’m of two minds on historical preservation. Of course there are buildings that have real significance, whether to history, architecture or something else. But there are plenty of others that are just old and have managed to survive. If we’re going to do preservation it has to be funded properly and when you’re spending money, especially taxpayer money, you have to have standards. No buildings with dozens of other examples in better shape, no dilapidated wrecks unless there are very good reasons for that kind of investment, no free ride restorations for a local wealthy property owner who “discovered” George Washington might have took a piss in his outhouse, just places where important events happened, unique or early examples of different styles of architecture, especially well-preserved buildings that provide a glimpse of daily life in earlier times. That sort of thing.
I think our current system of granting status based on the whims of a board and public opinion then doing nothing but curtailing the rights of property owners is the worst of both worlds. Important places deserve public support unless we want to see them torn down or turned into tourist traps. But at the same time it can be an incredibly expensive and time-consuming endeavor so we have to be selective. Outsourcing the maintenance and care of buildings that we deem important to the country to the private owners of the property results in situations where it’s to the owner’s advantage to let the place fall apart until the status can be removed at which point they can make some money. And I don’t blame them for following their interests, the law should recognize this and make sure the conflict doesn’t exist or is mitigated to the satisfaction of all parties.
With this situation I’d have to say tear it down. The structure has no connection to Hank Williams other than legal title. There are plenty of antebellum plantation houses, many of them in far better repair and with less later additions. If anything it sounds like the ditch he hurt his back jumping is historical and deserves a plaque and it’s own plot but that’s about it. If a ditch from seventy years ago still exists, of course.
November 24, 2022 @ 10:13 am
I agree with much of what you said. Often the designation of historical status and its restrictions are the reason for the decay of the property. I would much prefer to have a historical building in my community that was allowed to be repurposed with a design that honors the original building’s history while also allowing for modernization for living or business purposes, than a building with so many restrictions that it becomes abandoned.
Jer in Idaho
November 24, 2022 @ 2:38 pm
If being placed on the National Register of Historic Places is what you mean by “granting status,” it’s not done on a whim. The National Historic Preservation Act defines a very structured process for evaluating places that are nominated. You can never remove all subjectivity, but it’s definitely not willy nilly. Here is the 60-page manual the Park Serice uses of you want a peak at the criteria and process. https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/upload/NRB-15_web508.pdf
David: The Duke of Everything
November 24, 2022 @ 9:15 am
Well the fact that it’ was hanks farm instead of a house doesn’t really change much though the reporting could have been better. I think if it can be saved, then it should. Old original mansions like that are rare. Could hank have stayed a night or two there, sure. So it only enhances the place. Far as it being part of the song mansion on a hill. Maybe, probably not but you don’t know. I find issue with someone saying he probably didn’t write that song. Unless you know, probably best just to nod and move on.
November 24, 2022 @ 12:22 pm
Ah, yes. “Country Music Legend” Kid Rock…
November 24, 2022 @ 4:43 pm
November 24, 2022 @ 8:06 pm
Any artifact from back when times were good is worth preserving. I still have some old Rhodesian ammo. I’ll pass it down to the next generation. God bless the Old South.
November 25, 2022 @ 11:44 am
-The owners were “one time” donors to the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County, in 2019, 3 years before they bought the property. They are not current nor even close to being “top” donors.
-Kid Rocks downtown Nashville Restaurant and club is built directly on top of the site of a historic building in downtown Nashville, The Trail West Building” that was demolished in the “middle of the night” to make way for his “Club.” The hypocrisy is deafening….and also hilarious.
-The owners of Beechwood are native Tennesseans from Tn, went to college here and moved back over 10 years ago to be close to family.
-Dig deeper my friend, there is a political rumble in the firestorm and egos and personal vendettas against the lovely owners and The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. Perhaps former disgruntled employees that are no longer associated with the HF. Look closer into the “investment group”
that bought the property from Tim and Faith and lined their already full pockets with the sale. They did nothing to protect this property while they owned it, yet they are the ones behind the slanderous and libelist attacks against the owner. The could have put a conservation easement on it, donated to land trust, made the sale contingent on the preservation of the main home….they did not. They wanted the cash. Now they attack. Dig in deep to that and you will be really surprised at the “names” you will find.
-The owners have been bullied, threatened, vilified, and slandered. They don’t deserve this….
People need to know the real story. The house is NOT scheduled for demolition and no petition is going to change that one way or another.
November 26, 2022 @ 3:59 am
What is it you are saving country music from?
November 26, 2022 @ 8:20 am
I am not saving country music from anything. It’s just the name of a website and an idea. It’s the artists who are saving country music by re-instilling country with substance and the roots of the genre, and taking it back from the commercial interests on Music Row. I just try to do my little part to highlight these artists and their accomplishments, hold the industry accountable, and try to preserve the history of country music as best I can.
November 26, 2022 @ 8:55 am
I was worried there for a minute that country music was suffering some impediment beyond the recent dilution brought on by the usual corporate suspects. Many orphans of post modernity like the lad from Romeo, Michigan who has had a lifelong identity crisis, have thinned down one of the two American homegrown music stylings and have set avaristic eyes on the other will eventually follow that already noted rapacious nature onto another host to plunder. As I enter into the third year of my fifth decade having witnessed a fundamental change in the priorities of the youth from nationalistic/patriotic ones to those encompassing globalism and inclusive diversity what was called country music is now more than a country’s music. But one thing as been a big part of country music from its inception and that’s commercialism, that is to say the moment it was scribed into vinyl it lost its purity. Appalachian murder ballads and Delta blues laments are all that echo from the dark memories of the honest struggles, passions and desires that fuel this rocket ride we’re on.
November 28, 2022 @ 6:49 am
I think the whole Hank Williams owning it once is a needless distraction. The bigger issue to me is that there seems to be an obsession of destroying anything that is antebellum or associated in anyway with the pre-Civil War South. I believe there are those who view all of these old homes in the South like Confederate monuments or the grave stones of Confederate soldiers, they just want to destroy them. It is not a healthy way to view history.
November 28, 2022 @ 11:47 am
The person who bought the property likely would tear it down for the sake of hearing it down to make space for some mcmansion–as is the case most of the time. I highly doubt they’re targeting it just because it’s pre-civil war south. It’s not an important symbol of hatred or slavery to a good portion of people, it’s just a structure. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the current owner is a black medium who can feel the violence their ancestors felt on this specific site and they’re planning on erasing it to free their souls. I’m joking. That’s very far-fetched. I assure you, the owner does not care about architectural history anywhere, whether it be southern or Belgian.
November 28, 2022 @ 10:59 am
Save that house for the love of it
November 28, 2022 @ 2:28 pm
As a Virginian, I had to do a double-take to see if this was bluegrass player Larry Keel & Natural Bridge!
November 29, 2022 @ 7:46 am
Sounds like the story writer had an agenda.paid for by the new owner in some way.
November 29, 2022 @ 8:18 am
Yep. I bet I’m from California too.
My only agenda is presenting the public with the truth so they can decide.
November 29, 2022 @ 2:37 pm
I wonder how many folks that want this property saved are ready to put their money where their mouth is. Restoration of this magnitude could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and more likely exceed a million bucks. It’s certainly part of local history, being a 166-years-old and built by slave labor during the antebellum south. However, with only a passing connection to Hank Williams, the mansion is more a tribute to King Cotton than Country Music.
December 10, 2022 @ 7:31 pm
As a Public Historian grad student, I appreciate your well-researched and thoughtful post. The only thing I would say to amend is the cabin that you have as “on the property” is not actually a cabin or on the property. It is on the road close by called Carter’s Creek (off Carl Road). It is called the Morton House. It is where Tim McGraw and Faith Hill actually lived; they owned both properties. However, Beechwood is further down another close-by road called Bear Creek and separated by several other properties: https://www.southernliving.com/home/4009-carters-creek-pike-franklin-tn-faith-hill-tim-mcgraw-property