FRANKLIN, Tenn. (WKRN) — A home in Franklin is now the center of a nationwide conversation about historic preservation.
Beechwood Hall survived the Civil War and was owned by country legend Hank Williams, and superstars Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. But it wasn’t front and center until Kid Rock made an appearance on Tucker Carlson claiming the home would be bulldozed. The interview has been viewed nearly 2 million times.
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The owners say statements being made about what they are doing with the property, “are absolutely untrue.”
The estate was purchased by Larry Keele in 2021. In a statement he sent to News 2, Keele expressed his family’s love for the property, admitting they did remove a 1970s addition and the original banister had been removed from the home to protect it from further damage. No bulldozer has been booked by him, however, his family is looking at all potential options.
Bari Beasley President and CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County wants nothing more than to see the property restored to its former glory.
“When we learned in late October that Beechwood Hall had been acquired by the Keeles, there was a potential for demolition. We reached out immediately because we just wanted them to know about every option that was available to them,” Beasley said.
A tour inside the home shows the current state of the property which sat unoccupied for decades. While it may look alarming, Beasley says it’s salvageable.
“Ultimately, the decision is in the hands of the property owners. But we’re doing all we can to advocate and to cast that vision for how it can be saved, what resources are available to this family. And so, we’re very optimistic about a great outcome.”
For those who rallied the grassroots efforts, they say it’s welcome news and a lesson to the country that properties on the national register of historic places aren’t automatically protected from demolition.
“I am delighted that the home is winterized, that the doors are shut,” said Mary Pearce, Former Director of the Heritage Foundation. “We will be working with county government to hope that there can be some kind of protection for the other historic sites in Williamson County.”
The Heritage Foundation has created an entire site dedicated to the Beechwood Hall property and the process.
In his statement, Keele said the family is working closely with the Heritage Foundation. You can read the full statement below:
”As a native Tennessean, born and raised in Lewisburg, I’m deeply connected to Middle Tennessee’s beautiful rolling country, and my wife and I treasure and appreciate the importance of local history and preserving our beautiful historic landscapes.
We were made aware of a 268-acre portion of the Beechwood Hall property in mid-2021 and immediately fell in love with it. Our negotiation with the selling partnership was relatively brief, and we closed on our purchase one day after the investment partnership closed on the larger 620-acre tract. We understood that the house had been sitting mostly vacant for 30 to 40 years, and was in a very deteriorated state. The house had 20 or more broken windows on both levels, and appeared to have been that way for years. Our immediate priority was to stabilize the house and prevent further rain and animal infestation.
In our effort to best preserve the historical character of the property, we are working closely with the Heritage Foundation to look at all potential options. The Heritage Foundation’s team has secured the home for the winter on our behalf, and are assessing its condition. 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, so it was carefully removed and is now stored in a safe, conditioned space.
We have been disappointed and saddened at how our efforts have been portrayed in the community. Many of the statements we have read regarding what we have done and are doing with the property are absolutely untrue, highly misleading and deeply concerning. We know we can’t please everyone, but it is our sincere hope that interested parties can respect the process we are in with the Heritage Foundation and allow us to do a full assessment of Beechwood Hall over the coming months.”