The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County has voiced opposition to the Milcrofton Utility District’s attempt to seize and destroy part of a historic Holly Hill Farm located in northern Williamson County. The family farm, owned by Andrew and Marianne Menefee Byrd, is one of the last remaining historic farms along Holly Tree Gap Road, which features an original section of the Middle Road, the original road between Franklin and Nashville in 1799.
The Milcrofton Utility District board, which is comprised of three non-elected members, recently filed a condemnation lawsuit to seize private property to blast a 40” foot cliff into an unstable hillside, and place two large 2 million gallon water tanks to provide extra water pressure to rapidly developing areas in southern Williamson County.
“The mission of the Heritage Foundation is to preserve and protect the rich cultural heritage of our community, and the Menefee/Byrd farm is one of those historic places we will advocate to protect. Milcrofton’s pursuit of the Holly Tree Gap land not only disrespects private property rights, but it also disregards the historical significance of this special site that sits well outside of their service district.” said Bari Beasley, President and CEO of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. “We are asking the Milcrofton Utility Board to reverse its decision and find an alternative location for their water tanks that will not destroy a historically significant piece of Williamson County’s history.”
Following the two-day Battle of Nashville on December 15th and 16th,1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee retreated south towards Franklin. On Dec. 17th, the Confederates approached the Holly Tree Gap. There they fought several Federal regiments, suffering heavy losses totally 250 Confederates captured, and an unknown killed and wounded. Federal losses numbered 22 killed and 60 wounded. This historic retreat signified the fall of Hood’s Army and was just one of the many pivotal moments that took place along the Holly Tree Gap during the Civil War in Williamson County. The Milcrofton Utility board has yet to provide archeological, or environmental impact studies, raising fundamental questions about their disregard for private property rights and the preservation of historic greenspaces.
“The Menefee/Byrd farm is a historic property located along the earliest established transportation corridor that connected Nashville to Franklin. This historic corridor and the generational Menefee/Byrd farm connected to it must be protected,” said Rachael Finch, Senior Director of Preservation and Education for the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. “The historic significance of this naturally occurring hollow cannot be understated. Due diligence has not been considered by the Milcrofton Utility Board, including a full historic survey, complete with an archaeological and environmental assessment to determine historic and cultural resources located within the parameters of the proposed placement of water tanks.”
More than 1,700 people have signed the “Save Holly Tree Gap” Change.org petition opposing Milcrofton’s efforts. As Williamson County’s leading historic preservation organization, The Heritage Foundation is calling on its supporters to oppose the Milcrofton Utility Board’s attempts to irrevocably scar an important piece of Williamson County’s history and sign the petition.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Cedric Dent Jr., Brentwood Homepage)