Tornado damage to Boiling Spring Academy discussed at Historic Commission meeting

Tornado damage to Boiling Spring Academy discussed at Historic Commission meeting

Photo courtesy of Carole Crigger


One of Brentwood’s most treasured historic sites was not spared in the tornado and storm system that barreled through parts of Franklin and Brentwood March 1.

Damage to Boiling Spring Academy building from the recent extreme weather was one of the main topics of discussion at Friday morning’s meeting of Brentwood’s Historic Commission. A weather-damaged barn on the Witherspoon property off of Crockett Road and the commission’s upcoming geocaching event were also included on the agenda.

Commissioner Carole Crigger described some of the effects that the tornado had on Boiling Spring Academy, which first opened as a schoolhouse in 1833. The schoolhouse is also situated near American Indian mounds.

The wind cracked and blew out two windows facing the mounds. Three shutters on the side of the building were torn from the building and deposited to the winds.

“It took one of the shutters and literally blasted it over next to the mound,” Crigger said. “I think it’s lucky the building is still standing.”

The damage to the roof, however, was most serious. As Crigger described it, the force of the winds during the storm pulled the roof away from its supports, although not enough to render the building dangerous.

The fact that the old schoolhouse did not suffer a worse fate was a shock to Crigger.

“I’m surprised it didn’t take the roof off,” she said.

Commissioner Anne Dunn was not as surprised. She spoke about the durability of old-time construction.

“Look how many years it’s been there,” she said. “It’s a sturdy building. They built things sturdy in those days.”

The city hired Structural Engineering & Inspections, LLC to visit the historic site and draw up a preliminary report on the extent of damage to the roof. The report outlines that damage:

“The winds associated with the recent storms appears [sic] to have caused a relatively high uplift force on the northern roof slope causing the rafters to be lifted off of the top of the ceiling joists and top of the exterior wall. We believe the roof to be safe in its current condition, however, we would recommend that some bracing be provided until the proper repairs can be engineered and implemented at the site.”

The proposed repairs are detailed further in the report.

Crigger noted that another, perhaps less essential part of the site suffered damage as well. An investigation of that damage resulted in a somewhat unwelcome discovery.

“One creepy thing I have to add, the outhouse blew over and there were a pair of white socks underneath the outhouse,” Crigger said. She went on to say that the Parks Department recommended that the outhouse be anchored down. In 12 years, this was the second time it had blown over.

Later on, Planning Director Jeff Dobson discussed the barn on the historic Witherspoon property. In February, a tree fell onto the barn. Dobson said that the owner expressed a desire to demolish the heavily damaged barn and build a new one in its place.

The damaged barn stands on a historic tract in the midst of what is being developed as the Witherspoon subdivision. The tract also houses the Holt/Wildwood mansion. Despite this, Dobson said there was no mention of the barn in any of the archaeological studies of the land that he had seen.

“More than likely a lot of that has been replaced over time,” Commissioner David Johnston said, looking at a photograph of the barn’s interior. “A lot of that is dimensional lumber which is newer.”

Finally, the geocaching event was discussed. This event begins Saturday, May 6.  Approval from the Brentwood Police Department for the 10 geocache boxes has been received.

The unique, clue-based “treasure hunt,” will have a box at every endpoint. Each box contains items that participants can take in exchange for depositing an item of their own. Participants will use GPS devices to find the boxes.

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