By LANDON WOODROOF
Each January, Brentwood’s Historic Commission meets to discuss some of its top priorities for the year including the History Bowl and improvements to Primm Park.
The commission’s 2018 long-range planning meeting was held Thursday at the John P. Holt Brentwood Library.
Commissioners talked about a variety of projects, events and goals they hoped to accomplish in 2018. Those include the annual History Bowl, which the commission hosts, as well as other efforts geared toward preserving Brentwood’s past.
The Historic Commission is made up volunteers from the Brentwood community, including a representative each from the City Commission and the Planning Commission.
Here are some of the topics the commissioners covered Thursday:
History Bowl: For the eighth year in a row, Brentwood’s Historic Commission will host a special trivia competition for area high school students (although this is the event’s eighth year, it will actually only be the seventh bowl because it got snowed out one year).
When the event first started, only two schools participated: Brentwood High School and Ravenwood High School. By last year, though, the competition had grown immensely to include those two schools as well as Centennial High School, Fairview High School, Franklin High School, Independence High School, Page High School, Summit High School and Nolensville High School.
This year’s event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. at Brentwood’s City Hall.
Primm Park Events and Improvements: Located on Moores Lane, Primm Park is the home of the famous Boiling Spring Academy as well as the Fewkes site, with its five American Indian mounds constructed by the Mound Builder culture around 1200 A.D.
The Historic Commission hosts open houses at Boiling Spring Academy on the third Sunday of each month from April through October.
The commission raised $150,000 to restore the historic school several years ago, Commissioner Lynda Lynch said.
In 2018, the commission hopes to make some improvements to the parking area at the park. When the gates are open, there is a gravel parking lot for cars. Commissioners have noticed, though, that sometimes vehicles will pull up into the grass. The plan is to place a wooden perimeter around the lot to keep cars from venturing beyond it.
The commission also wants to put up a new marker visible from the road identifying the park.
“There will be better signage there because most people drive by and don’t even realize it’s there,” Historic Commission Chair Anne Laine Goad said.
When you visit the park by car, you have to walk on a path to get to the historic school from the parking lot. Commissioners also want to put up a bench along that path to allow people to stop and rest if need be before or after visiting Boiling Spring Academy.
Historical Markers: Each year the commission tries to put up historical markers identifying some places of note around town. In 2017, for instance, the commission erected a sign at both the Still-Williams-Jenkins cemetery in the Owl Creek subdivision and at the Layne cemetery off of Split Log Road.
In 2018, commissioners are hoping to find out more about an old cabin located near the intersection of Wilson Pike and Concord Road.
“We want to know who built it and who used it,” Goad said. Once they determine that information, they will decide on putting up a historical marker.
Historic Video: Nearly 20 years ago, the city produced a special film about Brentwood’s history.
The film covered the city’s history from way back until roughly its incorporation in 1969, Historic Commissioner Anne Dunn said.
With the city’s 50th anniversary looming in 2019, commissioners discussed the idea of creating a new, companion documentary to the first one that would deal with Brentwood’s history up to the present day.
Dunn said a subcommittee of the Historic Commission could help write the script for the film. She also noted a number of city resources that could come in handy for the documentary, including the city’s aerial mapping, which could show how the city has changed over time. There is also the archive Historic Commissioners Lynda Lynch and Loyce Hooker have been working to organize which could be a resource.
“Lynda’s got wonderful annual yearbooks of clippings that would be easy to go through and pick out,” Commissioner Chuck Sherrill said.
Holt family history: The Brentwood Library recently became the John P. Holt Brentwood Library thanks to the largesse of John P. and O’Delle K. Holt. O’Delle Holt left a significant sum of money to the library if the city decided to rename it after her husband, or build a new library named after him.
Goad said the Historic Commission should research the Holt family history, including the family’s historic Holtland/Wildwood mansion on Crockett Road.
“We don’t know much about the Holt family or Wildwood, as far as a real history written up on it,” she said. “Somebody needs to do some research so we can have real historic facts because eventually the library is going to decide to do something…and we want whatever it is they decide to put out to be accurate historically. Any plaques, any markers, we want them to be accurate.”
Lynch mentioned the commission had conducted an interview with the Holts’ nephew, Charles Witherspoon, close to 20 years ago that might prove to be helpful in the process.
Goad said someone should also go to take a look at historical archives to find original land grants and deeds.
“We’ll go through all the archives and go through the paper trail and create one report from that, and anyone else who has any other information we’ll collect all that and put it in to one big report,” Hooker said.
Slave cabins: This final item is not necessarily one that the commission will be tackling next year, but they did talk about it as an important topic to keep in mind.
The city-owned Ravenswood Mansion is the home to two historic slave cabins. Those cabins have been structurally stabilized in years past, but they have never been restored.
Goad said the commission should think about how it would like to see the city some day commemorate those cabins. For example, should a historical marker be put up to identify them and provide some history about them? Should they be restored so that people can actually walk inside them?
“Be thinking about what would be appropriate to put there and true to the history” of the place, Goad said.