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County gives first approval on park at historic home

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The Bridal House. SUBMITTED

Members of the county General Operations and Budget committees gave the first go-ahead to accept a non-matching $10,000 state grant to be used for the historic Bridal House, which was recently bequeathed to the county.

The money will be used to build a small park on the five acres at the early 1800s Cottontown home, which is on the register of Historic Places; starting with a few picnic tables and swing set. In addition, committee members voted to name the park the Donald and Francis Brickey Park, after the owners who deeded the property to the county in a will.

County Executive Anthony Holt said he plans for the home to be self-funding - using monies from an upcoming auction of items that came with the house to pay for the utilities for several years, as well as utilizing jail trustees to do mowing on the property. The property is expected to cost between $5,000 and $10,000 annually to maintain, he said.

"The sale should bring in well over $25,000 and that's a very conservative estimate," Holt said. "We want to use this money to take care of the house, which is in good shape."

A group of volunteers called 'Friends of the Bridal House' has been formed to assist with the home, according to resident Jane Wright.

"We can advise on furniture, assist with a grand opening and other community events, and train docents," Wright said. "It's a very unique site - it's the only log structure left in Cottontown. We already have 20 ladies that want to help."

Holt said an appraisal of the property shows the value of the house at $359,280, with an additional $22,000 net worth of the barn to the rear of the property. He said he hopes to secure more grants by using the home's value as a match.

"TDEC has additional grant opportunities where we can use in-kind donations like the value of the property as a match," he said, adding that ultimately he would like to see a pavilion on the property. "Maybe I look at things differently - we're the second oldest county in Middle Tennessee and we have preserved all these historic houses.

"I think it's so important to us that we preserve our future. That's what is going to set us apart. We've got buildings here from the 1700s - that's pretty amazing."

The Bridal House was originally built in 1819 as a rectangular-shaped, two-story log building with a 1960's board and batten rear addition which forms a T. It is currently the only original log building in Cottontown and the only known house associated with the Cotton family who settled in the area.

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