Wynnewood
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Walk Into Tennessee’s Past at Wynnewood

The stagecoach rumbled along the rough track, crossing Cherokee Indian territory on its way from Knoxville to Nashville. It pulled up outside an impressive two-story log structure perched on the wooded hillside, horses breathing hard, and the passengers alighted for their overnight stay at Castalian Springs. The year is 1832, and the inn and mineral springs resort is a popular stop for weary travelers who often return with their families to enjoy the health-giving sulphur spring waters.

Colonel Alfred Wynne and his wife Almira were gracious hosts, capitalizing on the strategic location of their 10-room inn on the main stagecoach line that followed Avery Trace, the primary overland route cut through the wilderness linking early settlements of pioneers across Tennessee.

Known today as Wynnewood, on Highway 25 in Castalian Springs, the 110ft log home built 180 years ago is Tennessee’s largest existing log structure. After suffering a devastating direct tornado hit in February, 2008, it finally reopened to the public on July 4, 2012.

Westward expansion led longhunter Isaac Bledsoe to discover an idyllic concentration of natural mineral springs and licks in 1772 while following buffalo trails.

The settlement of Bledsoe Station grew as a fortified refuge from Native American attacks for families trying to carve out a living in the new territories, but Bledsoe himself met an untimely death at 34 when killed in a raid. His property was acquired by General James Winchester, builder of Cragfont and founder of Memphis, and later inherited by Winchester’s daughter, Almira.

Wynnewood, as the mineral springs resort was later called, was originally built as a stagecoach inn set amongst a beautiful grove of trees and spectacular views. Limestone blocks for the foundation were quarried from a nearby hillside, and hardwood logs were cut from the property and hand hewn.

When the stage line was moved further south, Wynne moved his family into the house and turned it into a mineral springs resort and working farm. It soon became the hub of the whole community.

 

Colonel Wynne was not a good businessman, but excelled as a slave trader and breeder of thoroughbred horses. The family entertained constantly, and were personal friends with President Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Sam Houston. Visitors to Wynnewood even included John Hunt Morgan’s Raiders during the Civil War, and an incognito visit by infamous outlaw Jesse James. Along with many original furnishings throughout the house, the actual bed that James slept in will soon be on display.

On Wynne’s frequent lengthy slave buying trips, his wife was left to take care of their 14 children, run the school house, the farm, the mineral springs resort, and take care of business. 

The restoration of Wynnewood after the tornado has been extensive, with a number of positive improvements. The house now has a more historically accurate look, and the original family dining room is open to the public for the first time. Coming soon will be a visitor’s center and gift shop, and an archaeological display prepared by a group of research students from Middle Tennessee State University.

Rotating displays and museum exhibits will ensure visitors to the historic site will see something new each year. Photographs documenting the tornado damage and restoration are also quite amazing.

The historic home is open for tours Wednesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is charged. Take a tour and imagine yourself back on a stagecoach arriving at the mineral springs resort!

 

Hi! I’m Dayle Fergusson. As a transplanted Aussie living in Middle Tennessee since 1986, I have been a freelance travel...Read on

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    Patricia Davidson

    I enjoyed this article.

    My maternal grandfather’s family were from Sum ner Co., TN – Castalian Springs was home for the Bate and Weatherred families and Station Camp Creek for the Sholders. Very pretty country.

    My ggg-gf, Col. Humphrey Bate and family lived at Hawthorne, which I understand the State of TN has taken to make a museum. My 5th gr-gf was Francis Weatherred who built his home ca 1800 I believe.

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    Claude Reese

    Wow!v What a great article. How in the world did you find this place?

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    Dayle

    Patricia, thank you for sharing a little of your family history. If you visit Wynnewood, just inside the entrance you can see an 1878 map of Sumner County on the wall. It lists many of the families living in the Castalian Springs area at that time.

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    Dayle

    Claude – Wynnewood is a treasure just waiting for people to discover on the road between Gallatin and Hartsville. I’ve yet to go back and visit the fortified Indian village on a nearby hillside that dates back thousands of years.

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