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Tipton-Haynes Historic Site sees numerous renovations

By CHAD FRED BAILEY

Are you a Franklinite or a Tiptonite? Do you side with the State of Franklin or the State of North Carolina? How you answer these questions showcased your loyalty to Col. John Tipton or Governor John Sevier and determined which side of the Battle of the State of Franklin, you would have been on at the Tipton-Haynes Historical Site on Feb. 27, 1788.

The State of Tennessee-owned historic site and home of Col. John Tipton and Confederate Senator Landon Carter Haynes, is currently undergoing major renovations to the eleven historic buildings and grounds to improve historical interpretation as well as preservation of the buildings and grounds themselves.

Steeped in regional and county history, Tipton-Haynes has been part of the Washington County community for about as long as the county has existed. The oldest building on the site, the Tipton House, dates to the 1780s, and began having some loving care performed to it late last summer when logs near the chimney were uncovered due to water damage over the years. This project was one of many in the Major Maintenance Project that began with Project funding from the Tennessee Historical Commission which the site received in 2017. 

This first project funding encompassed nearly three-quarters of a million dollars and was one of the largest the site had seen. Yet, the site needs lots of loving care and maintenance and preservation initiatives. 

Taking care of a historic site is not always the easiest in the state. Over the years, I have gotten to visit many historic sites and parks in Northeast Tennessee, and with talking with many of the workers, caretakers, and volunteers, funding has always been an issue for preservation, maintenance and loving care projects. There is always more that you want to do with a site, and always more that needs fixing.

 Tipton-Haynes receives on average $65,000 a year from the Tennessee Historical Commission for operations, with other monies coming from grants, donations, and event rentals. Yet, sometimes miracles do happen.

Sitting down with co-director Matthew Frye at Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site on Saturday, we talked about a number of items, but probably the most prevalent and most important topic is the possibility that the site will receive a $2,450,000 capital project fund through the State of Tennessee and Tennessee Historical Commission. 

Earlier this month, Governor Bill Lee released his Budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022, which showcased this request to the Tennessee Legislature. If passed, the site should receive the funds come July. Yet, the list is long for the money.

In Lee’s Budget request, only two sites are listed as requesting capital project monies: Tipton-Haynes and Sparta Rock House. Out of the two, Tipton-Haynes would receive the bulk of the money.

Some of the projects the site is looking to use the money for include fixing walls at the Tipton House as well as giving it a coat of fresh paint and replacing the electrical wiring in the home so the home can be used in the evenings. 

In addition to the house, additions to the Visitors Center are also requested. One addition would enclose the current walkway into the center, adding an additional room and expanding the museum, as well as expanding the gift shop and adding a lounge area. Another enclosement of the porch off the conference room would allow a kitchen to be built and hot food and catering services to be made easier when the site is rented for weddings and private events. 

The nature trail, on the site, also would be reworked, taking out the current railroad ties and stair cases and replacing them all. Bad logs on the barn will also be replaced to make sure the building can stand for many years to come. Roofs on almost all the buildings are also needing replaced due to leaks, and many gutters refurbished. 

When all of these items are complete, Tipton-Haynes will look like a different place to the nearly 12,000 to 14,000 people who visit each year. When asked how members of the public can help Tipton-Haynes get the needed attention to get Governor Lee’s emphasis on the site passed, Frye said, “Publicity.” 

Anyone interested in advocating for the Tipton-Haynes renovation funds can contactState Representatives Rebecca Keefauver Alexander and Tim Hicks and State Senator Rusty Crowe.