By John Oliver, President, Historical Society

Last week we visited an old home in Hartsville that has a fascinating history, the Lauderdale Estate. With a pedigree that makes the house museum-worthy, it has a new career as an “event” place. That is the home’s owners, Jeremy and Jordan Barnes, not only live in the house but rent it, and its lovely tree-shaded lawn, to people to have weddings, receptions, birthday parties, family reunions and such.

This week we meet another old house with a new career.

In 1854, construction began on a large, two-story brick home between Hartsville and Dixon Springs owned by the DeBow family, prosperous Hartsville merchants.

The home’s construction was time consuming because the bricks had to be made and fired on the property, as was the custom of the time. The builders had to dig up local soil with a high level of clay – not hard to do around here – and then mix it with water. They would shape it by packing it into wooden molds, drying it in the sun, then build large fires and bake them several hundred at a time.

Large limestone foundation stones had to be quarried and carried to the site.

Submitted photo
“Vinewood” is the distinctive home beside Highway 25 as you leave town, with a history that dates back to 1856 and now a promising future!

We don’t know how far work had progressed when the Civil War broke out in 1860, but the house wouldn’t be finished until after the war was over because workers left to go fight!

The unfinished house, with a slate roof imported from England, was used as a hospital after the 1862 Battle of Hartsville.

We know that it was finished and occupied by 1870, because the men in charge of mapping out the boundary lines of what is now Trousdale County met in the front parlor to do just that!

Not many homes can boast of being the birthplace of a county!

After the DeBow family, the home was occupied by the Andrews family, also local merchants.

In 1904 the house and farm were purchased by Mr. Coleman Winston. Winston was a prosperous businessman and worked for a company that made cast-iron cook stoves. He covered a large area with his salesmen and traveled a lot.

Coleman moved his sister and her family into the house to keep it lived in while he was away. He was a bachelor and had never been married.

Now the story takes a twist when on a business trip, Coleman Winston took deathly sick and was hospitalized. During his lengthy hospital stay he and his nurse struck up a friendship that blossomed into something more.

When he returned home to Hartsville he was no longer a bachelor!

Coleman and his wife Belle would have four daughters.

It was the Winstons who gave the home its name of “Vinewood,” for the many vines that once climbed the trees and old rock walls.

Always civic minded, Coleman Winston is best remembered for leading the efforts to replace the ferry on the Cumberland River between Hartsville and Lebanon with a bridge. The public rewarded him for his hard work by naming the bridge after him.

After Coleman and Belle Winston, J.C. and Sarah Bradshaw purchased the home and also raised four children there – three boys and a girl.

The Bradshaw family was in the oil business and sold oil and gas. Later the family built the Goodyear Tire and Auto Center in Hartsville. Today, it is run by their grandson.

While the Bradshaw family owned the home, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The house passed from the Bradshaw family to Buddy Bates, who then sold it to Tom and Freda Bennett.

The Bennetts have made improvements to the stately old home and it is worthy of having a period drama filmed there like those made by PBS or by the BBC.

Throughout the home, walls are covered in beautiful patterned wallpapers and the woodwork and trim are painted in pristine white. The effect is quite dramatic, befitting the lovely curved staircase in the front entrance.

Like the Lauderdale Estate, the charming home offers itself as an event place. Google vinewoodplantationwedding.org/history.

You can contact the owners to rent the house and its massive lawn for special occasions.

Better yet, the Bennetts have recently put the home up for sale. Which means that someone out there has a readymade home and business waiting for them!