Is Hank Williams’ former antebellum home really being demolished?

Bruno Cooke November 24, 2022
Is Hank Williams’ former antebellum home really being demolished?
Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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Musician Kid Rock appeared on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Tuesday, November 23, 2022, to decry the potential demolition of Beechwood Hall, a Nashville antebellum plantation home Hank Williams Sr once owned, in Franklin, Tennessee.

Many people have owned the house, in the past. These include American country singers Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. 

The house is a century-and-a-half old. Its name is the H G W Mayberry House, but it also goes by Beechwood Hall. 

Why is Kid Rock talking about the potential demolition of a home Hank Williams Sr once owned, and are there actually plans for it to be demolished, as Kid Rock suggests?

SHREVEPORT, LA – CIRCA 1947: Hank Williams performs on KWKH Radio circa 1947 in Shreveport, Louisiana. Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Kid Rock speaks out against ‘seeing history torn to the ground’

Kid Rock, real name Robert James Ritchie, told Tucker Carlson on Tuesday that he’s “sick of seeing history torn to the ground.”

“Whether it be in the form of monuments, statues and now something so important here in Nashville…” he said. “Where does it end?”

He was talking about Beechwood Hall. The home, which is about 21 miles south of Nashville, Tennessee, has in the past belonged to country music singers Hank Williams Sr, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill.

Construction on it finished in 1856. Its architectural style is Greek Revival and Italianate. It has been on the national register of historic places since 1988.

Is Hank Williams Sr’s former antebellum home scheduled to be demolished?

No. According to a statement, the current owner of Beechwood Hall uploaded to the Williamson County Heritage Foundation website on November 17, 2022, “there is no scheduled demolition” of the antebellum Hank Williams once owned.

The owner, Larry Keele, describes himself as a “native Tennessean and an admirer of beautiful rural scenery.”

Keele is from Lewisburg, Tennessee, and holds a bachelor of science degree from Tennessee Tech University.

Before he bought the house, per his statement, no one had lived in it for “30 to 40 years.” It had deteriorated. He wrote that it had “20 or more broken windows” and “appeared to have been that way for years.”

In order to prevent “any further rain and animal infestation,” he “boarded up all the broken windows.”

Beechwood Hall update warns against ‘sensationalist declarations and inaccurate information’

In his November 17 update, Beechwood Hall owner Keele sought to counter “misinformation” regarding a “burn pile.”

And in a further update from November 23, the Williamson County Heritage Foundation warns against “sensationalist declarations and inaccurate information that has detracted from earnest and dedicated efforts to preserve Beechwood Hall.”

“It is unfortunate,” the update reads, “this earnest enthusiasm for preservation has been marred by some false and inflammatory statements which ultimately harm these preservation efforts.”

Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Kid Rock, meanwhile, told Tucker Carlson he hopes more people will speak out. 

“I think there’s going to be many, many people [who] will get on board,” the New York Post quotes him as saying. “They can go to savebeechwood.org, and I think you will see a lot more country music stars, musicians, just great people in the community that want to preserve this for the next generation to come. Generations beyond that.”

When did Hank Williams Sr own the Nashville, Tennessee antebellum home?

Williams bought it in 1951. Its owner had been a man called E E Brown for seven years until then. Before Brown, the son-in-law of the original Beechwood Hall owner (H G W Mayberry) had kept it up.

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According to Saving Country Music, Hank Williams Sr had the funds to buy the home because of Tony Bennett’s successful cover of his song Cold Cold Heart.

It quotes historian Brian Turpen for that titbit. His book, Ramblin’ Man: Short Stories From The Life Of Hank Williams, apparently chronicles his purchase of the antebellum home. He bought it for $60,000 but never lived there. It was in need of refurbishment then and, by all accounts, has been ever since.

Originally, H G W Mayberry House, or Beechwood Hall, was the manor house of one of the three largest plantations in the area. It had 1,000 acres and, according to the Tales From Tennessee And Beyond blog, 24 slaves.

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Bruno is a novelist, amateur screenwriter and journalist with interests in digital media, storytelling, film and politics. He’s lived in France, China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines, but returned to the UK for a degree (and because of the pandemic) in 2020. His articles have appeared in Groundviews, Forge Press and The Friday Poem, and most are readable on Medium or onurbicycle.com.