The Cheatham County government could take possession of the historic Braxton Lee homestead as part of negotiations with a development team hoping to build hundreds of homes on the surrounding land.
Cheatham County Mayor Kerry McCarver told the Post that he met last week with Barry Mayo, a member of the developer group, who he said asked if the county would be interested in moving the Lee home elsewhere. McCarver cited both the relocation cost and “the devalued historic value” in rejecting the offer.
Then, the mayor said, the developer asked if the county would consider accepting the house as a donation.
“The Cheatham County Library Board recently notified the county history museum that the space the group now uses in the basement of the library would be needed for a computer lab. This left the historic group with no home. With the possibility of the Braxton property available to the county and could be used as the museum would be a big win for everyone involved,” McCarver told the Post.
“The board that oversees the museum is a stand-alone 501-C meets on July 8 and will let me know if the museum at the Braxton House is something they want to pursue. If they say they are interested, I will work to secure the property for the county and have a new location for the museum on one of the most historic sites in the county.”
The residence was built more than two centuries ago and has been home to several prominent area residents, including Braxton Lee, an early community leader in what is now Cheatham County and an ancestor of Gov. Bill Lee.
Reached by the Post, a representative for the development group did not confirm the planned donation to the county but did say the group plans to donate the property.
“Prior to purchasing the property in discussions with the owner and prior investment group, BAM committed to donating the house to any organization that was able to provide a plan to restore and maintain the house,” Ashley Dugger said. “We stand by that commitment.”
Cheatham County Historian Lisa Walker, who leads the organization that oversees the museum, said she has had no discussion with the developer about the proposal but plans to meet with McCarver this week.
David Lee, another Braxton Lee descendant who once owned the property and has been involved in fundraising efforts related to the home’s preservation, said he was “very thankful to the new developer for saving the house” after he “assumed it was going to be torn down.”
He said county leaders should seek a conservation easement on the property once they take possession.
“I like the possibility of using that house for historical events and programs, and we can get money for that and also work to get it brought back to where it needs to be,” Lee said. “I think it’s very good news.”