Beesley cabin ready to leave

Doug Davis, The Daily news Journal, September 26, 2006

A log home that once graced farmland on Beesley Road has been stripped back to its original size to be moved from Rutherford County.

The former home of Pauline and Frank Beesley was acquired and will move to Williamson County as part of a Murfreesboro, Rutherford County and Tennessee Department of Transportation project to widen a portion of Beesley Road between state Route 96 West and state Route 840. Construction of a new interchange and bridge over state Route 840 began last month.

The 2.6-mile project, including five lanes and an 840 interchange between state Route 96 West and Burnt Knob Road is set for completion in 2008, according to Dana Richardson, traffic director of the Murfreesboro Planning and Engineering Department.

The pre-Civil War home had to be moved to make room for the new road.

“Tennessee Department of Transportation donated that cabin to Williamson County to be a part of a heritage village at the fairgrounds,” said B.J. Doughty, community relations officer for TDOT.

The Beesley Road log cabin had been in the family since the Beesleys moved into the area in 1804. It is near the former Beesley Primitive Baptist Church and cemetery, which are both on the National Register of Historic Places.

“We looked at moving it to the church, but it was cost-prohibitive and there were no resources available,” said John Marshall, great-grandson of Pauline and Frank Beesley.

The Riverdale High School agriscience teacher still cares for the old church and its cemetery.

His grandmother, Jonetta Beesley, said she can’t help but be disappointed that her in-laws’ former home is being moved out of the county.

“I guess progress goes on,” she said Monday. “I was hoping they would keep it here.”

Jonetta Beesley and her husband, Frank Beesley Jr., built a home on Beesley Road in 1970 and ran a farm for a number of years there. The Cloister subdivision is under construction there.

The old log cabin had been added to a number of times.

“When I married into the family, the kitchen and the dining room and a little back porch were added onto the back of it,” said Jonetta Beesley.

In preparation for the move to Williamson County, the newer sections of the home were removed. The home has two rooms downstairs and two rooms upstairs. A front porch had been removed. Just inside the front door, a hallway leads to the back of the house. On the left is a bedroom and the living room is on the right. Two bedrooms are at the top of a narrow flight of stairs, with a narrow hall in between. Logs show from behind clapboards on the front and two sides of the structure. The back of the house has several versions of wooden siding on top of the cedar logs.

“It is really a wonderful example of folk architecture,” said Michael Gavin, who works in the Tennessee national heritage area of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation. “It has a number of details that are fairly rare in log (cabin) construction.”

He listed dovetailed corner notches as one example. Gavin looked over the old home late last week. He said nails are like those used in the early 1800s.

“It appears that it had been moved at an early date because the logs are numbered,” Gavin said.

The home is to be relocated to the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Park, located off the Interstate 65 interchange at Peytonsville Road to be a part of a historic village there.

“It is unfortunate, but it is much better than it being destroyed,” said Gavin, of the pending move.

He understands the Beesley log cabin will be moved to Williamson County “pretty soon.”

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