Family acts to protect historic farm

20150315 - DNJ - Elmwood

As published in the Murfreesboro Post, Erin Edgemon, August 5, 2007

Not all Rutherford County farmers want to see their land turned into residential subdivisions and shopping centers.

As the county’s population continues to grow, creating a larger demand for new homes and new places to shop, many owners of large parcels of property are cashing in.

The Hord family is taking preventative measures to make a portion of their property — known as Elmwood — that lies near the Stones River National Battlefield less desirable for development.

Approximately 168 acres of the family farm situated between Old Nashville Highway, Northwest Broad Street and state Route 840 were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in July.

“The explosive growth of the city of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County threatens to destroy that rich agricultural heritage of the farm, since it lies directly in the path of future development,” stated the nomination form. “The county is rapidly losing its family farms and the exceptional integrity of Elmwood provides an important record of the area’s farming tradition.”

Property owners Charles and Joy Hord did not return a phone message left by the Murfreesboro Post.
Nine acres of the family’s farm and the main home were listed on the National Register in October 1973. The areas of significance were architecture, military and agriculture.

“I believe Charles and Joy Hord greatly appreciate the historic qualities associated with their property, and are also mindful of the limited measure of protection afforded by listing,” said Spurgeon King, a research associate at the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU, who completed the nomination form for inclusion on the National Register for Historic Place.

Being listed on the National Register of Historic Places doesn’t keep a property from being developed for residential or commercial purposes, but it does keep federal funds from being used in the development.

Joseph Aydelott, planning director for the city of Murfreesboro, said the Hord family property has many amenities that make it attractive for development. It is located near major thoroughfares such as Northwest Broad Street, Old Nashville Highway and state Route 840, which makes the property accessible to Interstate 24. The property also is accessible to city utilities and sewer.

The Hord family is said to own as much as 1,400 acres in the Old Nashville Highway area.

Aydelott said the family has expressed its desire to not see the property developed and for it to remain a farm for as long as possible.

“They made it real clear they plan to hold on to and keep it from being developed,” he said. “They have an ethic passed through generations to keep it from development.”

Elmwood has a long and well-documented history. Thomas Hord took ownership of the property in 1842. Fourth and fifth generations of the family now work the farm.

“Elmwood is historically significant because it is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history under the categories of agriculture, architecture, and military activity,” King said. “The property also embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period or method of construction in this case, a Greek Revival homestead constructed in 1842 and associated farm outbuildings constructed thereafter. The period of significance spans the years from 1842 to1957.”

Farm operations on the property quickly developed surplus crops, chiefly cotton, for the export market in the early 1840s. By the early 1860s, the farm produced corn, cotton, wheat and hay and had extensive livestock including horses, beef cattle, hogs and poultry. Slaves performed most of the farm labor.

Elmwood later went on to play a major role in the Civil War in the Battle of Stones River because of its strategic location — the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad and Nashville Pike transversed the property.

“Union occupation of Nashville in 1862 and the movement of Braxton Bragg’s Confederate Army to Murfreesboro meant that Elmwood lay directly in the path of converging northern and southern armies,” stated the nomination.

Union doctors commandeered the Hord farm as a hospital, and the family was confined to one room in the main house while operations were performed in the back parlor of the house. More than 6,000 casualties were said to have passed through the Hord farm.

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