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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Brentwood in Williamson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
 

Spring House

 
 
Spring House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 6, 2021
1. Spring House Marker
Inscription.  
What's the Significance?
Spring houses were very vital to early settlers as a protected source of natural clean drinking water and a means to preserve food. Reliable springs helped determine the location of farm and plantation homes prior to the 20th century. Spring houses were often the first structure built on the property.

The historic importance of the Ravenswood spring house is that the waters of this spring joined with the waters of the spring at historic Inglehame located across Wilson Pike to form the headwaters of the Little Harpeth River. This made the spring not only important to the Ravenswood plantation but also to Brentwood and the Middle Tennessee area.

Staying Cool
Like most spring houses, Ravenswood's spring house was built over a natural flowing spring. Its main use was for the long-term storage of food that would otherwise spoil, such as fruit, vegetables, meat or dairy products.

It was an early form of a refrigerator. The constant temperature of the water coming from under the ground would keep food cool during the summer and keep them from
Spring House Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 6, 2021
2. Spring House Marker
freezing in the winter.

Unique Features
Ravenswood plantation's wealth is evident in this antebellum limestone spring house which measures 16' x 20'. Unique features include interior stuccoed walls, a second floor that was used for storage of other farm produce, a cantilevered roof overhang to protect the two entrances and, originally, a slate roof.

(Sidebar)
Tidbits
• A Long Journey: The spring that starts at Ravenswood joins with another spring to form the headwaters of the Little Harpeth River which is a tributary to the larger Harpeth River. The Harpeth River joins with the Cumberland River, the Cumberland River merges with the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River carries the Ravenswood spring water to the Gulf of Mexico.
• Spring houses are still useful today as a means of going green to conserve resources or to provide refrigeration in areas remote to electricity.
• Brentwood is located in the Little Harpeth River Valley. The river that begins at the Ravenswood spring provides rich soils, a diverse ecosystem and water for inhabitants of the area. Early Indians and settlers hunted, fished and raised crops in this rich, fertile land.
• Spring house construction usually created a pool of water about two feet deep inside the building. A stone shelf, built around the pool's
Ravenswood House image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, February 6, 2021
3. Ravenswood House
perimeter, was where milk, butter, eggs and other perishables could be kept. Apples, peaches, and vegetables were kept on an upper level.

Captions
• Above: The lower openings were originally protected with louvered grilles and plank doors to ventilate the interior to protect the materials stored inside.
• Right: There are two openings in the rear wall for runoff. Between the openings, a trough was added to provide drinking water for farm animals.
• Remnants of the stucco covered interior walls and a trough to channel the spring through the structure. The pump was added later to provide water outside the building.
 
Erected 2014 by City of Brentwood, Tennessee.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Natural Features.
 
Location. 35° 56.799′ N, 86° 46.186′ W. Marker is in Brentwood, Tennessee, in Williamson County. Marker is on Marcella Vivrette Smith Park Road, on the right when traveling north. Marker is located along park entrance road about 450 feet east of the Ravenswood mansion. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1825 Wilson Pike, Brentwood TN 37027, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cistern and Root Cellar (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Boiling Spring Site (approx. 1.4 miles away);
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Seward Hall (approx. 1½ miles away); Boiling Spring Academy (approx. 1½ miles away); Carothers Family (approx. 2.1 miles away); Forge Seat (approx. 2.1 miles away); Andrew Crockett 1745-1821 (approx. 2.1 miles away); Cool Springs House (approx. 2.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Brentwood.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on February 7, 2021. It was originally submitted on February 6, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 39 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on February 6, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
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Mar. 1, 2021