Brentwood in Williamson County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)
Cistern and Root Cellar
Settlers realized the value of harvesting and saving rainwater below ground in storage containers called cisterns.
Fresh foods were kept from spoilage by storing them in underground root cellars that acted much like modern-day refrigerators.
Most cisterns during that time used a simple bucket and rope. But Ravenswood, a very wealthy plantation, had the best in new inventions such as the Boss cistern pump with a pulley system to remove the water from the storage area.
Root cellars were used to keep food from freezing during the winter and cool during the summer months to prevent spoilage. Vegetables such as potatoes, onions, carrots and other food supplies including fruits, home canned foods, and salt/cured meat were usually placed in the root cellar in the autumn, after harvesting.
Based on evidence, it appears that the Ravenswood cistern and root cellar were strategically located on the south side of the house near a former door (now filled-in)
Ravenswood's root cellar, like many constructed during the 1800s, was later converted into a greenhouse.
Root cellars are currently experiencing a rediscovery, not merely because of the pleasures of eating self-grown food, but also because of the actual possibility of reducing expenses and providing for significant food storage.
Records indicate that over 40,000 years ago Native Australians developed the technique of burying their produce in order to preserve it for future use.
Present day cisterns in our country are used mainly for irrigation due to concerns over water quality.
Top left: Cistern pump before restoration in 2012.
Top right: Looking through the root cellar roof before restoration.
Erected 2014 by City of Brentwood, Tennessee.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Agriculture • Architecture • Environment • Waterways & Vessels.
Location. 35° 56.779′ N, 86° 46.278′ W. Marker is in Brentwood, Tennessee, in Williamson County. Marker can be reached from Marcella Vivrette Smith Park Road. Marker is located about 25 feet south 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. Spring House (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Seward Hall (approx. 1.4 miles away); The Boiling Spring Site (approx. 1.4 miles away); Boiling Spring Academy (approx. 1½ miles away); Carothers Family (approx. 2 miles away); Forge Seat (approx. 2.1 miles away); Andrew Crockett 1745-1821 (approx. 2.1 miles away); Cool Springs House (approx. 2.4 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 46 times since then. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on February 6, 2021, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee.