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Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014

Historic Bell Buckle? It lost some history today.

Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2012, at 10:41 PM

(Photo)
Photos courtesy of Kimi Abernathy
We were amazed and saddened earlier today to see one of the grand old homes of Bell Buckle being torn down. No fanfare, no efforts that we are aware of to sell it or move it, just demolished.

Webb School now owns the property and we had always heard that they cherished the building and its history but today's action has to make you wonder. Bell Buckle is usually a hard town to keep a secret, but this one was contained well.

To learn more go to a Times Gazette article written in 2009 when the home was sold to Webb. http://www.t-g.com/story/1588489.html

Having had a few calls since the event occurred, it does not seem to have been because of structural problems, unless it took place in the last three years. I know I hated to see some of the old trees disappear and a healthy Ginko tree in front, but I just figured they had different landscaping values than I.

Any thoughts, remembrances?


Comments
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If they pursue it, then they have found an interesting angle, but I would be surprised if there is a legal angle. It appears that a legal owner, performed a legal demolition ( not a popular one).

They apparently knew it would not be popular and decided to push it to completion with as little publicity as possible.

While the action they chose met resistance, maybe it would have been a worse public relations nightmare if the townspeople were able to speak their mind, but Webb School progressed anyway.

The question on my mind was what they have in mind for the lot and if in fact they have nothing immediate, why do it now? Waiting might have come up with a good opportunity to use it and if they had a pressing need for the lot later, it would be more palatable to explain the reason and tear it down.

They have no legal reason to explain, but I would think it would be better PR to do so, unless the reason really doesn't make a lot of sense.

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 7:18 AM

As usual as things go in Bell Buckle all the uproar over the house being torn down is over. Have we forgotten already what a piece of history this was? It's such a shame that more town's people don't get involved and stay involved. I for one am still terribly upset and have asked the Channel 4 I Team to investigate. Whether there is enough to go on for a full investigation remains to be seen. This is our town and we need to take notice!

-- Posted by jetmeaway on Wed, Aug 1, 2012, at 12:45 PM

If someone filed an application for demolition . . . wouldn't you think they are going to demolish it rather than find alternative dispositions? Just sayin . . .

-- Posted by bbbluebird on Tue, Jul 17, 2012, at 11:13 AM

I have not spoken to Jenny, so I cannot speak from first-hand conversation but I am supposing that the Webb board chose not to publicize the decision, except to get a permit. Mayor Webb told me he was aware of the original intent but thought they were going to seek alternative dispositions.

Jenny or anyone else is certainly welcome to comment here. Since Mayor Webb and I had talked, I asked if I could refer to our discussion and he agreed. If he feels I have missed something from that conversation, would encourage him to comment as well.

-- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Jul 17, 2012, at 6:36 AM

I am confused how the town did not have adequate notice for the demolition. According to the Webb School web page and the Bell Buckle web page, Jenny Hunt sits on the Webb School Board of Trustees and is vice-Mayor of Bell Buckle. Surely she was aware the pending demolition as it was voted on by the board in the spring.

-- Posted by Kimi on Mon, Jul 16, 2012, at 11:30 PM

Well, speaking of Mayor Webb, he called me today to discuss the situation. I believe him, or I would have declined to comment either way, so here goes.

He was aware of the school's application for demolition, but differs with Webb School's assertion that the town was well apprised of the situation, or at least he was not. The way he thought it had been left was that the school would seek alternative dispositions of the home.

He also mentioned to school officials that from a pubic relations standpoint, it would be good to handle this carefully since he thought there would be public opposition.

Apparently Mayor Webb did not learn there was a final decision to tear the home down until his return from vacation around the 4th of July.

Even then, he was not aware that it would happen so quickly and was just about as surprised as all of us when the wrecking crew showed up.

For those who thought (as did I) that it was on a historical preservation list, it was not. The town was looking at extending the historical district up from the existing commercial businesses but had run into strong opposition from homeowners.

The home was identified as a historical building but apparently had no official City, State or National protection so the owner, (Webb School) was legally allowed to do whatever they wished.

The remaining big question is why? I would expect we will never get an official explanation, but who knows? Instead I would expect the School to just let things die down and count on people losing their interest.

I guess it comes down to a big disappointment for those of us who had a historical appreciation of the home and those who had an emotional tie as well.

-- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Jul 16, 2012, at 8:37 PM

Depending on who issued the permit will determine how long it is good. Bell Buckle's permit usually run for 6 months but you have up to a year to finish the work. I don't know how Bedford County permits work. One of my biggest issues with this is with the property being on the counties historical register how could anyone get a permit to demolish it and with the Bell Buckle's historical commission not knowing anything about it. Also if Mayor Webb was involved with the decision what was he thinking. It's a shame the town of Bell Buckle let this happen all the while there are several properties in town that need cleaned up and houses torn down but they do nothing.

-- Posted by jetmeaway on Mon, Jul 16, 2012, at 9:58 AM

If the town was working on historic ordinances, maybe that is why it suddenly went down.

I thought most permits were issued for 30 days. Are they open ended?

-- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Jul 15, 2012, at 3:08 PM

should have read "historic".

-- Posted by notapoliticalfan on Sun, Jul 15, 2012, at 12:50 PM

I have questions. Was the school aware that the town was working on ordinances (historice & demolition)? Had anyone from the town discussed this with them? Who among the town officials had been contacted other than the Mayor?

-- Posted by notapoliticalfan on Sun, Jul 15, 2012, at 12:46 PM

What was Webb School thinking? The Sain house was a giant piece of not only the school and Bell Buckle's history but of Bedford County, the horse industry and the former owners. If the cost of renovation was the problem why did they already spend thousands of dollars on repairs just to tear it down. A demolition permit was issued on May 2 but who issued it?......the town of Bell Buckle or Bedford County? Why wasn't there a public meeting held to get input from the residents or even a notice of intent? I feel it's just another injustice toward Bell Buckle and it's community. It's time the residents wake up, take pride in our community and get involved.

-- Posted by jetmeaway on Sun, Jul 15, 2012, at 10:04 AM

As a member of the Bell Buckle Historic Commission I'm sickened not just by the destruction of the Sain House, but by Webb School's failure to contact the commission or notify us in any way, shape or form their plans for the building. According to the TG the school worked with the Bedford County Historical Society, but didn't bother to talk with us? I'd also like to ask that those of you who are upset by the loss of such a valuable historic building get involved in efforts to pass ordinances that would help protect other historic structures in Bell Buckle. The original sanctuary of the Baptist Church is also threatened, as is the Troxler House. We have tried to extend the downtown historic district into the residential historic areas, but met with only resistance. If we'd been able to extend the district, the Sain House would have been included in it.

-- Posted by ekauffmanhumphrey on Sun, Jul 15, 2012, at 1:31 AM

I PROPOSE BELL BUCKLE DE ANNEX ALL WEBB SCHOOL PROPERTY FROM THE CITY. WEBB SCHOOL IS NO LONGER A GOOD NEIGHBOR AND SHOULD BE EXILED HAVING NO MORE AFFILIATION TO THE TOWN, OR PERHAPS IT'S TIME FOR WEBB TO MOVE ON DOWN THE ROAD.

-- Posted by BellBuckleKid on Sat, Jul 14, 2012, at 8:52 PM

I understand why it might not have been able to be a student dorm, but reception center, offices, housing for an assistant headmaster or visiting alumni, ....??

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 7:57 PM

At least now we know who knew.

-- Posted by notapoliticalfan on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 1:23 PM

I didn't know anything about it until it was down.

I would hope nothing will be built on the lot.

They needed to move down a little and take out that ugly/brick/concrete "Thing" at Webb and

Abernathy Street out...

-- Posted by roadrunner on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 12:17 PM

I am curious about Webb's plans for other historic structures. Do they have a plan or hope to buy other homes, (the Morgan house) adjacent to campus? What about The old library and the Son Will Building? The business manager was interested in tearing down the old Library and Son Will building at one point in the late 1990's and 2000's. I can understand from a business manager's stand point how old buildings would not seem to be worth the money however I believe history is important to Webb and to Bell Buckle.

-- Posted by Kimi on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 9:57 AM

Sad, just sad. I expected more from Webb.

-- Posted by neighborhood mom on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 8:30 AM

You can see in the picture that they had placed an historical marker. If the house meant so little now, I wonder if they will remove that as well?

We have a half-acre lot in downtown that we would have considered moving it to, but I don't think that was ever an option.

-- Posted by stevemills on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 6:22 AM

I am surprised someone did not work toward making this house a historical landmark or something so that way it could have be saved . . . usually Bell Buckle makes it a point and try and keep things like this intact but I gues they are too busy fighting off lawsuits from water customers.

-- Posted by jaxspike on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 10:11 PM

I find it difficult to express the hurtful loss I feel for this wonderful 100 year old home. It was so steeped in history to Webb School and the town of Bell Buckle. It was built by the Crouch family. Mr. Crouch was a personal friend of Sawney and taught at the school.

The home was the first in the town to have hot running water. It housed a tank under the back portion of the house. It had sleeping porches on the second floor level. The dining area had oak pocket doors that were still very usable. I could go on but WHY...it is gone, nothing more than a pile of rubble!

I will miss you lovely old friend!

-- Posted by notapoliticalfan on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 1:33 PM

I'm awaiting The Webb School's statement about their plans for the plot. I may not receive the statement until tomorrow, though. I will try to get the story in by press time tomorrow, but Sunday looks to be more likely.

-- Posted by mpetty on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 11:06 AM

It makes me sick to think that Webb School would tear my great aunt's (Virginia Sain) house down. What are they thinking? This was a very historical building, not just to the Walking Horse Industry, Betty Sain, and to Bell Buckle, but also to Webb School. The least that Webb School could have done would have been to move it to another location, although I think the location itself is historical. It was a wonderful old home that held a lot of fond memories for me and my family.

-- Posted by Teresa Wright Horne on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 9:57 AM

For some reason it seems like such a change of direction for Webb. Does anyone know what group made this decision and why?

I agree, I thought it would be a charming home to house guests, alumni and hold receptions. I understand they considered student housing but a fire suppression system was cost prohibitive, but still.......

-- Posted by stevemills on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 9:18 AM

I had hoped that they would use the house as a small reception hall or guest house . . . It's such a loss for the town.

-- Posted by bbbluebird on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 9:14 AM


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Steve Mills and his wife have one daughter and live on a farm outside of Bell Buckle. They previously owned two coffee/ice cream shops, currently operate an internet sales company and teach classes, but his primary job involves the paper industry worldwide. Hobbies and interests lie in gardening, photography, recorded music and of course, their pets.