The stone has been thrown in the direction of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, an 8-foot tall monument named “Our Ebenezer.”
Building and Grounds Committee members met Tuesday to discuss an offer by McMinnville Heritage Preservation to transfer the deed to the site of the original town springs, a water source and the reason why the city was built here.
The organization spent approximately $40,000 and numerous hours of volunteer labor cleaning the overgrown brush, removing trash, constructing an area for the monument, building a rock garden it called Emmanuel’s Garden and placing the stone it called Our Ebenezer to mark the spot that prompted settlers to locate here and establish the city of McMinnville.
Committee chair Steve Harvey toured the area and expressed amazement.
“I don’t know who has been down there to look at it,” said Harvey. “If you haven’t been down there to see it, I suggest that you do just to see the improvement that has been made from the trashy place that it once was into what it is now. It looks great.”
The goal of McMinnville Heritage Preservation was to preserve history. MTSU conducted a study of the site in 2013 and its findings revealed the town springs were the primary source of water for the city from 1810 to 1884. The city was founded in 1810.
While the water source was extremely important to settlers 200 years ago, it was being used as a trash dump site. Group members set about cleaning, restoring and preserving the area. They are now asking the city to accept the deed and not allow the area to fall back into its previous shabbiness.
“I think this would be a very nice asset for the city,” said Harvey. “Not only for historical and heritage reasons, but also recreational purposes. It has been suggested it could possibly be, along with the city cemetery, incorporated into the Barren Fork River Greenway. If we can’t get complete river access from Pepper Branch Park to Hobbs Park, it would be a nice detour from the river walkway and then somehow get you back over to Hobbs Park to the rest of it.”
Alderman Ben Newman voiced his belief the city should adopt the area for its historical significance.
“I think the historical significance is really interesting,” said Newman. “A lot of times, cities are built around rivers or because there was a mountain pass that’s near it. We’re here because of this spring. That’s our origins. I think it’s a good idea to take care of it.”
Harvey, Newman and Alderman Ryle Chastain voted unanimously to send the donation of the property’s deed to the full board for its consideration. If the property is accepted, it will be placed under the care of the city.