- Your News
By BRIAN JUSTICE
After nearly 19 years of being owned by the Historic Preservation Society of Tullahoma and amidst hard financial times, the historic Harton House at 300 S. Jackson St. is back in the hands of its former owners.
Mark Schempp, a society member who was recently appointed to the city’s Historic Zoning Commission by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, said the Victorian style home had fallen on hard times in recent years, losing business tenants in a bad economy.
As a consequence, the society was unable to meet its financial obligations to pay taxes on the property and was forced to seek other options to ensure it would be preserved as one of the city’s most notable historic landmarks.
Schempp said the Harton family, which had donated the property to the society, agreed to buy it back for $60,000, with the society paying about $2,500 in closing costs.
He said a critical point with the transaction is that the Harton family agreed to preserve the building for at least 10 years.
“That was the main thing we wanted,” Schempp said, adding that historic preservation was the main reason the family donated the building to the society in the first place. “We could have auctioned it and probably received a lot more money for it, but that’s something we didn’t want to do.”
He said when the agreement was made, 10 years seemed like a reasonable figure to arrive at.
“It was a practical number,” Schempp said, adding that the Harton family’s intent through the years has always been to preserve the building.
He said property taxes and utility bills with limited income from tenants made it hard to keep the building. He added that the society has also been faced with costs to maintain it, such as painting the entire structure.
“The main thing is we wanted to preserve it and we were unable to do so,” Schempp said, referring to the society’s financial difficulty and what needed to be accomplished.
He said selling the property isn’t something the society wanted to do. “It was something we had to do.”
Schempp said proceeds from the sale will be used toward other historic preservation efforts in Tullahoma.