The Rocky Mount State Historic Site in Piney Flats, Tennessee, is expanding with the recent purchase of 15 additional acres.
On Thursday, Rocky Mount’s executive director, Cody Boring, said the historic site purchased the land for $365,000 from the Bachman family. The Rocky Mount Historical Association, which manages the site, has a commitment to the heritage and the legacy of the original capitol of the Southwest Territory of 1790-1792, Boring said. That commitment led the association to acquire the property, which Boring said is “historic Tennessee farmland that will provide a buffer for one of the region’s prized assets.”
A major benefit of the property acquisition is that it has an “impressive history,” Boring said, making it a logical extension of the Rocky Mount footprint.
The state, which owns the Rocky Mount property, originally purchased land at the corner of U.S. Highway 11E and Hyder Hill Road back in the mid-1960s to preserve the site. Historians say the capitol of the Southwest Territory was at Rocky Mount at the Cobb house. Prior to the recent purchase, Rocky Mount consisted of about 35 acres.
The recent purchase adds land across Hyder Hill Road from the Cobb house and the original Rocky Mount site. According to the Tennessee Century Farms program, the land is part of Tennessee’s oldest documented farm, which was established in 1775. The property includes an early 1900s red tobacco barn, an artesian spring and a pond filled with a multitude of diverse biological species, according to a news release from Rocky Mount. Research conducted by the association shows the property was originally connected to the Cobb and Masengill family and could possibly predate 1775.
Boring said the land lies on the opposite side of Hyder Hill Road from the historic structures, which were facing increasing pressure from encroaching residential development. The association has been working to purchase the land for years, he said.
Previously, the state purchased land at the corner of Hyder Hill Road and Austin Springs Road. The purchase means the state owns the entire length from U.S. Highway 11E to Austin Springs Road.
“This is a significant moment for Rocky Mount,” Boring said. “We understand that commercial and residential development are a part of a growing community, but we strongly believe in the importance of preserving our history and ensuring it is never forgotten. We are proud to have taken this important step to ensure today’s visitors and future generations will continue to experience the special ambiance of our treasured historic site.”
Before the purchase from the Bachman family, it was owned by the late Sally Masengill, who previously served on the Rocky Mount board. Boring expressed appreciation to the Bachmans for working with Rocky Mount.
Boring said the association raised funds to purchase the land by conducting a capital campaign with its current and prior board members, collecting enough pledges to go toward the expansion.
A board committee is now compiling a strategic plan for the best use of the new land, Boring said. The 15 acres will not only help Rocky Mount preserve the historic homestead and its natural habitats, but also enable the organization to build longtime relationships and partnerships. Boring said they plan to develop educational and nature programs.
Rocky Mount will require additional funds and resources to maintain the land. Restoring the old barn is one of the association’s first priorities, and the association is asking for the community’s help.
“Residents and businesses in our region have a wonderful opportunity to participate in this initiative to help keep history alive by making a donation,” Boring said. “Every dollar contributed to this cause will represent an investment in a site that played a vital role in our region’s history even before the state of Tennessee was formed.”
The association is accepting donations at www.rockymountmuseum.com.
Boring said the association will continue to update the public on its plans for the additional acreage. Leading up to Thursday’s announcement, Boring and Rocky Mount have been teasing the public about the news. They plan to continue to do so on their social medial platforms.
Rocky Mount is a living history site representing life on the frontier in the late 1700s, when William Cobb and his family lived in Piney Flats. During that time, historians say William Blount, the governor of the Southwest Territory, visited the Cobbs and lived there for a short time.
Today, costumed interpreters take visitors through the historic Cobb house and outbuildings and give visitors a personal look at living in the Southwest Territory, during the pre-Tennessee era.