Tennessee Preservation Trust

Preservation Easement Program:

Preservation Easement Program

If you own a historic property you can preserve it in perpetuity and receive tax benefits through the donation of a preservation easement to the Tennessee Preservation Trust. A preservation easement allows an owner to continue to use their property as they wish but conserves the property’s historic character for future generations. Through the donation of a preservation easement an owner gives up certain development rights – rights which may be of financial benefit as part of an easement valuation. The easement program is designed to assist property owners in rural areas, small towns and medium sized cities across the state.

The TPT received its first preservation easement – and on one of the most significant structures in the state. The “Old Town Bridge” in Williamson County was constructed in 1801 by the U.S. Army as part of the building of the Natchez Trace. The Natchez Trace is one of America’s most historic roads and connected Nashville with Natchez in Mississippi. It provided the first overland route for settlers in the Cumberland and Ohio River Valleys to travel home after floating goods and produce down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. The Old Town Bridge was built to span Brown’s Creek near its confluence with the Harpeth River. The bridge originally consisted of two limestone abutments and a wooden deck for wagons, horses and those traveling on foot. Although the Natchez Trace fell into disuse by the late 19th century, the bridge served local farmers for several more decades. By the mid-20th century the wooden deck had deteriorated and the abutments suffered from erosion and neglect. The owner of the bridge donated the easement to the TPT as part of their restoration efforts. The Dry Stone Conservancy of Lexington, Kentucky was hired to rebuild the north bridge abutment this summer and plans are underway to rebuild the south abutment in 2015. The restoration and easement will ensure the long-term preservation of this unique resource in Tennessee.