Over the last 75 years, Old Town has changed hands, passing between six different families – all of whom have celebrated in its storied past and continued its traditions of bringing people together in nature.  Henry and Virginia Goodpasture, who owned the property for 30 years from 1948 – 1978, described their life at Old Town as a “happy and joyous affair” that was “a mecca for our friends who came from every direction.”  Henry explained in his memoir that the property was rich with “fruit trees, flowers and two or three hundred boxwoods”; they kept horses and cattle, farmed the land (his memoir discusses their alfalfa field), picked wild blackberries and “watched the herons, egrets and other birds which followed the Big Harpeth River that flowed past our front gate.”  The Goodpastures added the swimming pool to the property that was greatly enjoyed by their friends. [8]

In the late 1980s, Old Town was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, with the 1801 Old Town Bridge and Thomas Brown House added in 1988, and the 41-acre pre-historic archaeological site including the temple mounds added in 1989.  

Previous owners of the property, including musician Jimmy Buffett (1991-1995), and later, singer Kim Carnes (1995-1999), took measures not to impact the site in ways that might be destructive. The Bill and Maureen Cromling family, owners from 1999 – 2015, split their time between Ohio and Old Town and were passionate about preserving the property.  They brought in the Dry Stone Conservancy to restore the dry-stacked bulwarks of the historic 1801 Old Town bridge over Brown Creek.  And in an effort to prevent disruptive changes to the Natchez Trace by the county Highway Department, they used state-of-the-art ultrasound technology to identify more than 220 ancient stone box burial sites in sampled areas around the mounds and road bed. [9]

Since 2015 the Frists, working with MTSU, have taken giant steps toward preserving the site in perpetuity through the Old Town Heritage Project.  They have also established the Historic Daffodil Project to continue the living legacy left by Virginia Goodpasture, who in the 1940s lined the roadside with daffodils – a harbinger of hope and spring for travelers along the Trace. [10] In addition, the Frists have historically preserved the 1846 main home and have refurbished the barns, smokehouse and outbuildings including the old milk parlor.

Vibrantly alive today with people and animals, Old Town is a working farm that continues the long tradition of welcoming others to gather and share in its rolling pastures along the paths of the Old Natchez Trace and the banks of the “Big Harpeth River.”

Historic photo of Old Town which appeared in a 1976 calendar, provided by Williamson County historian Rick Warwick. 
Cultural Context of the Modern Era [11]
Modern Era (1941–Current)

After 1940, residential growth in Williamson County and the Franklin area followed the national trend of subdivisions and tract housing outside urban boundaries. Growth centered along highways and Interstate 65, which opened in the 1960s between Nashville and Birmingham, Alabama. By the late twentieth century, the county had evolved into an upscale suburb of Nashville, one of the wealthiest and fastest growing counties in the country. Between 1990 and 2000, the population of Williamson County grew 56.3 percent, to 126,638. In 2010, Williamson County’s population was 183,182 and was expected to surpass 231,729 by 2018. The county is included in the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in 2010 contained 1,617,142 people (U.S. Census Bureau 2010).

Sources:

8.  Goodpasture, Henry.  Memoirs of Henry Goodpasture. Self-Published, 1979, pp. 53, 63, 68, 73-75. 

9. Turner, Laura. “Letter to the Editor: Cromling leaves a wonderful legacy as matriarch of Old Town.” Williamson Herald, 18 July 2019. 

10. Turner, Laura. “Historic Williamson County in Bloom.” Williamson Herald, 3 March 2018. 

11. Geophysical Survey of Old Town Archaeological Site (40WM2) Williamson County, Tennessee by New South Associates, Inc., Sarah Lowry (Principal Investigator), September 20, 2019.