The Cherokee, Chickasaw, and Shawnee hunted on this land known as Spring Hill. The soil, rich with the decay of prehistoric vegetation, was a natural attraction to wildlife and Native Americans. Settlers coming with land grants for western expansion valued the beauty and fertility of the rolling hills and natural springs. Early settlers venturing out into the west had a strong faith in the land and the future community. Soon, the community was complete with churches, schools, doctors, lawyers, blacksmiths, and merchants.
Beautiful mansions, estates, churches, and plantations created a new landscape. Some of these structures are still standing and reflect the pride of the early people who were the Spring Hill community. Spring Hill, with the advent of the railroad, was an early link to Nashville and its cultural institutions.
In 1861, there came the threat of the Civil War. The people of Spring Hill struggled through the occupation of both Union and Confederate troops. The townspeople grew stronger and closer to each other and formed a bond that was difficult for newcomers to understand. The occupation and battle of Spring Hill was a prelude to the famous battle of Franklin.
After the war, even though almost destroyed by tornadoes and fire, the town grew. Spring Hill was known nationally for the breeding of livestock, its rich pastures, agriculture and for its dedication to quality education.
In 1980, industry turned the primarily agricultural town to one of manufacturing with the impact of the General Motors, Saturn Plant.New people, in great numbers, changed the small town into a city. The people whose families lived here for generations were troubled with the residents.However, the energy and vitality of these newcomers allowed the town to move forward in the arts, business, and education. The Saturn Plant became an anchor to Spring Hill’s economy.
Location & Demographics
Spring Hill covers approximately 17 square miles and is located 35 miles south of Nashville, TN. The city is situated within two counties, Maury and Williamson, and is part of the greater Cumberland Region that includes Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Maury, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, and Wilson counties.
Spring Hill’s population grew to 29,036 in 2010, an increase of 276% between 2000 and 2010. Likewise, Spring Hill is projected to grow by another 78% from 2010 to 2030. While growth presents great challenges for Spring Hill, it also generates new opportunities for economic expansion, community development, and quality of life improvements for current and future residents.
The Battle of Spring Hill - November 29, 1864
Spring Hill was the prelude to the Battle of Franklin. On the night of November 28, 1864, General John Bell Hood’s Army of Tennessee marched toward Spring Hill to get astride Major General John M. Schofield’s Union army’s life line. Cavalry skirmishing between Brigadier General James H. Wilson’s Union cavalry and Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Confederate troopers continued throughout the day as the Confederates advanced.
November 29, Hood’s infantry crossed Duck River and converged on Spring Hill. In the meantime, Major General Schofield reinforced the troops, holding the crossroads at Spring Hill. In late afternoon, the Federals repulsed a piecemeal Confederate infantry attack. During the night, the rest of Schofield’s command passed from Columbia through Spring Hill to Franklin. This was, perhaps, Hood’s best chance to isolate and defeat the Union army. The engagement has been described as “one of the most controversial non-fighting events of the entire war."
Battle of Spring Hill Map
View Battle of Spring Hill in a larger map
In May 2017, the City of Spring Hill accepted the donation of Rippavilla Plantation and its related operational responsibilities, allowing for the permanent preservation of the historic home, 98.4 acres of passive park space, and all of its related buildings.
Rippavilla has a rich history since its construction in the 1850s. Before the U.S. Civil War, the plantation served as residence for the Cheairs family. Rippavilla played a major role during the Civil War era, especially in the Battle of Spring Hill. Generals and their armies from both sides used Rippavilla as headquarters on multiple occasions. After the war, the property was sold numerous times until Maury County Industrial Board purchased the estate in 1985. After the purchase, the property was leased to Saturn Corporation.
The property, which sits on the Maury County side of Spring Hill, includes, a two-story brick antebellum-style plantation home, carriage house, an original slave cabin, a freedmen bureau’s school house, historic Cheairs Cemetery, Brown’s Stand, the Ikard Center, Rayburn Amphitheater, and several barns and other structures supporting the agricultural use of the property.
Rippavilla’s current activities include tours to travelers, school groups, civil groups, bus tours; weddings; along with hosting living histories and reenactments. The site also operates a gift shop in the 1914 carriage house serving as the office for the site rental coordinator to meet with potential renters as they tour the facility prior to renting the venue. The home includes a fully functioning catering kitchen. Rippavilla also leases remaining acreage to a local farmer for crop production, as well as allowing local Scouting and civic groups to meet in the Ikard Center.
The acquisition of Rippavilla fits neatly into the City’s “Spring Hill Rising: 2040 Comprehensive Plan,” which calls for the preservation of natural areas, creating the highest and best use of significant historic properties, preserving the area’s rural character, and preservation of cultural history ensuring future generations can enjoy our area’s natural and cultural legacies.
Planning for the acquisition started in June 2016 when Mayor Rick Graham formed a Rippavilla Due Diligence Panel tasked with fully exploring the option of the donation of Rippavilla to the City for the permanent preservation and operation of the historic site. The panel reported its findings after six months of work, and the Spring Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted in January 2017 to pursue the operational agreement.