Welcome to the third segment in our Open Door series in which we highlight some of Maury County's most spectacular homes. With the James K. Polk Memorial Ball just around the corner, we thought it would be apropos to spotlight this year's location, Haynes Haven, to set the mood for the upcoming ball. Enjoy the photos and the intriguing history behind one of Maury County's most handsome and recognizable historic mansions, as told to us by one of its last residents, Mrs. Sisse Presnell Pfeiffer. So with that, let's open the door!
If you are anything like me, you have driven past Haynes Haven thinking if I could only see the inside and find out more about the big white Italianate-style home that sits across from Rippavilla Plantation on Hwy 31 (Old Nashville Highway).
That day has arrived, as we figuratively open the doors to the Spring Hill, Tenn. mansion and get a brief look at its history, some of which comes firsthand from former resident Mrs. Sisse Pressnell Pfeiffer. And, on September 24, nearly 500 attendees will tour Haynes Haven at the James K. Polk Memorial Ball.
Without further ado, let's examine a bit of the property's rich history. Haynes Haven is situated on the site of a home named “Woodland,” which was built just after the Civil War. In its heritage as Woodland, the Polks were its first occupants. In fact, it is said that Lucius Polk lived at Woodland during his bachelor years.
Unfortunately, Woodland burned down in 1937 in an accident that occurred during its restoration. Colonel Jack Haynes purchased the property in 1938 and salvaged many of the architectural pieces from Woodland, which were used in the construction of Haynes Haven, most prominently the front doors.
Col. Haynes was also the owner of Haynes Haven Stock Farms. He was particularly known for his prize-winning Tennessee Walking Horses, including the 1940 and 1941 Grand Champion Tennessee Walking Horse of the World, Haynes Peacock. The Tennessee native lived at Haynes Haven through the mid-1940s. However, that was not the end of Haynes Haven's history with Tennessee Walking horses, as told to us by Mrs. Pfeiffer who had the pleasure of growing up there.
Mrs. Pfeiffer spent most of her childhood and youth at Haynes Haven when her father Harry Pressnell and his brother Wayne bought the property in 1957. She recalls spending her first night at their huge new home. The next morning she asked her mother, "Why are we spending the night at this hotel?"
In spite of the size and (then) isolation of the property, Mrs. Pfeiffer had a lovely childhood, living there from second grade through high school. Some of her fondest memories are of the many parties her parents gave over the years, and getting to brush the manes and tails of the numerous Tennessee Walking horses that were boarded and trained on the property.
Eventually her father became taken with aviation and built a landing strip toward the south end of the house. She and her brothers were responsible for washing his Mooney airplane on a regular basis. Mr. Pressnell also built a pool on the property, which was the first in-ground pool in Maury County. Her mother, Mrs. Pfeiffer recalls fondly, had gorgeous flower gardens near the barn and taught her how to grow and care for flowers.
In 1970, Mrs. Pheiffer's senior year of high school, the Pressnells sold the property to Jesse Stallings who was the president of Capitol Airways. In the mid-1980s, General Motors (GM) purchased the farm when the automotive manufacturing giant made a large land acquisition to set up manufacturing for Saturn Corp. To date, the Maury County house and property are still owned and maintained by GM.
The barn that housed Haynes Peacock still stands on the GM site and has been restored as the company's Visitors Center, while the main house serves as an occasional meeting space for GM. Interestingly, a couple in Dallas admires Haynes Haven so much that they are having an expanded replica of it built as their “country home” in Texas.
With its fascinating history and elegant architecture, it is easy to understand why the James K. Polk Association chose Haynes Haven as the location for its 2016 Memorial Ball and "Simply Elegant" as its theme.
Click here to read the first article in our Open Door series, and here to read the home featured in our second installment.
Special thanks to TBEKTU Design + Development for sponsoring this series and to Mrs. Pfeiffer for giving us a firsthand account of living at Haynes Haven.