By CLIFF HIGHTOWER
The Tennessee Children’s Home is testing the market and putting Ferguson Hall up for sale alone.
The two-acre property with the historic mansion is priced at $2 million after being included for sale in a package of the Tennessee Children’s Home campus for the past six years, officials said.
“We just separated it out,” said Brian King, president of the Tennessee Children’s Home. “The developers were acting like it wasn’t an asset.”
Ferguson Hall is on the National Register of Historic Places. The home was built in 1853 and served as the headquarters of Confederate Gen. Earl Van Dorn. The general was shot and killed in the home in 1863 after being accused by a local physician and politician of cheating with the man’s wife.
The hall has been used in the past as a military academy, housing for the children’s home and housing for presidents of the children’s home.
It is now primarily used as an events venue, hosting Christmas events and weddings, King said.
The location has long been part of a master plan that has been presented to the city as a downtown development option. The Tennessee Children’s Campus in entirety is more than 100 acres and the total asking price, including Ferguson Hall, is $16 million.
But, King said the Tennessee Children’s Home needs money and developers have shied away from wanting to develop it because of its historical nature.
“We just have to raise some money,” said David Jent, the Realtor representing the property.
Jent also served on the Board of Trustees for the Tennessee Children’s Home. He said he recently stepped down from the position, so it would not be a conflict of interest.
The home is listed as having four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths.
“It’s in reasonably good condition,” he said.
Jent said any potential buyers could use the property “for whatever they want it.”
“We’re open to anything and everything,” he said.
City records show the property is zoned as a neighborhood shopping district.
King said that should not prevent anyone from being able to use it as a residence, if they so choose.
“It allows for residents too,” he said.
The Tennessee Children’s Home needs the money because they have incurred debt over the past several years, King said. First, the home bought property on Beechcroft Road to build a new campus in 2010 and then last year the Tennessee Children’s Home spent $3.5 million to expand into Knoxville.
King said because of finances the Children’s Home cannot move out of its current location until the property is sold. The home does not have the finances to construct a new campus.
The Children’s Home has had a few developers look at the possibility of turning it into a downtown district for the city, but no one has pulled the trigger on those plans.
King said the Children’s Home leaders want to maintain the historical significance of Ferguson Hall, and he said he wished the city would buy it. But there has been no interest at this point.
“Having a Civil War museum and visitor’s center would be great,” he said.
At this time, the Children’s Home is just going to try to sell Ferguson Hall separately and hope that the current property will be more attractive to future potential developers.
“It’s just one less headache for them,” he said.
Cliff Hightower can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @CliffHightower.