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From the inside - Historical Preservation VS General Motors

Once in a lifetime an opportunity comes across the radar that will improve the quality of life you live....or, IMPROVE the quality of life you live. Such is the case for a small Tennessee town - Spring Hill.

In the 80's a new landmark popped up along U.S.Hwy 31 in between Spring Hill, TN and Columbia, TN. Now, if you don't know...I was the "first Saturn arrival" at good ole Spring Hill High School.


The first Yankee kid to show up whose parents will destroy our little town...

*translation complete*

Some people were happy with the arrival of the then "Saturn" plant, which made a switch to a General Motors facility a few years back. Then - on the other hand - there were the folks that just plain out didn't like it.

The Saturn plant is a sprawling facility of approx. 445,000 square feet. It is one of the newer facilities GM has on its hands, and when it was built not only was the plants efficiency taken to task, but also the impact on the environment.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan - I know how absolutely ugly a GM facility can be. They are gross...It just is what it is....Then - you see the Saturn facility....Or do you? While driving down U.S. HWY 31 you really don't realize the plant is there. Seriously!?! Those who designed the plant took great care in creating a beautiful scenery of rolling hills around the plant to maintain the history of the area, and even maintained farm land. In fact - Haynes Haven - Is what is described as an old plantation house and Tennessee Walking Horse stable converted into a Saturn Welcome Center??? REALLY???

Totally a true statement. In fact, the photo below? Is in the Haynes Haven home's Grand Parlor 9 years after Saturn acquired the historic home. It was intended to be a Bed and Breakfast for Saturn Executives according to our tour guide on this day our Senior Class Superlative photos were taken....

But prior to hosting my high school, and prior to Saturn - Haynes Haven had something else to boast about. In 1940 a gelding at the ripe age of 12, took home the title of "World Grand Champion" That's right - A Tennessee Walking Horse that took the show by storm - and helped catapult the show to stardom.

Here's an excerpt from the historic detail site

"Strange as it may be, the gelding that was to win the 1940 Celebration had not even been heard of by the show horse world until a few months before the show. Haynes Peacock, a beautiful red chestnut with no marking of any kind, came forward to capture the show and win the big stake for the late Col. J. L. Haynes, Haynes Haven Stock Farm of Spring Hill, Tennessee."

Another landmark Saturn acquired in 1985 along with Maury County - was The RippaVilla Plantation - The two entities formed a 501 (c) 3 to help maintain the historical significance of the site...*there is a hoof mark on the wood floor where a horse walked through the house*...The historical significance is solely planted in the Civil War Battle of Spring Hill in 1864. Confederate Soldiers used the home as...well, you will need to take the tour.

The point being here - is now, the Saturn Plant (as we all refer to it still) is in peril as GM falls to near death. The impact of losing this facility located 45 miles south of Nashville, TN is beyond imagination.

In the 80's Spring Hill had 2 stop lights. They have a few more now, but the basic precept is still there. A warm, friendly community filled with *Southern Charm* - a task mostly amazing considering half of the residents are actually from the north. Hence the reason I insert my sayin - *Born in the NORTH - Polished in the SOUTH* (copyrighted - thanks)

But as I was searching for a Tennessee manufacturer this afternoon, I came across the website for Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) which features his press released statement on his view of the *Saturn* facility.....

The fact the economy may force a community member of a small southern rural area that catapulted growth, preserved the past and promised a great future is almost sickening. And I know in the end all things happen for a reason, but there is NO reason that - in the world we live in at this moment - where green design, efficiency, preservation, and a sudden refocus on where we have been determines where we are going - Should this plant close.

It's strange...The excerpt above? States "Haynes Peacock, a beautiful red chestnut with no marking of any kind, came forward to capture the show and win the big stake" Is so ironic. Saturn came on the scene, won over the community and unlike the preservation Saturn Corp. was hailed for - If GM decides to close this plant - The "no marking of any kind" will not be keeping in sync with past notions that a caring company such as Saturn achieved. Instead, GM will destroy families. Ruin local economy. And let's hope this "move" doesn't put the historical sites in an uncertain world.

For more information on Historical Sites in Maury County, Tennessee Click HERE


Terry said...

I too, am really worried about this. I remember coming to Spring hill and there was Kirks and Luthers and that was about it. Going back now I am just amazed to see the difference. It is kind of sad in a way that the small town is gone but it is still there in so many ways.

I remember arriving in Spring Hill to letters in the paper of how we needed to go home. I could see the points of some of the people, however I wish they had went about it a little more nicely or at least not taken it out on the kids. That first year was hell, I wont lie but over the years I came to think of Spring Hill as home and I love your quote about it.

I've never before seen my dad "scared" but I saw that yesterday. Not only is he going to lose his insurance but possibly his pension. I've watched him work so hard all of his life just to lose it just like that and I know there are so many others that this will affect. Not just the retirees but the current workers and the people of Spring Hill.

Like I said it amazes me the differences in Spring Hill from 15 years ago but it terrifies me to see the differences a year from now.

Terry said...

That should say, "to think of the differences". I couldn't figure out how to edit lol

Jennifer N said...

Spring Hill is such a special place to me, as a transplant kid we moved to Culleoka in '89 but relocated to SH in '92. I knew some of the cards were stacked against us in the beginning, but it all seemed to work out. I made amazing friends there and loved them dearly. Everything about the town was home, and now the rug is being pulled out from underneath them. I don't want to see Spring Hill become the dried-up boom town that we're all scared it may be. It makes NO sense to me that one of the newest plants might close. It's a freakin' travesty in my book, and it's destroying the ending of a story my dad has been in the process of writing for over 32 years. I pray that our fears are not made reality!!

Shea said...

I remember walking into Spring Hill High....WHOA!! My friends from Michigan called daily and wanted to know what the south was like. There was a lot of negativity towards us all. That's the reason I think we are all so close. Our class went from 11 to 185 in 5 years. Transplants everywhere. Now, everyone could be transplants with no home, Historical sites in balance, and the amazing story of the first *visitor* to the Saturn plant all gone....The plant is like no other GM has. Nowhere else is a GM facility on/near a civil war battleground. Nowhere else would people bring their cars "home" to the plant it came from! Truly a special chapter in GM history. Hopefully one they will want to continue....

Jennifer Newell (JenNewell@gmail.com) said...

Upon further reflection of this tragic situation, I would be remissed as a lover of history if I did not take the opportunity to address the poignant historical significance we may be failing to recognize. As it has been stated, the Saturn plant was situated in the midst of a Civil War battle field, true followers of Civil War history know that the battle of Franklin was actually lost in Spring Hill. Union soldiers were allowed to slip across the lines unnoticed as Confederate soldiers slept through the night. That failure clearly resulted in one of the bloodiest skirmishes in Tennessee's history. If in fact history truly repeats itself, then the irony of the GM debacle can be seen in a whole new light. The battle for the life of Spring Hill and the health of its' surrounding communities is now being played out in the theatres of our backyards and bank accounts. As the old adage is most likely true, there are no written rules that dictate we must allow the same outcome. I for one, am not asleep! The invading "Northern force" is not slipping by unnoticed. The livelihood and well-being of multiple thousands have been put on the chopping block with little regard. The reconstruction era was not kind the first time around, and I can scarcely fathom how it would be much kinder today. Tennesseans by birth and situation should make their outrage known. Demand that the Saturn plant remain viable; the original success was the combination of authentic American ingenuity, respect for employees, and respect of the local citizens and land. If this plant fades into a distant memory, then a whole region could face ruin as did Franklin in 1864. Wake up!!

Anonymous said...

Exceptional post! I especially enjoyed the Senior pics..... lol

Zoey said...

Exceptional comment by jessewatson. Exceptional picture ~ to illustrate what things "used" to be. And really, thanks for baring your soul and sharing this moment in time with the members of your fan club. Posse, out!

David said...

I know Her :)

yay... I feel so cool!

Dpeppypappy@aol.com said...

My heart truly goes out to all that will be affected by closing this plant. It seem's our government is hell bent on putting a greater divide between the rich and poor in this great country we call home.Throughout history it has been proven that once the government get's involved in anything it always seem's to fail.The one thing I can think of is to promote buying american made product's,and pressure your congressman to level the playing field when it come's to import's.Until that happen's I am afraid it will only get worse.My thought's and prayer's go out to everyone that may be affected, Tim Dickenson.

Lisa R said...

When GM decided to change the *Saturn* plant to a regular GM plant, they had all the maintenance guys go in and rip out all the *Saturn* equipment and replace it with GM equipment. My dad said they threw away millions of dollars worth of materials and machines! Why fix something that is not broken! So in reality, the inside of that place is brand new!! Why spend all that money on this remodeling and then shut it down??? I pray every night that this does not happen and my dad will still have a job this time next year. He is over 60, so the chances of him finding something else are slim to non. He will laid off for five weeks after only working a few weeks after a four week lay off. SUCKS!

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