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Posted 12/29/2022 in Tims Ford Lake Highlights

Hundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TN Piece of History


Hundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TN Piece of History

What is the Hundred Oaks Castle?  



If you're in or by Winchester TN and you hear about the Hundred Oaks Castle -- what?  We have a castle in Winchester?


Yes, Virginia, we have a castle in Winchester TN.  


There are loads of Winchester TN things to do and Tims Ford Lake Things To Do . Hundred Oaks is one of our Winchester gems.


Hundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TNHundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TN


What is the History of the Hundred Oaks Castle?


The Hundred Oaks Castle was built by Benjamin Decherd originally as a two story plantation farm house around 1830. Benjamin Decherd was a railroad tycoon at the time and for what the city of Decherd was named. The property was purchased in the 1860's by Albert Marks, the 21st governor of Tennessee and a relative to Thomas Jefferson. 


How Did The Hundred Oaks Castle Receive its Name?


The rumor on how the Castle received its name was that Albert's son Arthur counted the oak trees on the plantation land and came to a total of 100.  And the name Hundred Oaks was born.


Arthur Marks got older and became a US diplomat.  His travels took him to Scotland where he fell in love with the architecture of castles -- he got married to his sweetheart from Nashville around that time as well.  When he returned to the States in 1889 (and to his childhood home) he began to renovate it with the focus of it being a castle.  The Hundred Oaks Castle was its new name.  Arthur unfortunately passed soon after in 1892 due to Typhoid Fever at the age of 28 just a year after his father passed.


From the website, historic-structures.com, re: Hundred Oaks Castle

"The bricks were pressed from local clay at the site. The stone for the foundations of the additions was hauled from Sewanee Mountain. The three story structure measures more than one hundred feet long, the tower more than five stories tall. A wood carver from Winchester did all the paneling and woodwork. The floors are all hardwood and the dining room has oak paneled walls and oak beams and panels in the ceiling. The ballroom is two and one-half stories high and forty-four feet long. On the south side of house a small replica of a castle served as a wine cellar. It was covered with ivy taken from Kenilworth Castle. The ivy covering the house was imported from Abbotsford, and the vineyards were imported from Southern France. The house combined towers and huge windows in the landscape vista tradition of the 19th Century."


Though the castle was not complete at that point, one of Arthur's relatives, John Marks Handly, had become a Paulist Priest (an order of Catholic Priests).  They purchased the building on/around 1901 and continued renovations. At that time the estate was 600 acres, but all of the property was sold off outside of 26 acres.


Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TN1900 - Hundred Oaks Castle News Article - 10 May 1900 Catholic Telegraph


 The ballroom was converted to a Chapel.


Hundred Oaks Castle ChapelHundred Oaks Castle Chapel


Since then the Hundred Oaks Castle had operated under Paulist Fathers from 1901 - 1954 and managed Catholic mission work from this location. 


 In 1954, the Hundred Oaks Castle was purchased from the Paulist Fathers by Earl M Shahan Jr a contractor from Tullahoma who had plans to subdivide the 26 acres though did not have plans at that point for the Castle.


Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TN1950 - Hundred Oaks Castle



Approximately 1956, Earl Shahan transferred ownership of the Castle to M.T. Gossett.  


Different events were held in the following years at the Castle including Halloween Parties and Church Services (in the chapel).  At some point between 1956 and 1964, Wilson O. Bradshaw became the owner of all of the land and Castle.



Halloween event at Hundred Oaks CastleHalloween event at Hundred Oaks Castle 1959

 

Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TN a Country Club?


In approximately 1963, the Hundred Oaks Castle became a membership club or maybe country club?  


Hundred Oaks Castle - Winchester TNAdvertisement:  Hundred Oaks Castle  Winchester TN


Though apparently didn't do very well... see next photo.


Shortly after trying to build up the membership club the decision was to go a different direction.  In April 1964, both the residential plots and the castle were to be auctioned off.


Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TNHundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TN


In 1975, Winchester car dealership owner, Winton "Doug" Douglas traded his house for the Hundred Oaks Castle also in Winchester TN.  He converted it into a combination museum, restaurant and antique gallery.  He charged people one dollar for admission which helped him pay for the utility bills cost almost $1000 a month.  


Hundred Oaks Castle in Winchester TNHundred Oaks Purchased by Auto Dealer -- 1975 Kingsport Times


 It eventually  became owned and managed by the Franklin County Adult Activity Center. The Adult Activity Center also managed a restaurant on premises run by disabled adults.


 In 1990, unfortunately a fire damaged quite a bit of the Hundred Oaks Castle. The Activity Center then looked for a non-profit to take it over and manage it ongoing (like what occurs often with European Castles).  



Hundred Oaks Castle Fire - Winchester TNHundred Oaks Castle Fire 1990


In 1996, it became owned and operated by the Kent Bramlett Foundation which is named by the parents of Kent Bramlett who passed in an auto accident in 1992. Much of the castle has since been renovated. Kent's family operates the foundation today.


Can you Visit The Hundred Oaks Castle?


Unfortunately after the pandemic visiting Hundred Oaks Castle is temporarily closed.  



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Other Historical Articles In The Area:

  1. Jack Daniels Distillery: The Legacy of An American Icon
  2. The Sunken History of Awalt: A Town Beneath Tims Ford Lake
  3. Winchester TN History



References:

  1. 9 Feb 1955: Nashville Banner: Shahan buys Hundred Oaks
  2. 15 March 1956: Nashville Banner P12, Shahan transferred the Castle to Gossett
  3. 1958:  26 Oct 1958:  "Spooks in the Castle" Tennessean, Page 89
  4. 1964:  24 April 1964 Rutherford Courier," PTA to be represented at State Convention" P6  "new owner is Wilson O Bradshaw.
  5. 7 Nov 1975:  Kingsport Times, 7 Nov 1975, p5, "Car Dealer's First Love" -- Douglas Winston buys castle in May
  6. http://hundredoakscastle.com/history
  7. "Hundred Oaks Castle Fire Not Arson", Tennessean, 25 May 1990, P15
  8. "Restoration of the Heart", Tennessean, 7 Oct 2001, p111
  9. Historic-Structures.com
  10. http://www.dupontcastle.com/castles/hundred.htm
  11. Winton Douglas Incorporation of Hundred Oaks Inc in Winchester:  https://tnbear.tn.gov/Ecommerce/FilingDetail.aspx?CN=022225247220131130117250086177196013162014047032






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