In 1993, Bennett and Diana Van Winkle bought the Bonny Meade Mansion. At that time, the historic mansion was still standing like a sentinel on the hill. However, in 1998, someone set fire to the mansion, and it burned for seven hours.
“It was like we had lost part of the family,” said Diana Van Winkle.
The brick walls stood for two or three years until they started to deteriorate and become a hazard to anyone walking near the structure. Eventually, the Van Winkles had the walls knocked down but left the brick and foundation, as well as the inside of the structure not destroyed by fire. Year after year, the historic bricks were cleaned of the old mortar and stacked until about 1,500 had accumulated. The original 1810 foundation still remained.
One day while looking at the remaining foundation, the Van Winkles got the idea to make the foundation a pavilion for people to use. Shortly after, the Van Winkles bought a poplar log home in Smith County near the Cumberland River and had it moved to the hill beside the soon-to-be pavilion. More than a year year later, they had the cottage finished and then they started work on the pavilion.
“This has been a labor of love for us. Saving and rebuilding the log home that was set to be burned in a day or two, [and turning it] into a quaint unique cottage for folks to visit and vacation in,” said Diana Van Winkle.
Though the original Bonny Meade Plantation home is gone, the original foundation with hand-chiseled stones made around 1810, still remains at the same location.
The Van Winkles used the original circa-1810 bricks to brick a portion of the log cottage in addition to making the brick columns for the pavilion.
“We know these bricks were made only a few hundred feet from the old historic mansion because we found the kiln and the soot field where they had fired them just below the hill of the mansion,” Diana Van Winkle said.
The Van Winkles also used the old historic bricks to make a walkway between the cottage and pavilion.
“The walkway is for brides to travel going from one life to another with the person they have chosen to live the rest of their lives with,” said Diana Van Winkle.
Small or large wedding, the pavilion that measures more than 3,000 square feet is perfect for any occasion. With a water fountain and plenty of room to dance, the Van Winkles invite everyone to see Bonny Meade for themselves.
For more information, contact the event coordinator at 615-450-3778.