Community

Overview

Kingston Springs is a charming rural river town of 2,751 residents, as per the 2010 Census. Several thousand additional residents live in the immediate unincorporated areas around the town. Kingston Springs is located within Cheatham County, which has a population of 39,117, in the region of middle Tennessee. Although Kingston Springs is a rural community, almost all of its residents use high speed internet through the local telecommunications providers, AT&T and Comcast.

The town is well-situated among other larger cities in the region; Nashville (twenty miles), Dickson (seventeen miles), and Brentwood (twenty one miles) are all within a thirty minute drive from Kingston Springs. Kingston Springs is easily accessible via Interstate 40 and State Route 70, both which run through the jurisdictional limits of the town.

River View From Challenge Trail
View looking east, of the Harpeth River from the Challenge Trail

Many residents of Kingston Springs can trace their lineage to the area. If you were to speak with them, you would hear tales of the old Kingston Springs hotel, rich and famous visitors to town, and personal connections to both Nashville and the local springs which made the area famous. Through this connection, most members of the community are especially invested and engaged in the future of the town.

Local Economy

Throughout much of fiscal year 2015, the national and state economies have begun to experience recovery from the Great Recession. While slow growth has been made over broad statistical categories, the local economy has not experienced these same pits and peaks. The town of Kingston Springs has experienced some economic slow-down since 2008. However, major rises in unemployment, a rise in business closures, or falling revenues (sales tax, gas tax, and real estate tax) have so far been avoided. Major regional economic development projects are handled at the State level by Tennessee Economic & Community Development, and locally by the Cheatham County Joint Economic and Community Development Board.

Kingston Springs enjoys a diverse local economy with employment found primarily through both white collar jobs in neighboring communities, and local arts and music culture. Of the major private employers near Kingston Springs, Vanderbilt University, St. Thomas Health Systems, and A.O. Smith, have all held a steady workforce for the past three years. Additionally, some employers have experienced hiring and wage increases within the past fiscal year.

Tourism is also a major economic driver in Kingston Springs. The town enjoys nearby canoe and zip-lining facilities, and has three hotel facilities. The area is noted for its ecological preservation, diversity of species, and natural beauty. Many of the residents of Kingston Springs have chosen to live in the community for its wooded and natural resources.

Additionally, Kingston Springs has three major assets to tourism development; the Harpeth River, an historic downtown area, and close proximity to Interstate 40 and downtown Nashville. Each of these assets make our community a more attractive place for tourism and potential growth.

History

Archaelogy research indicates that Indigenous American people migrated to the area that is Kingston Springs about 12,000 years ago and settled near the banks of the Harpeth River and Turnbull Creek. The Native Americans were likely attracted to the location due to the excellent game hunting and various sulfur springs. They helped shape the Cheatham County landscape by burying their dead in stonebox graves and created mounds that still exist today.

Lewis Dunn was the earliest known white settler of Kingston Springs. He received a land grant for his service during the Revolutionary War and in 1807, settled with his family near the Harpeth River.

Saw Mill
One of the several local saw mills in the Kingston Springs area

A large hotel and tavern was constructed in 1819 near mineral springs to accommodate visitors seeking the healing qualities of Kingston Springs' white, black and red sulfur water. The springs served as the primary local attraction throughout the 1850s, and were advertised in the Nashville Union and American newspaper in 1855.

 

In 1860, the Nashville & NW Railroad was extended from Nashville to Kingston Springs and further expanded west from Kingston Springs to Waverly in 1862. The railroad brought substantial growth to the community, carrying timber, the area's primary cash crop, from lumber mills to Nashville. At one time, a local lumber mill comprised up to five acres of land in Kingston Springs. The town was also a stop on "The Accommodation" commuter train starting in 1880, bringing a multitude of visitors.

During the postwar period and the turn of the century, major changes occurred in Kingston Springs. A local branch of the United States Post Office opened in 1865, followed by two general stores in 1866. The Vanderbilt Preparatory School opened its doors in the early 1900's and became the first private educational facility in the community. A public elementary school soon followed, opening in 1915. Thanks in large part to the automobile, Kingston Springs experienced substantial population growth at the turn of the century. The town transformed from a resort destination to a residential community.

Chief Ed Bruce and the town's first fire engine
Chief Ed Bruce and the town's first fire engine

The 'Town of Kingston Springs' was formally incorporated in 1965 with a population of 290. W. R. Mayes served as the first Mayor from 1966 to 1974 and John Sweaney served as the first City Manager, also from 1966 to 1974. Since that time, Kingston Springs has developed and grown services. In August 1974, the National Life and Accident Insurance Company donated 30 acres of land along the Harpeth River to serve as the community's first park. Municipal sewer service was added in 1984 and has expanded to account for nearly three quarters of businesses and residences inside the jurisdictional limits today.

 

Community fire protection services had originally been provided by the Kingston Springs Volunteer Fire Department, which was founded in 1959. Originally organized in response to a hotel fire that was extinguished with hand-carried buckets of water, the fire department officially became a town department in 1978. Ray Crouch served as the first official fire chief from 1974 to 1984. In 1984, KSVFD became the first volunteer department in the state of Tennessee to receive an ISO rating of 5. More recently, the department's ISO rating was further upgraded in 2003 to a 4. The department offers first rate fire, medical, and emergency protection to the community and is a source of local pride.

Flood of May, 2010
Flood of May, 2010

Despite a devastating 1,000 year flood event which occurred in May 2010, Kingston Springs has recently experienced broad-based growth and investment. The town has both over 2,000 residents and several businesses inside the jurisdictional limits. It also has the area's largest residential subdivision just outside its limits. Nearby Metropolitan Nashville has had such explosive growth recently, many residents and visitors are refreshed by the relative small-town feel and scenic beauty of the area. 11,000 people reside within 5 miles of Kingston Springs and nearly all of them frequent town roads, schools, and businesses daily.

City Commissioners have honed in on local investment in recent years and have strived to repave approximately one mile of local roads annually since 1999. In 2009, the City Commission voted to finance major sewer, sidewalk, street lighting, and parking improvements in the downtown district. This investment has been matched with local private investment in the downtown area, including; the construction of new buildings, the opening of new businesses, and the dedication of a branch of the Cheatham County Public Library.

Cultural & Recreational Highlights

Downtown Kingston Springs has an incredible number of cultural and recreational amenities. Due to its close proximity to both Nashville and the Harpeth River, the area is frequented by weekend canoers, fishermen, and other outdoor recreational enthusiasts. Kingston Springs has a variety of additional cultural and recreational offerings however, both within and outside the downtown area.

Within the Downtown Area

Kingston Springs has a small and historic downtown area which runs along North Main Street and ends at a pair of CSX railroad tracks. The downtown area has a historic zoning overlay, but is not a national historical registered district. Uses found along and adjacent to the historic district include professional/office, general commercial, retail, non-profit/religious, multi-family residential, and single-family residential.

Stump Carving by local Craftsman, Lundy Cupp
Stump Carving by local Craftsman, Lundy Cupp

Since 2000, the town has focused on developing its historic downtown. It adopted historic downtown specific language to its Design Guidelines Manual in 2003, and fine tuned language in its zonnig ordinance to preserve the feel of the area. In 2009, the Town debt financed a major capital project in the downtown area. The project allowed for a new sewer main to be installed running the length of the downtown, a repaving of North Main Street, a new parking surface lot was constructed, pavement markings were added throughout the downtown, and new street lighting was installed. As part of the FY16 budget, the town will be adding a 'history of Kingston Springs' walking trail with stops in and around the downtown. The project is aimed at commemorating local history during the 50th anniversary of the Town's incorporation, spreading civic awareness and pride, and increasing the heritage tourism offerings for visitors.

Downtown Kingston Springs has a thriving arts scene. After the downtown was reconstructed in 2009 a local artist volunteered to create public art by carving into a large tree stump. The 'old man' as it is affectionately been referred to by locals is a must see for any visitor to the area. Additionally, downtown Kingston Springs is an excellent place to listen to some of the plentiful local music talent. Venues such as the 'Fillin' Station' , 'Skyking Pizza' , and 'Corner Pub' frequently feature local country, folk, and bluegrass artists weekly.

Near the Downtown Area

A number of other attractions lie just outside of the downtown area which enhance the Kingston Springs experience.

One such attraction is the Golf Club of Tennessee. The Golf Club is an exclusive private club which was founded in 1991 and has been celebrated for its secluded location and challenging layout. 'Golf Digest' recognized the course as runner-up for the Best New Private Course in America in 1991. In 2006, the publication ranked the course as one of America's 50 Greatest Golf Retreats. The Golf Club of Tennessee has hosted numerous local, state, national amateur and pro-am events, while always providing enjoyable rounds of golf for members and their guests. The course is home to many annual national tournaments such as the Vinny Pro-Celebrity-Am and The Dick's Sporting Goods Collegiate Challenge Cup. Recently, it was named as the host site for the 2018 U.S. Women's Amateur.

The downtown is only within a few miles drive of two scenic and historic sites; Harpeth River State Park and Mound Bottom area. Narrows of the Harpeth includes an incised meander and an associated national historic landmark, the Montgomery Bell Tunnel. The tunnel is a man-made water feature from 1818 which directed water for a historic iron manufacturing operation known as Pattison Forge. Mound Bottom State Park features the remnants of a Native American ceremonial meeting place dating from around 950 AD. Over time, the site developed as a fortified city with a population numbering in the thousands and diminished around the year 1300 AD. The site is closed to the public, but guided tours are given through the Tennessee State Parks Department.

L.L. Burns Park Splash Pad
L.L. Burns Park Splash Pad

Another area attraction, L.L. Burns Park, is located within walking distance of the downtown area. The municipal park was donated by Col. William J. Burns to the Town of Kingston Springs in 1998 and has since undergone a million dollar renovation. The park is framed by the beautiful Harpeth River and features athletic fields, playgrounds, miles of paved and unpaved trails, a nine-hole disc golf course, a fishing pond, and a splash pad. Additionally, an activity center and pavilions and can be rented from the town. The park is the site of several annual community events, including the Art in the Park festival. Art in the Park is an all-day free event which showcases more than one hundred local arts and artisans vendors. The event is held on the first Saturday of October.