Search This Blog


Important Information from the TN Preservation Trust!

Dear Supporters,

Please view the attached photo of the 1837 Neil Mansion in Trenton, TN. Its history is listed below. It is on the National Register, is associated with the Civil war and was the home of Tennessee’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Matt Marshal Neil. It is one of the oldest structures in West Tennessee and is still in good basic structural condition. It is contracted and scheduled for demolition to provide 5-7 parking spaces for the Presbyterian Church adjacent to the house. Justice Neil’s daughter willed it to the church with a $100,000 endowment in 1973. It is a key preservation resource for Trenton which ironically is undergoing a downtown revitalization. The church has recently removed the deed restriction in court, and has supposedly consumed the endowment, and have staunchly refused to consider any other options. The city mayor, a member of the church, has refused to consider any other options.

We have been able to get the recycler/demolition company that is currently removing the architectural detail to temporarily stop demolition and to offer this mansion with all of its original architectural detail to anyone willing to relocate the house intact. Ideally it could be moved to a nearby empty lot. The National Register District in which it sits has many empty lots nearby, but any actions that would save this house, and even move it outside the community would be better than having its architectural detail removed and the house thrown into a landfill, which is its present fate. Costs associated are a few thousand dollars to cover the recycler’s labor costs and costs to move the timber framed mansion. TPT has a fifth generation historic house moving company on standby, ready to discuss moving options ASAP.

Unfortunately, any plans to move the house must proceed quickly. Please contact me directly for any interest anyone may have.

Dan Brown

Executive Director

Tennessee Preservation Trust

P.O. Box 24373

Nashville, TN 37202


Mobile 615.818.6977

The Scrape/Neil House

Built in 1837, By James D. Scrape, the Scrape/Neil House is the second oldest house in Trenton- the oldest being the Crim House c. 1831.

While Trenton was under occupation during the Civil War, Nathan Bedford Forrest’s troops were sent here to cut General Grant’s supply lines to west Tennessee. The Mobile and Ohio Rail lines passed through Trenton, making them a target for Forrest’s strategy to disrupt Union supplies. Union General Fry’s troops were fortifying the rail depot, so Forrest positioned his artillery in the Oakland Cemetery overlooking the depot and aligned his troops on horseback along High Street as they pushed the Union troops until they barricaded themselves inside the rail station. This was December 20, 1862 when all the trees were bare which made the Scrape House the idea location to observe the battle from all angles-the action at the cemetery, the depot, and the troop movements during the battle. From historic accounts, the town watched from the rooftop as the battle unfolded.

After the war, the house became the residence of Professor William K. Jones who opened the Melrose Institute for Young Ladies which at one time was the only school in town. Professor Jones educated girls of all ages as well as small boys in algebra, geometry, Latin, philosophy, Greek, history, and English through high school level until it merged with Peabody High School.

For almost a century, the home was owned by the M. M. Neil family. Matt Marshall Neil was the Chief Justice, Supreme Court, State of Tennessee from at least 1902 to 1915. His judgments against the Standard Oil Company for inappropriate business practices were published in places such as ‘The New York Times’ of 1908. He is also identified in the book ‘Notable Men of Tennessee’ which contains his personal and professional resume until the year 1905 when the book was written. Upon his death, the house was inherited by his daughter, Mrs. Florence Jordan where she lived until her death in 1973 when she willed it to the church……