The fate of the Hancock House in Gallatin remains unclear after the historic building was severely damaged by a fire in August.
Rogers Group, which owns the property at 2144 Nashville Pike, is working with its insurance carriers along with the tenants/former owners of the residence and has not made a decision regarding the future of the site, according to Bryan Ledford, area vice president for the company.
The property was purchased by the company, which operates a rock quarry nearby, from Roberta and Carl Hancock in 2019, who have continued to operate a bed and breakfast and event space at the residence.
“It’s devastating,” Roberta Hancock said about the extensive damage from the fire. “The building could be saved, but we just don’t have enough money to restore it. We need a miracle. It’s in God’s hands.”
At least 75 percent of the building suffered fire and water damage from the blaze which began around 2:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, according to an incident report from the Gallatin Fire Department.
Officials believe the fire was caused by old wiring that showed some electrical arcing issues in an area located directly behind the main building that Hancock said was being used to store furniture.
“As this fire consumed the building in the back it then made its way to the main structure getting into the overhead ceiling area and continued to burn throughout the structure,” according to the incident report.
No one was in the building when the fire occurred, and no injuries were reported, officials said.
While the Hancocks typically stayed in the residence, the couple had recently moved to a nearby cabin on the property in order to give guests more space in the home. They had also stopped accepting rentals for two weeks as they prepared to go on a vacation to visit family out of state.
“If (the fire) had been three weeks sooner, we would have been right up there,” Hancock said pointing up to a room at the top floor of the residence. “Maybe if we’d been here, we would have realized it sooner. We might have heard something.”
The Hancock House was a pre-1851 stagecoach stop and toll gate house that was previously known as Avondale Station, according to its website. The property was later turned into a bed and breakfast that was also capable of hosting large gatherings like weddings and other private events for up to 200 guests.
A week before the fire, Hancock said that every room of the house was being used for a family reunion, which had guests that ranged in age from six months old to the elderly.
“Thank you, God, that it didn’t happen then,” she said last week.
Due to the extent of the damage from the fire, the city’s building codes department has recommended that the building be demolished, according to a dangerous building inspection report from August.
Gallatin Building Official Chuck Stuart told the Gallatin News last month that he believes “there is no salvaging” the structure.
“It was pretty bad,” Stuart said about the damage to the historic home. “The fire really got intense heat into that building and destroyed timbers and everything. It’s going to have to come down.”
Out of the 15 fully furnished rooms in the residence, only about three rooms worth of antiques and other items have been able to be salvaged so far, according to Hancock. Valuables such as irreplaceable family photos were destroyed in the blaze.
Despite the loss, Hancock said that she does not want others to feel sorry for her or her husband.
“I’m not having a pity party,” she said. “We are strong, and we are in reasonably good health. We will overcome. We will come out of this, and we will survive. God is not finished with us yet.”