Restoration of the Hardeman House, home of long-time Freed-Hardeman President N.B. Hardeman, has been completed. FHU hosted a ribbon cutting and viewing of the house Aug. 21. Frank “Brad” Bradshaw, great-grandson of the Hardemans, spoke at the re-opening of the house.
The two-year, $500,000 project was funded by members of the Hardeman and Bradshaw families. Extensive repairs have been made to the both the interior and exterior of the house, including new custom windows and Hardy Board siding, along with reconstruction of the front porch. In addition, new wiring and plumbing have been installed. Bead board ceilings have replaced sheet rock and hardwood floors have been refinished. Shaker-styled cabinets and ceramic tile floor have been installed in the kitchen, and the tile is also in the sunroom. A concrete driveway has been poured, and parking has been expanded. Henderson contractor, Tony Rush, supervised the restoration of the house.
N.B. and Joanna Tabler Hardeman built the house at 307 White Avenue in 1915 for their family. Joanna Hardeman had inherited the property from her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. John McCulley.
Designed by Hubert T. McGee, an alumnus of Freed-Hardeman predecessor Georgie Robertson Christian College and a first cousin of Joanna Tabler Hardeman, the house features a series of twins: twin bay windows, twin staircases and twin fireplaces. When the house was built, it included two bathrooms, although running water was not yet available. That came a year later. The house was the first in Chester County to have electric lights; however, kerosene lamps were still necessary, since the town’s power went off at 11:00pm each day.
Hardeman's granddaughter, Joanne Powers Bradshaw, who spent much of her childhood in the house, remembers it as grand. “I never considered the exterior beautiful,” she wrote, “but to me, it represented strength.”
Since the college did not have dormitories, students sometimes lived with the Hardemans. Joanne Bradshaw remembers that at one time 12 students and five members of the Hardeman family lived in the home. Her grandmother, who also taught music at the college, provided meals for the crowd.
The grounds also included a horse barn, hen house, kitchen, rose gardens, three-car garage and riding track. Hardeman was a breeder of champion Tennessee Walking horses and an active board member of the Tennessee Walking Horse Association. The barn, which housed Hardeman’s most celebrated horses, Sun’s Dark Lady and Maid of Cotton, also received a face-lift.
Freed-Hardeman College purchased the house in 1974 with the help of alumnus Guy N. Woods, who served as moderator of the Annual Bible Lectureship Open Forum for many years. He contributed the proceeds from the sale of “Questions and Answers, Vol. I,” which he had compiled and edited from questions asked and answered at the lectureship.
The FHU National Associates have their office in the house, and the house is available for meetings, luncheons, receptions and small weddings. FHU Associates Laurel Sewell, Kay DeLay, Debbie McLaughlin, Tracie Shannon and Ann Tucker served as committee members who were heavily involved with the restoration project.