Beersheba Springs

This gallery is a mural of Beersheba Springs. It was the first white settlement on the plateau. A chalybeate spring was discovered there in 1833 by Beersheba Cain. Believing the water to have medicinal value, a tavern was built in 1837 to accommodate travelers and visitors.  John Armfield, a retired slave trader, in 1854, purchased  1,000 acres, the original tavern, proprietor’s room, a row of guest cabins and Buck White’s residence. He proceeded to enlarge the tavern into a fashionable watering place hotel. He further built twenty cottages to the specifications of persons to whom he leased lots. Two of the cottages were given to Episcopal Bishops James Otey and Leonidas Polk in an effort to influence the selection of the plateau as a site for The University of the South. In this he was successful as well as in influencing Eugen Plumacher to recommend the plateau as the site for a Swiss Colony at Gruetli. Beersheba Springs under John Armfield’s influence became a summer resort for southern plantation owners in the lower south. The Civil War interrupted the fortunes of the southern plantation owners and the cottages acquired by them were taken back by John Armfield. Many of the cottages were later acquired by successful merchants and professionals from Nashville and other places in Middle Tennessee. Many of their descendants own the cottages today. The hotel struggled after the Civil War and in 1941 was acquired by the Methodist Conference of Middle Tennessee who operates it as a conference and retreat center. Beersheba Springs has been placed on the National Register as a historic district.