Wal-Mart seems to have a good sense of history — it’s just short. In fact, it doesn’t seem to stretch back beyond 1962, when pioneer Sam Walton founded the retail company. Anything before that seems to be, well, history. Residents in Hendersonville,Tennessee are scratching their heads trying to figure out why Wal-Mart needs to build a supercenter on the site of the Bradford-Berry House, which was built by one of the first settlers in the state. Henry Bradford, who fought in the Revolutinary War, built the handsome brick home in the late 1790s. William Carroll, who was a three term governor of Tennessee, was married in the parlor of the Bradford-Berry 190 years ago. But now Wal-Mart wants to relocate the historic home to pave the way for another superstore. There are already 8 Wal-Marts within 20 miles of Hendersonville — including one on East Main Street in the city. Wal-Mart now wants city support to build their 204,000 s.f. store. According to the Hendersonville Star News, local official are not entirely willing to trade off history for another retail store. The home, which was sold to General Electric in 1968, but is still used as a residence, sits on industrially-zoned land, so Wal-Mart will have to request a rezoning to “conmmercial planned unit development” before any further work is done on the property. Where the Bradford-Berry house now sits, a parking lot would grace the property. One Alderman, Jaime Clary, expressed concerns to the local paper. ‘I think a part of the history is the location,” Clary said. ”You can’t just pick it up and move it.” Hendersonville Mayor Jim Fuqua also had his doubts: ‘If I really thought it could be moved, I’d be more inclined to go for it,” Fuqua said. ”But the house is made of solid brick.” The Bradford-Berry House apparently has 2-feet-thick brick walls, giving even the Mayor pause. “I’d like to see a super Wal-Mart in Hendersonville,” the Mayor noted, “but there are better sites.” Unfortunately, Wal-Mart’s historic plans have caught the city without any historic zoning — a mistake offiicials now want to correct. ‘We’re losing a lot of tradition and history in this town by letting businesses come in and tear down this and that,” another Alderman told the Star News. ”I know that it means a lot of extra money in the city coffers and all that, but to me some things are more important.” In fact, the Alderman and the Mayor have no idea how much money a Wal-Mart supercenter will bring — or take — from Hendersonville. But when you don’t understand history, you repeat the same mistakes. They may also lose their existing Wal-Mart store, if the company follows its own historic pattern of shutting down all the discount stores they can’t convert into supercenters. The city could also have some emtpy grocery stores on their hands as well. So the city coffers may not realize the impact some officials count on.
When Wal-Mart tried to buy George Washington’s Ferry Farm boyhood home to build a discount store, local preservationists finally had to buy them out of the property, and the company moved their plans one mile or so down the road in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Residents were outraged that Wal-Mart would even consider destroying George Washington’s homesite — but, after all, George is on the $1 bill, and Wal-Mart likes to collect those. Hendersonville has only one Bradford-Berry home, but eight nearby Wal-Marts. In fact, if this supercenter is built, no doubt other existing smaller Wal-Mart discount stores will close. So far, that’s been Wal-Mart’s history. For more on that subject, search this database by “empty stores” or “dark stores.”