Historic Burns public well getting makeover


The Burns historic public well is undergoing a makeover.

Though the upcoming changes weren’t planned — a vehicle recently hit the gazebo surrounding the well’s pump — the new structure seems to be a modernized improvement.

The Joyce family that owns Middle Tennessee Lumber is heading up the new building that will cover the pump, located at the intersection of Church and Main streets in Burns.

Local historians said the spot near a stop sign was chosen for the well, which is over a 100 years old and more than 100 feet deep, so that a fence could not be built around it.

One such historian, Seth Stuart, wrote about another incident in the 1970s when the structure surrounding the well was smashed by a vehicle.

“Debris was scattered all around and it looked like the end of the well,” Stuart wrote in his 1975 history of Burns. “But it wasn’t.”

Stuart noted that a new enclosure was built around the well those decades ago.

Bill Joyce, president of Middle Tennessee Lumber, said his crew finished removing the gazebo recently after the vehicle damaged it.

“We have a great design for the new building,” Joyce said.

Burns residents have taken pride in preserving the public well though the public isn’t using its water like they did a century ago.

Stuart wrote about the well’s significance.

“A number of families for several years after the advent of the well derived all their water supply from it,” Stuart wrote. “In seasons of drought, when other cisterns or well were dry, people would use this well.”

“People have had a manner of congregating there just to pass this time away, to converse, or perhaps exchange a bit of gossip,” Stuart added.

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