Cold Spring Elementary School property belongs to church

Rick Wagner • Updated Jun 11, 2018 at 11:50 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Have you heard the true tale about the local school that apparently was built on land neither the school system nor local government never owned?

It seems a local church is welcome to use old school grounds in eastern Sullivan County that the school system apparently never owned; a deed says the church has owned the land since 1842.

The old Cold Spring Elementary, near Emmett Elementary, ceased being a school in the 1970s. An adjoining church, Cold Spring Presbyterian, is planning some improvements and checked with the school system about ownership of the property and possibly using or purchasing it. The old school and site are near U.S. Route 421, near Laurel Marina and South Holston Lake, next to the church at 280 Cold Spring Church Road.

(You may recall the former Weaver Elementary near Sullivan East High School closed in 2016, and the school board is in the process of disposing of it through bids and has settled on selling it to a cemetery, with small sections going to two adjacent homeowners, another section to a cemetery and the building and its parcel possibly going to a bakery.)

School board attorney Pat Hull said at Tuesday’s school board meeting that his research found that the Cold Spring property had been deeded to three men, trustees of Cold Spring Church, in a deed dated Aug. 15, 1842, and recorded July 27,1843. 

Hull said the church still owns the property, “which means we had a school on property that wasn’t ours.”

He could find no other deed for the property.

“We don’t have a claim to that property. My recommendation is we just do nothing,” Hull said.

The school board did, or more correctly didn’t do, just that at its regular meeting Tuesday.

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