The Watson-Brown Foundation's plans for Hickory Hill are about to take off.
Tad Brown, director of the Watson-Brown Foundation, told Thomson City Planning Commissioners last week that the historic home of Thomas E. Watson is taking on a new life. It will be a historic house museum and seminar center.
"We are delighted to be spreading our wings further," Mr. Brown said.
Mr. Brown asked city planning commission members to rezone about 36 acres of the 202-acre estate from residential to special use. The board unanimously approved the request and their recommendation will go before the Thomson City Council on May 13 for final approval.
Planning Director Fred Guerrant said the new use for Hickory Hill would produce between 10 and 30 cars per month in traffic, but would have very little impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
Hickory Hill was purchased in 1900 by Thomas E. Watson, a Thomson native and legendary author and politician. Hickory Hill was Mr. Watson's vision, and while he purchased the home 35 years after it was built, he made many architectural and aesthetic enhancements over the next 17 years.
The Watson-Brown Foundation has worked extensively over the last two years to make Hickory Hill close to what it was in 1920. Mr. Brown said the foundation hopes to have a museum curator on site later this year.
The historic home sits less than a mile from the foundation's headquarters on Tom Watson Way.
"We are certainly fortunate to have the Watson-Brown Foundation's headquarters right here in our community," said city planning commission chairman Jim Alfriend.