Hermitage Landmark May Be Torn Down

Posted at 4:41 PM, Jun 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-20 20:20:37-04

Larry Hager purchased a home in Hermitage in 1969 where he planned to settle down, have a family, and care for horses inside a big, red barn that sat on the property. Over several decades, Hager's tract of land transformed from farmland to a bustling suburb.

Now, Old Hickory Boulevard dissects land Hager once owned, shrinking his lot size. New neighbors, like Chick-fil-A and Buffalo Wild Wings are bright reminders that Hermitage is no longer the quiet countryside Hager chose as his home.

But through all that time, Hager's home, barn, and horses have mostly stayed the same.

"It's peaceful out here," said Pat Hager, Larry's wife. "It's like the best of both worlds. I can go eat real quick and go back home and be in the country."

Ten horses roam the property now, which is mostly an unintentional consequence of former clients choosing to give up horses they once paid the family to board.

"The horses that are left here are all orphans," Pat said. "And they get so much attention, they're very calm."

The horses have evolved into a neighborhood attraction and landmark. Strangers often stop by after leaving Golden Corral to pet them.

"If they’ve been having a rough day and they just need something to cheer them up, they just come over and pet a horse," Pat said. "They’ve been a blessing for a lot of people."

A blessing that became Larry Hager's legacy - he died in 2016, leaving Pat to care for the animals on her own. Pat loves the work and the horses, who come to her by name, but a recent incident has caused her to question the farm's future.

"I came back from Home Depot one day and I was in the kitchen fixing something at the sink, and I saw wood laying where it shouldn’t be," she said.

After standing for nearly 70 years, and surviving the flood of 2010, the Hager barn collapsed in on itself. A massive hole in the roof has made it too unsafe to enter.

"My husband was always worried about something happening, and he passed away two years ago so he didn't have to see this," Pat said. "I'm just trying to figure out what to do next."

But Pat didn't have to worry for long.

Within days, a neighbor launched a gofundme campaign. State Representative Darren Jernigan brought in experts to survey the damage and develop a plan.

Jernigan said the landmark is likely too damaged to be saved, but he hopes to rebuild. He plans to organize people to help tear down the barn in the coming weeks.

Pat plans to care for the horses as long as possible.

"It's a landmark, it really is," she said.