Leach Fire Tower Placed on National Historic Registry
LEACH (November 14) — The United States Department of the Interior and the National Park Service has placed the Leach Fire Lookout Tower on the National Register of Historic Places. The tower is under the Tennessee Division of Forestry Lookout Towers. Leach
Located in Cedar Grove the structure was placed on the registry due its level of significance and statewide impact at the local level.
While very little historical information is available regarding the Leach Fire Lookout Tower, it is known that the State of Tennessee Division of Forestry entered into a contract with the Guy Lawrence, Pauline Haywood, and Gladys Ainsworth on November 23, 1956, which allowed the construction, use, and maintenance of a fire lookout tower on the property. The contract allowed the State to use the property for fire detection and gave the State the right of ingress and egress. In the event of the State’s abandonment of the property, the land title will revert to its original owners, and all structures and appurtenances will remain the property of the State of Tennessee.
The 80-foot tower is situated to provide an elevation of 627 feet. Constructed in 1957, the tower provided a high, sheltered location for fire observation through its square cab featuring a band of windows that provide a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding terrain.
The property is situated within a clearing surrounded by mature forests on the east side of Leach Road in Carroll County. The tower has not been significantly altered since its date of construction. As a result, the property retains a high level of historic integrity. The property includes four contributing buildings, two non-contributing buildings, and one noncontributing structure.
Situated approximately ninety- feet north of the Leach Fire Lookout Tower is a circa 1957 utility building, which currently functions as a garage and workshop space. The one-story, frame building sits on a concrete block foundation, is clad with vinyl siding, features an interior concrete block chimney, and is topped by a gable roof covered with asphalt shingles. The chimney is flanked to the south by a two-light, metal sash sliding window.
Approximately twenty feet west of the lookout tower is a 1957 crew house that functions as office space for forestry employees. The one story, rectangular plan, frame building sits on a north-south axis and features a west-facing façade. The façade is marked by a partial width covered porch, with four evenly-spaced modern ornamental iron supports atop a concrete floor. Within the porch, a centered, a six-light, paneled wood entry door is flanked to the south by a single six-over-six, double-hung wood sash window and a pair of similar windows to the north of the door.
The crew house consists of six rooms including a main room used as office space and a reception area, two offices, bathroom, kitchen, storage room, and a central hallway. All walls are faced with wood paneling, and a mixture of hardwood flooring and linoleum tile is used throughout the building.
Fifteen feet southeast of the Leach Fire Lookout Tower is the former Lookout Operator’s Cabin, which was constructed in 1957 and is currently used as storage. The original building has been modified with a modern addition on its east elevation.
In accordance with the National Register Criteria, the fire tower and surrounding property are associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history.
The lookout tower is significant under National Register Criterion in the area of Conservation as a reflection of changing conceptions regarding forest management and fire control in the twentieth century. Tennessee, along with many other states, benefited from the early shift in public policy allowing for improvement in fire detection as a result of the conservation movement that led to the construction and staffing of fire towers.
In the United States Forest Service’s Southern Region (Region 8), and particularly in the State of Tennessee, with large areas of difficult-to-access mountain terrain and thick forest canopy, fire towers have served as a particularly important fire management tool. At its peak, the state had 208 lookout towers of which 142 were extant as of 2014. The lookout tower is a prominent symbol of the history of fire management and a key component of the conservation movement in the mid-20th century. From its establishment, the Forest Service played a significant role in shaping national fire control policies as well as in the development of state level fire prevention systems.
The Leach Fire Lookout Tower is a visual reminder of this multi-agency, federal and state-level governmental cooperation for the benefit of forest land in Tennessee.
It is also stated the property embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction or represents the work of a master, or possesses high artistic values, or represents a significant and distinguishable entity whose components lack individual distinction.