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Johnny Cash’s Lake House even closer to becoming eating disorder rehab center

Johnny Cash’s former Hendersonville, Tennessee estate will soon become “high-end” a rehab center for women recovering from eating disorders. It is a far cry from a rehab center for many things that plagued the singer during his lifetime. However, the new owner, Texas investor and businessman James Gresham told The Tennessean. “No one represents hope and healing more than Johnny and June Carter Cash. Everything about him has been about redemption. This is a real way of preserving this property.” Gresham, plans to commute from his home in the Fort Worth area and run the facility.

 Johnny and June Carter Cash performing
Johnny and June Carter Cash performing
Google images/zillow
Johnny Cash and the Lake House
Google Images

On August 1, 2014, The Tennessean reported that Gresham and his Lakehouse Holdings, LLC will refurbish Johnny and June’s lakefront home at 200 Caudill Drive, built in 1968, the year Cash married June Carter, to its original grandeur. The iconic and adored country music legends’ estate graced 4.5 acres and sold to Gresham for $2 million dollars by its second owners, Barry Gibb (of the iconic Bee Gees trio) and Linda Gibb. Marty Stuart once hailed Johnny and June’s home as the Graceland of country music.

Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash lived there for over 30 years, until June passed away in May 2003. Four months later, Johnny passed away, following his long time love. “Johnny and June lived there the entire time they were married,” Tommy Cash said. “It was the only house they lived in together until they both passed on.”

In 2005, Barry and his wife, Linda, bought the estate with plans to restore the property. However, in the midst of restorations in 2007, the home, mostly built with wood, mysteriously burned down. Investigators could not find a cause for the devastating fire. After the fire destroyed the home, the Gibbs left and the property stood vacant and abandoned along the shores of Old Hickory Lake.

Finally, Gibb sold it to Texas investor and businessman James Gresham and his Lakehouse Holdings in late 2007 for $2 million. Gresham’s dream is to transform the former home of Johnny and June into a high-end residential treatment facility, specializing in treating men and women with eating disorders and feature two lodge-style homes. Gresham also said he eventually hopes to rebuild the Cash home into a common area shared by all of the residents. The facility will house a maximum of 40 residents at one time, with no more than 20 residents treated in each house. Gresham began Googling sites for his dream and fell in love with the Nashville, Tennessee area. He said the Cash property wasn’t for sale at first and buying it has been a “dream come true.”

Nevertheless, before Gresham’s dream of operating a world-class treatment facility on the property begins, he’ll have to get the proper rezoning from the city of Hendersonville. The property is currently zoned suburban residential, allowing one single-family home to be built on each of the land’s four lots. Lakehouse Holdings is requesting to amend the city’s Land Use and Transportation Plan, asking that the residential area be designated an “employment center” rather than “suburban living.”

First, a request to amend the city’s Land Use and Transportation Plan must be presented before having the property rezoned, Hendersonville Planning Director Fred Rogers, explained. Gresham is expected to submit a preliminary master development plan by noon Monday.

Once submitted, the plan is reviewed by the city’s planning staff before coming before the Hendersonville Regional Planning Commission on Sept. 2. A public hearing on the proposed amendment to the Land Use and Transportation Plan is already scheduled for that night at 6:30 p.m. Following the planning commission’s recommendation to approve or deny the rezoning and land use plan amendment, the project will come before the city’s General Committee, and then the full Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Gresham has met with several aldermen concerning the project, including Darrell Woodcock, who represents the area.

The facility is designed to pay honor to builder Braxton Dixon. Dison had originally built the home for his own family, but Johnny fell in love with it. Braxton Dixon relented to Johnny's pleas and sold him the home. Dixon also built the home of Marty Stuart and his wife, Connie Smith, who live next door to the property. The 14,000 square foot Tennessee home had wide windows that overlooked Old Hickory Lake, round rooms that were 35 feet across, seven bedrooms and gardens that stretched across the property. The house was filled with stone, marble and reclaimed wood salvaged from old barns. There was never an original blueprint–instead, the builder just did what felt right at the time, and the house took on a form all its own.

Gresham, was initially, an investor in Timberline Knolls, a treatment facility for adolescents and women with eating disorders in the Chicago area. Later, Mr. Gresham became its chairman and CEO —commuting from his Texas home for six years. Two years ago, he sold the facility and wanted to create something more intimate and specialized. “I just found it a life-changing experience to be able to use my business background to help change lives,” he said. “This is really what I wanted my life’s work to be. I have a real passion for helping folks.”

Only one particular objection to the facility came from several phone calls and emails from area residents to Woodcock who are concerned about what they understand to be a rehab facility so close to their homes. One would certainly find it amusing that this concern is even legitimate. As Johnny Cash might say, “maybe the area’s residents are concerned that there may be a breakout of non-bulimic, hungry patients stealing food from their pantries.” Alderman Darrell Woodcock said he expects to hold a meeting for residents to voice their concerns after the project presents to the planning commission on Sept. 2. This lack of knowledge and understanding of eating disorders should be explained to naysayers at that meeting.

Gresham, 45, of Fort Worth, says he is currently in the process of renovating a small house on the property the Cashes called the wardrobe room — a building that housed their many costumes. Later it was used as an apartment for family and guests. He wants to restore the property to its original beauty while providing a place of healing. And James Gresham, keeps walking that line straight to his goal of helping people with an addiction. Johnny and June Carter Cash would have definitely approved.

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