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Former Rockefeller property burns down

Posted February 4, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— The Bird Song building, part of Fort Bragg's Overhills area that was formerly part of a Rockefeller family estate that gave it its name, burned down early Wednesday, according to Fort Bragg spokeswoman Sheri Lynn Crowe.

The fire was reported at 12:19 a.m., bringing Fort Bragg and Harnett County fire departments. The cause of the fire has not been determined.

bird song building burned down 2/4/09 Former Rockefeller guest house destroyed in blaze

The building had no electrical hookups. A Fort Bragg spokesman said trespassers have been known to roam the site, but it's not clear if that had anything to do with the fire.

Members of the second-generation Rockefeller family established Overhills in the Sandhills area, just north of Fayetteville, in the early 1900s. They used the estate as a hunting lodge and resort for themselves and guests.

The Bird Song house, built about 1962, had more than 20 rooms – including 14 bedrooms and 14 baths – and was 10,649 square feet. It was used as a residence for members of the family, which also had a nearby mansion named Croatan. Fort Bragg officials described it as a guest house and said it also had an indoor swimming pool.

Bird Song building, Overhills, former Rockefeller estate Sky 5: Remains of former Rockefeller estate house

The Army purchased the property in 1997 for $30 million so it could add the estate's 10,500 acres to its training grounds. The estate had 150 structures, including stables and a golf course.

No training was taking place at the Bird Song building during the fire.

The building had been released from historical protection. Fort Bragg officials have initiated a documentation plan to preserve information about the history of Overhills, which is north of Pope Air Force Base.

10 Comments

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  • strickrdu Feb 5, 2:38 p.m.

    I was born at Overhills,my father worked there.I remember fondly the old train station,the stables painted white & bright red. The main gate that opened with a pull of a rope,the stone bath house down by the lake&the water fall.Roaming around the golf course and the complete quite and stillness of the hole place. It seemed magical as a kid.

  • jackiesandusky Feb 5, 9:54 a.m.

    THE GOV'T HAS NOT TAKEN CARE OF THE PROPERTY & THE BUILDINGS SHOULD HAVE BEEN PROTECTED RATHER THAN NEGLECTED. A LOT OF THE WONDERFUL BUILDINGS & HOMES HAVE BEEN USED FOR "TRAINING" & HAVE BEEN RUINED/SHOT UP. WE LIVED ON OVERHILLS UNTIL THE GOV'T GOT IT. MY HUSBAND WAS AN EMPLOYEE & THE HOUSE WE LIVED IN IS RUINED. WE HAD EVEN OFFERED TO PURCHASE IT & HAVE IT MOVED BUT WERE TOLD OFFICERS WOULD BE LIVING IN IT-WHICH NEVER HAPPENED. MOST OF THE ROCKEFELLER FAMILY DID NOT WANT TO SELL THE PROPERTY. AND YES THERE IS SLAVE BURIAL GROUNDS ON THE PROPERTY. I AM JSUT GLAD I HAVE ALL THE PHOTOS OF HOW WONDERFUL IT WAS WHEN WE LIVED THERE. ALL THE FAMILIES WHO LIVED ON THE PROPERTY TOOK GREAT CARE & PRIDE IN MAINTAINING IT'S PRISTINE BEAUTY. AND I WAS EVEN GIVEN A HORSE BY ONE OF THE ROCKEFELLER FAMILY IN EXCHANGE FOR A POEM I HAD WRITTEN ABOUT OVERHILLS. IT SURE IS A SHAME TO HAVE LET OVERHILLS GO TO RUIN.

  • TheAdmiral Feb 4, 8:08 p.m.

    I'll give them $50 for the property, and the state can give my $1 Million in incentives to build a decent business on it.

  • news4u Feb 4, 3:43 p.m.

    See folks, we don't need State Giveaway Incentives to lure people to beautiful North Carolina!

  • angusray Feb 4, 2:45 p.m.

    My Uncle was the last farm manager of the Overhills estate and I grew up on overhills up until it was sold. It was beautiful place in its day. I have many great memories of hunting and enjoying the farm. My father was one of the last to play the golf course before it was sold to fort bragg. I have been there hunting over the past few years and if you didn't know where the golf course was you would not have any idea there was even a golf course there. Many people in the community from ages 20 to eighty were born and raised on the farm. I just feel lucky to of been fortunate enough to enjoy it while it lasted. It was really something else to see when it was a running farm.

  • meh2 Feb 4, 2:36 p.m.

    Deputy - turn your caps lock off - there is no need to yell.

  • DEPUTY Feb 4, 2:09 p.m.

    YEARS AGO, MY WIFE AND HER FAMILY LIVED ON THE OVERHILLS ESTATE PROPERTY, AS MY FATHER-IN -LAW WAS EMPLOYED BY THE ROCKEFELLOW FAMILY.

  • Carolina Conservative Feb 4, 1:13 p.m.

    CuriousT - I grew up on Overhills Road about 4 miles from the Overhills estate. I've never heard of the burial grounds you reference (not disputing you - just saying I haven't heard of them). Do you know where they are located on the estate?

  • CuriousT Feb 4, 1:00 p.m.

    Local legend has it that the Rockefeller family did not want to sell this property to the government. According to the legend, the family still has the check (uncashed) to this day. Local legends aren't always accurate, but still, it's a legend.

    There are also slave burial grounds located near this property.

  • Frank Downtown Feb 4, 12:09 p.m.

    Sure it was an accident.