Since November, a Nashville-area property that once belonged to Johnny Cash has been for sale. You may have even read about it on CMT.com, in The Wall Street Journal, in Forbes, which reported the asking price of $3.95 million.
But you might not know that the current owner — who bought it from the Bee Gees’ Barry Gibb, no less — is a Colleyville native and 1991 TCU grad who got his master’s degree from SMU in 2000.
James Gresham, who currently lives in Westlake, bought the property — in Hendersonville, Tenn., where Burleson-bred Kelly Clarkson recently put her home up for sale for $8.75 million — from Gibb for $2 million in 2024, according to Forbes. Gresham stresses that he is not a developer: He is a businessman who planned to open a treatment center for women and girls with eating disorders, addiction and trauma. He had already been chairman of the similar Timberline Knolls Treatment Center outside of Chicago.
“It was a large facility, and I sold it in 2012,” Gresham says in a phone interview. “I started looking for a place to get back into the treatment business, and in doing so, I think it’s important to find a land or a property that has kind of a story and has meaning to it, because all of that kind of helps in the healing process. And I was looking for a property, wanting to tie in music — I’m interested in therapies that surround music. I had come across Johnny Cash’s home, and thought, ‘There’s no one better to represent hope and healing than Johnny and June Cash’.”
If you want a property that has a story and meaning to it, it’s hard to beat this one. Cash bought the 4-acre-plus property in 1968. He and June Carter Cash lived there through nearly all of their 35-year marriage. One of the best music videos of the 21st century, director Mark Romanek’s emotionally raw clip for Cash’s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt,” was shot at the house. So were scenes from the 2006 biopic “Walk the Line.”
According to a publicist’s email, the home is “where Kris Kristofferson epically landed his helicopter in a desperate plea for Cash’s attention and where countless guests visited the family, including Bob Dylan, Billy Graham, Al Gore and even former President Ronald Reagan. It’s also where Johnny hosted his legendary ‘guitar pulls,’ informal, star-studded jams, in the late ’60s and early ’70s, which included the day’s top acts from Paul McCartney, to The Statler Brothers, to Waylon Jennings, to George Jones and even poet Shel Silverstein.” (Silverstein wrote “A Boy Named Sue.”)
Among Cash’s neighbors have been Connie Smith and Marty Stuart, Richard Sterban of the Oak Ridge Boys and Roy Orbison.
June Carter Cash died in May 2003; Johnny died mere months later, in September. According to a Washington Post story from 2007, Gibb bought the 13,880-square-foot home that sat on the property in 2006 with plans to remodel it and write songs there with his wife. Unfortunately, that Washington Post story is about a fire that destroyed the house, but the lakefront property it sat on is still there.
“Despite the destruction, much of the property’s charm is still intact,” says the Forbes report. “There’s the rock wall surrounding the property that Johnny and June frequently added rocks and pebbles to after returning from vacation, the guard booth where Tennessee state troopers welcomed guests like Bob Dylan, Billy Graham and Al Gore to the property, and the remains of several gardens June loved to keep filled with flowers.”
The Cashes converted a three-car garage into a wardrobe room; Gresham, in turn, remodeled the wardrobe room into an apartment.
According to the Post story, the house was built by architect Braxton Dixon (whom Stuart called “the closest thing this part of the country had to Frank Lloyd Wright”) for his family in 1967, and Cash persuaded Dixon — who was reluctant to say yes — to sell it to him.
According to Shore Fire Media, both Dixon and Gibb had plans to restore the house after the fire, but it never happened. Gresham says that Gibb had a lot of offers after the fire, but that the singer liked Gresham’s plan for a treatment center and sold him the property.
But the treatment center didn’t happen, either.
“I did not get the zoning accomplished,” says Gresham, who ran into opposition from some neighbors (although according to a USA Today story, Cash’s brother Tommy, son John Carter Cash and good friend and neighbor Stuart were among the project’s supporters). “And I had some other personal reasons after that that kept me from pursuing it for any longer.”
Gresham says that in his time as owner, he has met many of Cash’s family, friends and neighbors, and he’s selective about whom he sells to. According to Shore Fire’s site, he would prefer that it goes to a buyer who will preserve the Cash legacy.
He says that his college degrees are business-related. Running a treatment center happened by chance, but he found that it fed his soul.
“I kind of ended up being a serial entrepreneur,” he says. “Owning several businesses, and that kind of led me into treatment. Through a series of other people, I found out about the treatment business and passively invested, and then ended up operating the business and just fell in love with it. To be in a situation where I can apply my business skills to a setting that helps people was really spiritually rewarding for me.”