PAUL HOUSEWRIGHT, et al.
DR. RONALD K. McCORMACK, et al.
Session Date: September 14, 2016
from the Chancery Court for Hawkins County No. 2014-CH-225
Douglas T. Jenkins, Chancellor
appeal concerns the validity of a warranty deed in which the
decedents conveyed a parcel of property for the benefit of a
church. The deed contained a reversionary clause requiring
the property to revert back if no longer used for the benefit
of the church. The same parcel was included in another deed
that did not contain a reversionary clause but was recorded
before the original deed. The church listed the property for
sale approximately 67 years later. The decedents' heirs
filed suit. The defendants sought summary judgment, claiming
that ownership of the property was established through the
deed recorded first. The court granted summary judgment. We
R. App. P. 3 Appeal as of Right; Judgment of the Chancery
Court Affirmed; Case Remanded
Phillip L. Boyd, Rogersville, Tennessee, for the appellants,
Paul Housewright, Billy Kyle Housewright, Judy Housewright
Jenkins, Danny Gladson, Armina Kegley, Diana Sweet, Patricia
Michael, Frank Gladstone, and Paula Diggers.
L. Schefeik, Estill Springs, Tennessee, for the appellees,
Dr. Ronald McCormack, First Church of the Nazarene of the
East Tennessee District, and Town and Country Realty.
W. McClarty, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which
D. Michael Swiney, C.J. and Thomas R. Frierson, II, J.,
W. McCLARTY, JUDGE
26, 1947, W.E. Housewright and Mary Sue Housewright
(collectively "the Housewrights") signed a warranty
deed in which they sought to convey a parcel of property for
the construction of the Church Hill Nazarene Church
("the Church") and other improvements. The deed
provided, in pertinent part, as follows:
This property is deeded for the purpose of erecting a
Nazarene Church and if it should ever fail to be used as
such, then this said land will go back to parties of the
deed did not list a grantee and was not recorded until August
19, 2014, shortly before the present litigation.
on April 12, 1948, the Housewrights signed another warranty
deed in which they conveyed 14 acres of property, including
the parcel at issue, to Clarence W. Wallace and Mary Kate
Wallace (collectively "the Wallaces"). The Wallaces
paid the Housewrights $3, 000 and recorded the deed on April
28, 1948. This deed was later corrected, presumably to
exclude the parcel already conveyed to the
August 4, 1948, the Wallaces then conveyed the parcel at
issue by warranty deed to Ada Long and Mrs. Housewright, as
Trustees of the Church and their successors in office. This
deed was recorded on January 12, 1950.
2014, the Advisory Board of East Tennessee, the Church's
governing entity, decided to sell the property because of low
attendance and financial difficulties. The Housewrights'
heirs (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed suit
against Dr. Ronald McCormack, First Church of the Nazarene of
the East Tennessee District, and Town and Country Realty
(collectively "Defendants"), alleging that the
property could not be sold as a result of the reversionary
clause in the 1947 deed.
sought summary judgment, claiming that ownership of the
property was properly established through the August 1948
deed from the Wallaces to the Church. Defendants attached an
affidavit from Dr. McCormack in which he provided that a
title search revealed that the Church held the title to the
property at issue. He claimed that he first learned of the
1947 deed in August 2014.
Plaintiffs moved to dismiss the motion for summary judgment,
claiming that the motion failed to state a basis upon which
it could be granted and that Defendants failed to comply with
Rule 56.03 of the Tennessee Rules of Civil Procedure by
failing to file a statement of undisputed material facts and
by attaching an affidavit that was not supported by the
affiant's personal knowledge.
also filed a statement of disputed facts in which they
claimed that the 1947 deed was properly recorded and should
be included in the property's chain of title. They
asserted that the October 1951 deed of correction clarified
that the April 1948 deed erroneously included the property at
issue. They further claimed that construction of the Church
began two years before the 1948 deeds and three years before
the 1951 deed of correction. They provided that a dedication
plaque was presented to Mrs. Housewright in recognition of
her donation of the property.
attached affidavits from Paul and Billy Kyle Housewright, who
attested to their personal knowledge of their mother's
status as the original grantor and trustee of the property at
issue. They further provided as follows:
It was common knowledge of the Church members and neighbors
[that] this property was a part of the Housewright property
[and that] there was a reversionary clause stating [that] at
any time the Church ceased operations ...