Awards celebrate East TN history

The 2017 East Tennessee Preservation Awards winners have been announced. The event followed the 2017 East Tennessee Preservation Conference and was held in the Riggio-Lynch Chapel, designed by award-winning architect Maya Lin. The East Tennessee Preservation Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations, and projects contributing to the protection of East Tennessee’s heritage. This year, the following were recognized for their contributions:

The Tanner Store in Wartburg has occupied a place of importance on the Courthouse Square since it was built in 1906 to house a bank. John Everett and Maude Williams Tanner purchased the building in 1923 and opened the Tanner Drug Store and Restaurant. It has remained in the Tanner family since that time and at one point was the oldest continuously run family business in Tennessee. Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places,
the building had fallen into disrepair. The community of Wartburg has rallied to repair and stabilize the structure. Many volunteers have contribute time and/or money to restore the parapet and trim work, fix the leaky roof, and re-glaze windows.

Artist Wendy Leedy from Bean Station uses her talent to help preserve Grainger County’s history. With 60 published calendars to her credit, her drawings of significant historic sites in the county have graced calendars for Citizens Bank and now the Grainger County Historic Society. The 2018 calendar features iconic local structures such as the National Register Nance House in Rutledge, the long-abandoned Dotson School built in
1904, and the original Grainger County Courthouse that was destroyed in 1946.

Senator Ken Yager has been a valued supporter of historic preservation in his district for many years. Most recently, Senator Yager secured an appropriation of $100,000 for repairs to the Oliver Springs Depot. The landmark structure was featured on the 2017 East Tennessee Endangered Eight list. Built in the 1890s, the structure houses the community’s library and local history museum.

The former 52 acre National Register District of Morristown College buildings were demolished by the City of Morristown in 2016 to make way for a new public park. In an effort to preserve the history of the school, the Holston Methodist Conference and Morristown Task Force on Diversity joined forces to produce a video highlighting images and stories from former students. The video is available on YouTube and has been shown at
community events and civic club meetings.

The Oak Grove School located in the Sharp’s Chapel community of Union County was featured on the East Tennessee Endangered Heritage list for many years. It is one of only 30 remaining Rosenwald Schools in Tennessee. The two-room schoolhouse was built between 1917 and 1929 and served a variety of purposes until the early 1960’s. In recent years, Preservation Union County has led efforts to restore the building. The grassroots effort has shown the power communities can have in preserving their historic structures. The School will become the home to Preservation Union County and serve as a hub for community activities.

McKayla Floyd, an 18-year-ol Sevierville Girl Scout, and some friends took the lead in cleaning up the long neglected Esslinger Cemetery on Douglas Dam Road. It started with making the grave of Revolutionary War
2 soldier William M. Robertson accessible once again and grew from there. Upon hearing from the local American Legion that the condition of the cemetery made placing a flag on Robertson’s grave on Memorial Day impossible, Floyd sprang into action. The young preservationist recently enlisted in the U.S. Navy and earned her Girl Scout Gold Award from the Esslinger Cemetery project.

The University of Tennessee’s Facilities Services Complex is an adaptive reuse of a 90,000 SF industrial facility in Knoxville’s Marble City neighborhood. Once a nationally recognized marble-processing plant, the building now serves as the home of the University’s Facilities Services Department. Extant features like riveted steel framing, hardwood planking, and a silo were maintained. The project has garnered awards from American School and University magazine and from the East Tennessee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Zack Taylor is a “genealogy detective” known for researching African-American history in Jefferson County. Zack took the lead and worked with A.M.E. Zion Church in New Market to restore the burial grounds there. It unveiled a portrait of New Market’s African-American history. Burial began in the cemetery in 1891 and includes the grave of a woman who witnessed the New Market Train Wreck of 1904 and another born into slavery in 1853. It is the final resting place of at least one Civil War soldier. Zack and other volunteers have cleared brush, positioned military markers, placed tombstones, and extensively researched the cemetery’s history.

Barry Thacker and Carol Moore know about youth engagement and that understanding the stories of a community’s past can impact the people of today. What started as an idea to clean up Coal Creek to improve trout fishing, grew into an expansive community initiative that engaged youth in new ways of discovering and preserving their history, including restoring Militia Hill, creating the Coal Creek Miner’s Museum and history trails, establishing historic markers and listing sites on the National Register. As founders of the Coal Creek Watershed Foundation, Barry and Carol have provided multiple college scholarships to Rocky Top area students and reconnected them to their East Tennessee and Welsh heritage.