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Eight Tennessee Sites Added to the National Register of Historic Places

Tennessee GovernmentNashville, TN – The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced eight Tennessee sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.  The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. 

It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources.  The Tennessee Historical Commission administers the program in Tennessee.

“These listings highlight some of the diverse places that tell the story of Tennessee’s unique history,” said Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission. “Our office is proud of its role in ensuring recognition of these time-honored places that help give Tennesseans a sense of pride in their communities.”

Sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places include:

Beasley Mounds

This important archaeological site contains a prehistoric Mississippian period (A.D. 900-1450) mound complex, habitation areas and cemeteries.  The property has yielded, or has the potential to yield, information on prehistoric Mississippian life ways.  The site includes remnants of five earthen mounds and adjoining ridges around an apparent open plaza. 

First written about in the 1820s, the site was studied by Edward Myer in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Myer’s interest in the prehistory began as an avocation, but he eventually turned it into his profession, working with the Bureau of American Ethnology from 1919 to 1923.  His papers are housed at the Smithsonian Institution.  Farmed for many years, the site was planted in a stand of yellow poplar in 1991 as part of a Forest Stewardship Plan. Investigations of the site have continued over the years, including a 2008 mapping and excavation project.  

Fairmount Neighborhood Historic District

Containing nearly 500 buildings in Bristol, Tennessee, the Fairmount Neighborhood Historic District represents a variety of architectural styles dating from the 1890s to the 1950s.  The majority of the properties at this Sullivan County site are houses, with styles including Queen Anne, Colonial Revival, bungalow and Minimal Traditional. Soon after the King family’s land was divided in 1877, the first houses were built and building in the neighborhood continued until the 1960s. 

Originally planned to attract wealthy homebuilders, features like trolleys, a hotel and green spaces were part of the development.  As the surrounding area transitioned to a more industrial, economic base in the first half of the twentieth century, Fairmount increasingly became home to a working-class population.  The changing demographics present a good example of urban and suburban development in Bristol and this is reflected in the architecture.

First Congregational Church

Built in Chattanooga in 1905, the First Congregational Church is a noteworthy example of the late Gothic Revival style in the city.  The church building was designed by Chattanooga architects George Adams and Charles Bearden.  Large stained glass windows with Gothic Revival tracery and a brick, narthex tower are primary design features of the church.  Local contractors L.C. Alston and A.J. Johnson supervised the laborers working on the building – most of them African American. 

With the site close to the street on a well-traveled corner and surrounded by commercial buildings, the church is a visible reminder not only of the Gothic Revival but also of the social history of the surrounding African-American community.  The church building served as a religious and community center for the neighborhood for many years.  First Congregational Church’s congregation disbanded in 2001.  The building stood vacant until the current owners purchased it in 2006 and began rehabilitating it for use as an events venue.

Long Rock Methodist Episcopal Church, South

The circa 1886 church is a one-story brick building located near Huntingdon in Carroll County.  Built by local carpenter Hezekiah James Wilcox, the building’s segmental arch windows, main entry and corbelled brickwork, are examples of Italianate detailing.  Inside, elegant but simple details include the chancel railing, wainscoting and paneled wood of the pews.

Since its construction in 1886, the church has served as a community center in this rural part of Carroll County.  In addition to church services, it has been used for community singing, homecomings and other annual events, local meetings and circuit church events.  In 1957, a classroom addition was added to the back of the original church but no other substantial changes have occurred.  Three cemeteries associated with the church are included in the nomination, as is the long rock that gave the church its name.

Memorial Stadium

The stadium was built in Johnson City around 1933 to 1935 as a project of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.  Since that time, Memorial Stadium has been a central part of the city’s recreation department.  Many high school football games, collegiate games and practice games have been held on the field.  The National Register nomination states that “the facility serves as a reminder of the changes in the construction of public venues from small and intimate community-based facilities to the larger commercialized facilities of today.” 

The sunken bowl of the field and concrete stands make for a more personal, sports-watching experience than occurs in larger modern stadiums.  An interesting and important feature outside the stadium is the Spirit of the American Doughboy statue.  Designed and built to honor WWI veterans, the statue was later rededicated to include servicemen from other conflicts.

Ridgedale Methodist Episcopal Church

The late Gothic Revival-style Ridgedale Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed in 1925 at the base of Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga.  Principal design elements of the church building include the arched stained glass windows, engaged buttresses, steeply pitched roof and dark stained wood interior trim. 

The Chattanooga Times reported that the new church could seat 500 in the auditorium and balcony, had dark woodwork, cream-colored walls, natural gum pews and brass lighting.  Costing $85,000 to build, the church was not officially dedicated until 1939 when the construction debt was paid.  In 1953, as the congregation was growing, a three-story brick education annex was added to the building.  Declining membership resulted in the sale of the church to an American Pentecostal congregation in 1994.  In 1996, the First Baptist Church of Bozentown purchased the building and they continue to worship there.

Varsity Theatre

Located in Martin, the Varsity Theatre was completed and opened to the public in 1949.  Designed by the Clarksville architectural firm, Speight and Hibbs, the building is important for its Art Deco and Art Moderne styling.  It features the characteristic streamlined appearance of Art Moderne designs, such as the rounded edges and horizontal lines on the exterior. Art Moderne elements are carried over to the interior of the building, where there also are Art Deco features – such as the lighting and wall decor. 

Considered the premier theater in Martin and Weakley County when it opened, it was built for the Ruffin Amusement Company of Covington, Tennessee.  Named in honor of Martin’s University of Tennessee College (now the University of Tennessee – Martin), the air-conditioned, 1,000-seat theater was opened with great fanfare, including broadcasting the opening ceremonies on the radio. After being used as a church and years of vacancy, the building has reopened for use as a fitness center and physical therapy clinic.

Woman’s Club of Nashville

Constructed circa 1927 for John Beauregard Daniel, the Classical Revival house in Nashville is 2.5 stories, constructed of hollow-tile blocks and faced with stucco.  The most prominent feature of the house is the one-bay, two-story pedimented portico with Corinthian columns. Multi-light windows, a gabled roof with wide eaves and parapet walls on the side elevations are other character defining features. 

Classical Revival interior elements include marble fireplaces, original wood doors and moldings, tiled bathrooms and the main stairway.  The building is important as an example of twentieth century Classical Revival design in Nashville. Used as the headquarters of the Woman’s Club of Nashville since 1957, an addition was placed at the rear of the building in 1977 and the kitchen has been remodeled, with no substantial changes to the building. 

For more information about the National Register of Historic Places or the Tennessee Historical Commission, please visit the Web site at www.tn.gov/environment/hist.


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