Singer Jason Eskridge will perform at the fifth annual AngelFest on Friday, Sept. 25, in the Angel Park in Sewanee. Family-friendly activities will begin at 4:30 p.m.; this year’s plans include face-painting, inflatables, hands-on building projects and wild animal presentations.
Eskridge and his band will begin at 7:30 p.m. He is a native of Tennessee and is known for his soul-acoustic-folk music. Later this year Eskridge will be touring with the Zac Brown Band.
AngelFest is organized and sponsored by Joseph’s Remodeling Solutions. For the full schedule of event activities, go to <www.sewaneeangelfest.blogspot.com>. The Angel Park and Pavilion were created by the Sewanee Business Alliance, which is committed to developing the downtown area as a center for families, businesses and nonprofits to enjoy the lifestyle Sewanee offers and to build relationships throughout the community.
by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
A flock of chimney swifts sweep the sky above the chess board as dusk approaches—occasionally one of them darts into the Lemon Fair’s chimney.
A flock of chimney swifts sweep the sky above the chess board as dusk approaches—occasionally one of them darts into the Lemon Fair’s chimney.
Freddy Saussy watches the swifts’ frenzy as his opponent, Charles Whitmer, studies the three-foot high chess pieces and ponders his strategy.
Big chess, with oversized plastic pieces weighted with sand bags that sometimes require two hands to move, is an event that occurs every Wednesday evening at Angel Park in Sewanee. The set belongs to Charles, who has a vision of Sewanee becoming “the destination for big chess” in the world. He imagines big chess boards at different points on the Domain.
“That is a mighty exposed king there,” Charles chides Freddy after a series of moves. “But he’s got space. I like space,” Freddy laughs. “That’s the only rationale I can come up with to why he’s exposed there.”
Charles discovered the big chess set at an antiques store in Cowan, and it called to him, not unlike the “needful things” from Stephen King’s novel. “I had an ‘I’ve got to have that’ feeling stronger than I’ve had in a long time,” Charles says. “I thought, ‘If they want my kidney they can have it, or I can pawn my (wedding) ring.’”
Later, Charles’ parents tell him about a picture of when Charles was 3 years old, hugging a giant queen chess piece in Finland. “Apparently this (fascination) has been buried deep in my psyche for 40 years,” he says.
Charles didn’t offer any vital organs or the symbol of his vows to his wife Kelly Whitmer, a Sewanee history professor. He did strike a deal to make payments on the set and a few months later he hauled it up the Mountain in the back of his pickup truck. While parked on University Avenue, a couple of log cabin assemblers from Kentucky took an interest and started pulling the pieces out of the truck.
“Can we play with these?” they asked when Charles returned to his truck.
“I was just planning on taking it home and playing in the backyard,” Charles recalls. “Then some kid started showing them how to play.” Thus, Wednesday evening big chess was born.
Stephen Carter, a local handyman, climbs the steps to Angel Park to watch the Saussy–Whitmer match. He tells them they’ve got the board set up all wrong, “white always on right and the Queen takes her color.”
A little later, Tom Phelps stops by the match. He is a Sewanee resident and a physician in Tullahoma who is a sleep disorder specialist.
“Chess is really good because the brain can relax for a moment while it’s working,” Tom comments.
Freddy started strong and a handful of Charles’ captured pieces sit along the Angel Park wall, but now Charles is coming back and decorates his side of the wall with two white pawns and a rook.
“Big chess has sort of a “Wee!” factor that’s missing from regular chess,” Charles says.
The knights waiting patiently all have goofy grins on their faces, maybe because Charles complains that the grease from the hamburger he’s eating makes it hard to move the pieces.
Freddy totes a captured pawn with two hands and walks it from the board to the wall of death. A donation jar also perches on the wall, stuffed with greenbacks that Charles hopes will eventually grow to be enough to purchase a 5-foot-tall community chess set.
Tom has left, but Susan Holmes of Sewanee arrives with her two black Labrador retrievers on leashes. One of the puppies runs around the board and its leash hits a rook but the stately castle barely budges. Susan asks Charles if he’ll watch the dogs while she places an order at the Blue Chair across the street. With one black lab in his arms, and Carter watching the other puppy, Charles needs help.
“Can you kill your own guy for me?” he asks Freddy. Freddy captures his own pawn.
Darkness has fallen. Someone utters checkmate and Freddy is finally victorious. He also wins the next match. A small knot of brew-bolstered onlookers have gathered; Freddy and theology student Paul Schutz play to a stalemate.
With the hour late, the small but hearty team of men load big chess back into Charles’ truck. Any resolutions or revenge matches will have to wait until next Wednesday, when Angel Park hosts another clash between two armies.
September 3, 2015 | Angel Park, Crosswalks, Downtown Planning, Parks |||amp; Playgrounds, Roundabout, Sewanee Community Council, Trustee Community Relations Committee, Village
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
Joe David McBee, Franklin County highway commissioner, told the Sewanee Community Council that the new crosswalks and lights in downtown area are “a trial” at their meeting on Aug. 31.
“The crosswalks are a trial, but we hope they will be permanent,” McBee said. McBee attended the meeting to address the concerns in response to the two crosswalks and the solar warning lights installed in mid-July, one on University Avenue at the Blue Chair and Angel Park, and the other on Ball Park Road next to the Senior Citizens’ Center. The push-button style crosswalk warning lights were installed after traffic flow studies and two years of research by the Franklin County Highway Commission, McBee said.
On behalf of the Sewanee Business Alliance, council member Theresa Shackelford brought the need for a crosswalk in the Angel Park area to the council’s attention in June of 2014. Police Chief Marie Eldridge concurred, saying street-side parking posed hazards for pedestrians. After considering options, the council voted to approve a raised crosswalk and asked Eldridge to communicate the request to the highway commission.
The installation of the crosswalks and their accompanying warning lights came as a surprise to the council and the community when they were installed in July.
“Council members were at a loss to explain [to constituents] where the crosswalks came from and why,” Vice-Chancellor John McCardell said.
McBee said the Highway Department rejected the request for a raised crosswalk due to the difficulty of snow removal and the hazard to bicyclists. Stressing the need for the crosswalks, McBee said research and traffic flow studies showed motorists did not stop for pedestrians in these two locations, street-side parking often made it impossible to see children crossing, and motorists tended to speed in the area. The highway commission chose not to include an audible warning device on the crosswalks because of possible disturbance to people dining outside.
McBee said other options were considered, but the discussion and decision-making process did not take place at the public highway commission meetings.
“We want to be involved in discussions before decisions are made,” McCardell said, echoing the frustration of many council members. McBee agreed and said, “I think communication should be better.”
Highway superintendent Johnny Woodall brought to the council’s attention that many crosswalks in Sewanee were not marked with the regulation signage and had not been approved by the Highway Commission.
In 1969, the Franklin County Commission designated all roads in Sewanee as county roads, McBee said, making the county responsible for their maintenance. All signage, crosswalks and other highway markings must meet county regulations and be approved by the county. The county does not maintain and regulate roads in the incorporated communities of Cowan, Decherd and Winchester, McBee said.
Forty-eight community members have contacted McBee about the crosswalks, with only eight residents raising strong objections, he said. Some parents expressed concern the button was too high for small children to reach. State guidelines determine the height, McBee said, and smaller children should be accompanied by adults. Similarly, the button height meets compliance guidelines for ease of use by people in wheelchairs.
Council representative Barbara Schlichting asked if a “smaller, less obtrusive” design was an option, voicing a frequently overheard community complaint.
Woodall replied signage needed to be at least 30 inches by 30 inches to meet state statutes, and there were also concerns about motorists colliding with and destroying less sturdy signs.
McCardell asked for details about how long the crosswalk trial period would last, what was being tested and on what basis would it be evaluated.
McBee said a one-year trial was planned, and he intended to revisit the issue with the council in a year to determine the community’s response.
“I don’t think anyone objects to the crosswalks,” McCardell said. “It’s an aesthetic discussion.”
McCardell encouraged residents to communicate their views through their council representatives and to the Sewanee Mountain Messenger. “This is the beginning rather than the end of a public discussion,” he said.
In other business, the council voted to appoint Pam Byerly and Dennis Meeks as Lease Committee representatives.
Responding to a question about the traffic roundabout proposed for the intersection of University Avenue and Highway 41A, Michael Gardner, director of physical plant services, said plans were “heading away from a roundabout to a simplified intersection. The state wants to keep traffic moving.” Although referred to as Highway 41A, the main highway passing through Sewanee is actually State Route 15, so it is subject to state regulation.
Schlichting reminded council representatives of the meeting with the Trustees Community Relations Committee on Oct. 14 and encouraged council representatives to be in communication with constituents so they could convey any community concerns. A community meet and greet will follow.
The council meets next on Oct. 19.
Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC), planning consultants working with the University of the South, held a series of open design workshops Aug. 10–13 to develop a plan for the Sewanee downtown area. TPUDC has been charged with finalizing a downtown master plan and overseeing design and development. They expect to have the development plan completed by the end of the year.
Two previous studies, the Sewanee Village Vision Plan (2012) and the Sewanee Village Action Plan (2014), were intended to gather ideas and demonstrate what might be possible downtown. The TPUDC plan will acknowledge and integrate existing features and infrastructure (streets, leaseholds, drainage areas, etc.) and move toward implementation.
The sessions were well-attended, with about 65 residents at the opening presentation describing the process, dozens attending separate sessions on topics such as pedestrian and bike connectivity, and more than 80 residents at the closing presentation of findings. In addition, the design studio was open each day for visitors to watch the process and ask questions. Rather than using a committee or focus groups, the process was public; there will be opportunities for additional input and feedback before the plan is finalized.
Brian Wright and other team members from TPUDC have spent time in Sewanee for several months, learning the landscape, meeting residents and beginning conversations with public utilities and state agencies.
Some of the concerns and elements that were emphasized by residents during the week included noise and light pollution, parking, sustainability, biking and hiking options, and a mix of housing types. These will be considerations as the downtown master plan is refined. Highlights of the well-received preliminary plan include “civilizing” and narrowing Highway 41A to two lanes (without the previously planned roundabout), new leaseholds and neighborhoods, a “town commons” park across the highway from Shenanigans, and both a bike lane and a parking lane on University Avenue.
The final plan will emphasize walkability, integration of the campus community, increased housing options at a variety of income levels, and improved streetscape and architecture. The plan will serve as a road map for future development in the downtown district.
University to Host Master Plan Workshop :: Sewanee Downtown District Final Master Plan Workshop will be Aug. 10–13
The University of the South, working with planning consultants Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative (TPUDC), will host a public design workshop Aug. 10–13, with the purpose of developing a final Master Plan and Implementation Strategy for the Sewanee downtown area. TPUDC has been hired as the University’s town planner and charged with finalizing the Master Plan, overseeing design and development in the Village, and implementing the action items developed in two previous studies, the Sewanee Village Vision Plan (2012) and the Sewanee Village Action Plan (2014).
The multi-day visioning and design workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 10, in Lower Cravens Hall, with an opening session and public presentation on the process. [See full schedule at right.] The workshop will conclude at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 13, when the team will describe the preliminary plan for the area, explain elements of the plan, show illustrations and present findings and work products developed during the workshop. Throughout the workshop, a design studio will be open in Lower Cravens for community members to contribute their ideas.
Brian Wright of TPUDC visited Sewanee in March 2015, when he and Becky Timmons met with various University and neighborhood groups and conducted an open town meeting to gain an understanding of how residents, students and visitors view the downtown area and what they envision for its future. During their three days in Sewanee, they gained an in-depth understanding of what makes Sewanee unique and special. The workshop set for August will be a time for TPUDC’s team of planners and designers to continue this planning process.
During the August workshop, TPUDC will work with the public and the University to develop a plan that meets the goals of the Vision Plan and Action Plan, including a more vibrant downtown area that attracts increased investment and mixed-use development at a village scale. The Master Plan will emphasize walkability, integration of the campus community, increased housing options at a variety of income levels, and improved streetscape and architecture. Following the workshop, the consultant will refine the master plan that will be used as the road map for future development in the downtown district.
For additional information email <email@example.com>.
The University Lease Committee has endorsed the hiring of a town planner to help implement the 2014 Sewanee Village Action Plan. Brian Wright, founder and principal of Town Planning and Urban Design Collaborative, LLC, is expected to be hired as the planner on the project.
In a letter to leaseholders on June 2, University Provost John Swallow said the key project of Wright’s work will be “enabling the village to become a cohesive, organized set of properties that creates opportunities for infill and public realm improvements.”
As a way to help with this process, the University will extend the leases for locations set to expire in the next few years, so that there is time “to allow for the appropriate determination of planning, policies and boundaries for successor leaseholds,” Swallow said.
The Lease Committee will ask Wright to submit a plan for development of the village area, including the development of housing for the community. The plan will also include standards for building siting and construction for residential and commercial leaseholds. After the plan is reviewed, the committee expects it will guide leaseholders and developers who desire to make changes to leaseholds.
“The months to come will be exciting ones,” Swallow said, “We should see the development of guidelines for improvements to the village area, as well as the encouragement of developers and others who wish to assist us in the construction of residential housing.”
September 18, 2014 | Bobtown, Downtown Planning, Sewanee Business Alliance, Sewanee Civic Assocation, Trustee Community Relations Committee, Village
Drawing more people to Sewanee’s downtown area, attracting more residents to live in the “Village,” and integrating the University’s activities and students more fully into the community—these are some of the goals of the Sewanee Village Action Plan, a new study commissioned by the University. The plan was presented to the community on Sept. 15 at St. Mark’s Community Center.
More than 115 people gathered to hear from Frank Gladu, the University’s vice president for administrative services, who described this effort as a way to create and sustain a “vibrant downtown” in Sewanee. He then introduced Kevin Petersen from the architectural planning firm Ayers Saint Gross (ASG), who explained the study.
Workshops, an electronic survey, focus groups and community meetings all helped ASG refine and focus the action plan. The consultants met with community groups, members of the Sewanee Business Alliance, students and University stakeholders.
Petersen described how this study built on the work of the Campus Master Plan and Strategic Plan (2011 and 2012) and the Sewanee Village Vision & Program Plan (2012).
The Sewanee Village Action Plan was presented in three sections: goals, vision and action projects (see page 6 for full list of objectives). After Petersen’s presentation, he and Gladu answered questions from the assembled group.
One person encouraged clear lines of communication between the University and the people who live adjacent to the affected areas. “We need a formal mechanism for communication,” the man suggested. Gladu agreed.
Another community member asked if the environmental impacts of the various proposals had been considered. Petersen and Gladu reminded the group that this step was “visioning” only, and any future work would require a greater specificity of planning and research.
“We would not want to lose sight of sustainability,” Gladu said, “as it is one of the University’s key goals.”
Numerous residents from the Bobtown community raised concerns about the impact of the proposed plans on their neighborhood; some cited the recent leveling of the “yellow house” as an example of poor communication between them and the University.
Other questions inquired about the impact of new traffic patterns on the Sewanee Elementary School; how new streets or pathways would be created; and how residents could participate in future planning.
“The dynamics of the next steps are not yet determined,” Gladu said. “We will have more meetings like this and more dialogue. There will be town meetings and work with the University’s Trustee Community Relations Committee,” as well as consultation with the Sewanee Business Alliance and the Sewanee Civic Association.
The full report is available online at <http://provost.sewanee.edu/plans/sewanee-village-action-plan>; for more information contact Gladu at <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
In the survey, community members expressed strong interest in the following additions or improvements: open source WiFi, a general store/pharmacy/grocery; benches; bike lanes; multi-use plans; and a new community center.
An overview of the Sewanee Village Action Plan will be presented at 4:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 15, at the St. Mark’s Community Center. The St. Mark’s Center is located at 454 Alabama Ave., Sewanee.
Kevin Petersen, the planning architect from Ayers Saint Gross who led this study, will present the report and answer questions related to the action plan. All are welcome.
Petersen’s report describes the process Ayers Saint Gross has used this way:
“A highly integrated process engaging a wide range of stakeholders was central to the development of this plan. The process was oriented around three workshops, each with a different intent. During each workshop, several focus groups were convened to provide insight and comments for the plan. A steering committee of University, business and community representatives also helped guide the direction of the plan.
“The team solicited feedback from the focus groups while striving to build consensus among the various parties. This plan aims to channel numerous voices into a widely agreed-upon vision for the future of Sewanee.”
For more information contact Frank Gladu at <email@example.com>.
Friday nights in Sewanee just got better. Starting on June 20 the downtown village of Sewanee will come alive with food, drink and live music at Angel Park. University Avenue will be closed at 7 p.m. for this annual outdoor family-friendly event. Local vendors will be offering food, ice cream and beverages.
The music will begin at 7:30 p.m. each night. Bring a lawn chair or blanket to enjoy the music and conversation. Performing under the Angel Park Pavilion this year will be: June 20—Towson Engsberg & Friends; June 27—Southern Proof; July 11—Hard Times Band; and July 18—Boy Named Banjo.
For more information send an email to <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
January 30, 2014 | Community Action Committtee, Cumberland Farmer's Market, IvyWIld, South Cumberland Food Hub, Village
Keri Downing Moser, owner and chef at IvyWild in Sewanee, has been named a Rising Star by StarChefs, a magazine for culinary insiders. In its recent survey of culinary professionals in Kentucky and Tennessee, Moser was selected as one of the chefs who represents the vanguard of the contemporary American dining scene.
From Louisville to Nashville and Memphis, the StarChefs team visited chefs and artisans across eight cities and small towns, considering more than 100 candidates in Kentucky and Tennessee through in-person tastings and interviews.
“We have an amazing community of restaurants and food service professionals in Sewanee. We plan events together and promote dining in the Village,” Moser said upon learning of the award. “It is gratifying to know this award is announced nationally. I want it to draw attention to what we’re doing here. This is such an extraordinary place to live, learn, play and eat.”
In its review, StarChefs wrote: “We’ll go out on a limb. IvyWild is the best little restaurant you’ve never heard of. It’s hidden well enough in the 2,000-ish-person mountain town of Sewanee, Tennessee, but we guarantee it’s worth pulling off exit 134 for a chance to eat Chef Keri Moser’s playful, offbeat cuisine.
“Moser sees compositions in colors and landscapes, and she works backward to edit in ingredients and techniques, building her plates with improbably good and often wild flavor combinations. Moser nods occasionally to the region’s Southern foodways—and supports them wholeheartedly as a champion of local farmers—but her food reflects a deep curiosity, an artistic bent, and a creative streak that’s unencumbered by the culinary establishment or her small-town status. She’s defining her own path, one that more chefs should dare to follow,” the review concluded.
StarChefs wrote that the dishes that “clinched it” for them were: Smoked Salmon, Cracked Wheat and Black Barley, Elberton Blue Cheese, Tomatillos, Romanesco and Chamomile-Lemon Aïoli; and Pork Shoulder, Pickled Peaches, Cornbread, Foie Gras Butter and Sorghum Vinaigrette.
Moser said, “Food is so much more than sustenance—it can be an experience, it’s exciting, it’s art, it’s community (both in and outside the restaurant) and I want to share that.” Chefs identified as Rising Stars “have strong, compelling culinary philosophies, are able to see beyond the four walls of their restaurant, and are committed to fostering a culinary community by sharing their knowledge with fellow professionals,” according to StarChef editors. “Ultimately, creativity, ambition, exquisite presentation and, most important, delicious food wins a chef the designation of StarChefs Rising Star. They are the future of American cuisine.”
“It is extremely important to me to know as much as possible about the ingredients I use to feed my friends, family and community,” Moser said. “Having a personal relationship with the farmers and food artisans makes that possible. The Cumberland Farmers’ Market and South Cumberland Food Hub are a key part of our success—they help provide optimum conditions for the farmers to succeed. Helping in the effort to make sure my community and IvyWild have access to a premium, responsible food supply is a critical goal.”
The Community Action Committee is one of Moser’s favorite food-related charities. She said, “Sewanee is a little bubble of privilege in a deeply depressed area. The CAC works to make sure there is food available for people who need it, whether that’s through boxes of groceries or organizing community meals. We host some of the community meals at IvyWild.”
IvyWild opened in 2010 in the building that once housed the old steam laundry at 36 Ball Park Road. It is open Thursday through Sunday evenings.
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Jan. 27 meeting of the Sewanee Community Council, University Vice-Chancellor John McCardell announced that this meeting marked the 50th anniversary of the council. The council posed for an anniversary photograph.
At the Dec. 2, 2013, meeting of the council, they approved renewal of the current garbage collection contract with Joe B. Long through June 2015.
The current contract for garbage collection expires on June 30. Anticipating the expiration of the contract, Barbara Schlichting, superintendent of leases, conducted a preliminary review of garbage collection and related issues. Schlichting said more information was needed in order to prepare a request for proposals (RFP) and invite bids. “Glass recycling costs $4,000 over what the glass makes,” she said by way of illustration.
Schlichting recommended the council extend the current contract for one or two years to allow time for research. Schlichting said Long agreed to a one- or two-year extension without a rate increase. The current monthly rate for residential pickup is $23.25.
Council representative Chet Seigmund said he knew of several contractors who were interested in bidding on garbage collection services in Sewanee.
Acknowledging that time was needed for research, the council approved extending the contract with Long for one year with the stipulation the Lease Office prepare a RFP by January 2015.
Reporting on the plans to revitalize the downtown area, Frank Gladu, the vice president of administrative services, said the University would be working with the architectural firm Ayers Saint Gross this spring to create the next steps in the process, building on research and community input acquired over the past few years. Three workshops are planned.
The next meeting of the council is Feb. 24.
September 26, 2013 | Deer Cull, Retirement Community, Roundabout, Sewanee Community Council, Village
by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Sept. 23 meeting of the Sewanee Community Council, the council heard updates on the proposed roundabout, the retirement community survey and the upcoming deer cull. The Council also approved changes to the constitution and bylaws.
Frank Gladu, vice president for administrative services at the University, presented an overview of the roundabout proposed for the Highway 41-A intersection in downtown Sewanee. Vehicles would navigate the roundabout in a counter-clockwise directions. Gladu stressed that roundabouts increase pedestrian safety because pedestrians only need to watch for traffic from one direction and because traffic travels slower, typically about 15 mph. The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) must approve the project. TDOT has reviewed the design, Gladu said, and they “seem receptive.” TDOT suggested state or federal funding might be available. The Council voted to endorse the roundabout project to emphasize community support.
Gladu also reported on the Retirement Community Survey conducted by the market research firm ProMatura to determine if Sewanee could support a retirement community on campus. Eight groups who potentially have interest in a Sewanee retirement community were invited to participate in the survey. Twenty percent of those receiving questionnaires have responded so far, Gladu said. (ProMatura said a 7–10 percent response rate was typical.) The survey included questions about the type of residences preferred, such as homes compared to various apartment arrangements. Three possible campus locations have been identified. The survey closes on Sept. 30. To request a questionnaire call (800) 201-1483.
Among the factors to be considered is whether Sewanee could sustain a retirement community, Gladu said. He cited the statistics that the average age of individuals entering a retirement community was 84, and the average stay was two years, meaning on average there is a high turnover rate.
University Domain Manager Nate Wilson updated the council on this year’s deer cull plans. Statistics show a 25 percent drop in the deer population since this time last year, Wilson said, and a 40 percent drop in the past two years, but the population reduction is “not evenly distributed.” To address this, the cull will target herds that frequent certain locations, a strategy first used in 2012. The full schedule of deer cull dates and times and zone boundaries will be published in the Messenger. [See page 6 for the pre-cull hunt information and zone map.]
In the past, meeting minutes were taken by the council member elected secretary. To allow full participation of the members in discussion, meeting minutes are now taken by a non-council member. To reflect the change in procedure, the council voted to remove references to the secretary from the constitution and add the following sentence to the bylaws: “A secretary designated by the council will take minutes.”
The next meeting of the Sewanee Community Council is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 28.
February 2, 2013 | Village
by Pagie Wilson C’14, Messenger Intern
“Sewanee is a crossroads,” according to Irene and Richard Emory, owners of the new Crossroads Café that features Singapore cuisine.
“Singapore is a crossroads, too,” Irene said, describing one of the places where she and Richard have lived.
Many Asian countries, including China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and the Philippines, shape the food and culture in Singapore. Crossroads Café incorporates these influences in its food as well as in its décor, combining furniture and artwork that Richard and Irene have collected.
The Emorys want Crossroads Café to become a comfortable meeting place with accessible food.
"People enjoy being here so much, they just stay on,” Irene said. “That’s what we want.” They designed Crossroads Café with an open and inviting atmosphere to accommodate this. Irene and Richard believe that building relationships with their customers is just as important as the food.
“Food is a celebration, and it should be shared with others,” Irene said.
Crossroads Café is bringing different flavors to the Mountain, but Irene said she is paying close attention to the wants and taste buds of the local community. Irene cycles through different recipes to better understand her customers by learning what dishes they like and dislike. This allows her to bring out the traditional Singapore taste without having to strip her recipes of traditional ingredients, and she encourages customers to tell her what they like.
“We understand that it is important to make the food affordable and we want the Sewanee Community to enjoy our food,” said Irene. “We are very blessed to be in a small community that is kind, accommodating and patient.
Irene’s menu items are derived from recipes her family would use to cook for festivals and events in Singapore. While some of the ingredients have been difficult to find, Irene has been able to work with area farmers to obtain many ingredients.
Irene and Richard have traveled and lived around the world since 1999, moving eight times and living in six different countries for Richard’s job as an architect.
Settling in Sewanee for their son’s education at St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School and to be close to Richard’s family in Knoxville, Irene and Richard have both put their talents to work by opening Crossroads Café.
Crossroads Café is open 11 a.m.–8 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and is located at 38 Ball Park Rd., Sewanee, adjacent to IvyWild.
Join with friends and family this afternoon, Nov. 30, when Sewanee lights its Christmas Tree in the Sewanee Angel Park and ushers in the holidays on the Mountain with music and fun.
The festivities will begin at 4:30 p.m. Bonnie and John McCardell will do the honors of turning on the lights.
To help families in need in Sewanee, participants are encouraged to bring unwrapped toys for Operation NOEL, which will be collected by members of the Sewanee Fire Department for distribution on Christmas Eve. Also, gifts of money and nonperishable food will be collected for the Community Action Committee (CAC).
The Sewanee Chorale will lead Christmas carols. Refreshments will be served, and Santa Claus will be available for pictures with the children. Bring your own camera.
This event is organized and sponsored by the Sewanee Business Alliance. Organizers hope that this celebration can be a new holiday tradition in Sewanee.
In case of inclement weather for the tree lighting, refreshments and Santa will be hosted by Locals, across the street from Angel Park in the Sewanee Village.
By K.G. Beavers, Messenger Staff Writer
In the Sewanee Village, one can always tell what season it is by looking to Taylor’s Mercantile. During the spring and summer, the front yard of the business is abloom with color and houseplants and bedding plants. During the fall, the landscape changes inside and out to oranges, yellows and browns. There are all sorts of flowers, tablescapes and rugs to decorate a home.
And, it is the start of the holiday season when Ken Taylor decorates his store for his annual open house, which is Saturday, Nov. 3, and Sunday, Nov. 4.
People come near and far for the open house, which is now in its 28th year.
“For years I was told that I could not start decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. So during the Thanksgiving weekends we would spend countless hours decorating. Then somebody well-respected in the retail business told me I needed to start getting the holiday merchandise out early,” said Taylor.
For many, the open house is the highlight of their holiday tradition. “People from all over come to the store. Some come to just purchase a few items and some to just get decorating ideas. For most, coming to Taylor’s during the holiday season is the beginning of their holiday tradition,” said Taylor.
“Some come for the Santas. Some come for flowers. Some come for holiday tableware. Then there are a few who without fail come and purchase their nutcrackers every year from us,” said Taylor. “This is the highlight of their holiday.”
This year, each retail business in the Village will take part in the open house. “It is neat that everyone wants to be involved,” said Taylor.
Taylor’s Mercantile began on January 1, 1984, when he and his mother, Evelyn, bought the old hardware store owned by Jeanette and Bill Hamilton. The building was previously Brooks General Merchandise. The original building burned in 1918, and the building was completely rebuilt in 1921.
“When we purchased the building, the back half of the store was still filled with the hardware inventory,” said Taylor. “In the front of the store, I had purchased an old Coca-Cola cooler and filled it with flowers. We went to the markets in Chattanooga with about $1,000, and purchased merchandise to fill in the front part of the store.
“Obviously, I have purchased more items than that throughout the years,” said Taylor.
The hardware part of the store lasted another 10 years at Taylor’s. As big box stores replaced the smaller hardware stores, Taylor moved to offering what he liked best: unique gifts and flowers.
He did not always want to be a shop owner. As a graduate student, he was accepted to medical school at Vanderbilt. “I dropped out because I was not passionate about it. I have found that this store is my passion.”
After purchasing the building, he and his mother both continued to work at the Sewanee hospital. “We took turns running the store.” That hard work and dedication have paid off. “We have worked to grow our business into the exceptional, not just the ordinary,” said Taylor.
In addition to the seasonal gifts, weddings and party decorating, Taylor is also known for his work in the annual greening of All Saints’ Chapel during Lessons and Carols weekend. He started this in 1982.
“Now, the greening has grown into a huge event, with 100 –150 people helping to decorate All Saints’.” He and his wife, Lynn, still wait until the last minute to decorate the lectern and pulpit with fresh flowers and greenery themselves. He continues to volunteer his time for this annual event because “it is the right thing to do for the community. The community makes Taylor’s my favorite part of being in business. You get to share good news with people, such as their weddings or other special occasions,” said Taylor.
“And, we always hear how we have made their day special,” he said.
On Saturday, Oct. 20, the downtown village will transform itself for the Second Annual Sewanee Angel Festival, hosted by the Sewanee Business Alliance. There will be food, drink, dancing and crafts for folks of all ages at the Angel Park.
Ashley Cleveland will open the festival at 7 p.m. She is a three-time Grammy and two-time Dove Award winner who has released eight critically acclaimed albums. “God Don’t Never Change,” her most recent effort (2009), features songs rooted in a “host of traditions: black spirituals, folks songs, 18th-century hymns, gospel blues and jubilee.” The Austin American-Statesman called it, “One of the best rock n’ roll albums of the year.” Taking the stage after Cleveland will be Towson Engsberg & Friends, a talented local blues and cover band.
There will be booths offering food, drink and information (see related story on page 9). Among the local offerings will be items from the Blue Chair Café & Tavern, Sewanee Sweets and Julia’s. Members of the Sewanee Arts & Crafts Association will also be displaying their work. The Sewanee Business Alliance has also commissioned a limited quantity of printed Hatch Show Print posters for the festival. They will be for sale, along with bricks and T-shirts, during the Angel Festival. Proceeds from these items benefit the park.
The Angel Park is being built by donations from local businesses and community members. So far, $60,000 has been raised and another $40,000 is needed to fully fund this new and exciting venue. Personalized bricks will be available for purchase during the festival.
“We are expecting hundreds of people to attend this event” said John Goodman, Sewanee Business Alliance president. “We could not produce such high quality music without the support of more than 25 local sponsors this year.”
Goodson encourages folks to bring a chair or blanket, enjoy the park, listen to incredible music, enjoy great food and drink, and savor the fall weather. The festival is free to the public.