​Sewanee Village Green: What, Why, How

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

“The village green is the most important part of the village,” said Scott Parker, principal for the Charleston, S.C., based firm Design Works. Charged with creating a conceptual design for the Sewanee Village Green, Parker met with community members at the November Sewanee Village update meetings.

The Sewanee Village Plan assigns a half-acre site to the green at the present location of the Sewanee Market.

“The location is absolutely right,” Parker said. “It will connect the two sides of the village. How the space is designed and what’s happening there speaks to who you are as a community, both the history and how you see yourself in the future.”

Parker acknowledged the importance of tourism, and not just for businesses. “More exposure is better for the University.”

How do towns attract visitors? “When people travel, they’re looking for something unique,” Parker said. “Focus on your own community,” he advised. “What is your brand?”

Resident and business owner Ed Hawkins suggested, “capitalizing on Sewanee’s history,” things like All Saints’ Chapel and The Cross.

“Sewanee is a community of self-reliant people,” said resident Anita Colley. “The community farm has been going on forever. People make candles, goat cheese. Highlight the crafts people.”

Hawkins observed the craft people were “spread out” over a large area. Hawkins suggested a shuttle and emphasized the need for a tourist information facility.

“People need to know the green is the place to go to find out things,” Parker stressed.

The discussion about lighting reinforced the often expressed importance of preserving Sewanee’s “dark sky.”

Resident and business owner Susan Holmes suggested motion activated sidewalk lighting.

“Lighting is critical,” Parker agreed. “Everything should work for pedestrians. That should be the guiding principal.”

In response to a suggestion that the village needed to be “subtly different” from main campus, that the buildings did not need to be stone for example, Parker observed. “The University is the lead story here. The village should pick up on some aspect of the college.”

Parker championed the idea of routing traffic through town via University Avenue to help connect the campus and village.

Addressing safety concerns about the green which will border Highway 41A, Parker said, “It’s important to be able to look down into the green from the highway, but there needs to be some sort of edge so kids aren’t going out into the street. We’re working on that.”

Parker recommended movable tables and chairs on the green that “can be arranged” according to people’s needs and whims. He cited a similar project where movable furniture jumpstarted activity.

“Does the village green need a name?” asked Frank Gladu who oversees the Sewanee Village initiative.

Parker proposed considering “something that speaks to the history of the place.”

“The green is [near] where the old depot was,” Hawkins said.

However, University professor and resident Chris Shelley observed, “The name ‘The Village Green’ tells people exactly what it is.”