​SCA Meeting Spotlights Historic Sewanee Homes

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

Following an update on the Community Chest fund drive, members and guests at the November Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) dinner meeting took a short tour into the enchanting legacy of historic Sewanee homes and, perhaps best of all, learned how to learn more.

SCA President Brandon Barry announced fundraising letters recently went out to members and past donors, urging them to contribute to the Sewanee Community Chest. Since 1908, the SCA has supported a wide array of community projects and organizations providing books, elderly care, children’s programs, recreational spaces, animal care and more.

The SCA has committed to fund 25 applicants this year and needs to raise $105,140. Send donations to P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375 or donate online by visiting www.sewaneecivic.org. See the thermometer display outside the post office to track the campaign’s progress.

Vice President Jade Barry invited nominations for the Person of the Year and Lifetime Achievement awards scheduled for presentation at the April meeting. Send nominations to <sewaneecivic@gmail.com>.

Vice President Barry also called for volunteers to step forward to serve on the SCA board. She and her husband Brandon will rotate off the board in April and Secretary Jesse Bornemann will step down to tend to a new baby.

Contact the board at the above email address to volunteer.

Vice President Barry introduced the evening’s trio of speakers, Mandy Johnson, University Archivist; Mary O’Neill, Visual Resources Librarian; and Meg Binnicker Beasley, Sewanee Trust for Historic Preservation President.

Johnson provided an overview of the Sewanee Historic Houses and Buildings exhibit curated by O’Neill. O’Neill used Charlotte Gailor’s unpublished manuscript “Old Sewanee Homes, 1865-1915,” as the basis for her research. O’Neill added to and updated the information Gailor compiled in the 1950s and 1960s. Two years of research yielded last spring’s stunning exhibit at the Archives featuring 28 homes. O’Neill has now added a digital component, which showcases more than 90 homes from the 1865-1915 era.

“Even locating a house is work,” Johnson stressed. “Houses didn’t have street numbers, streets didn’t have names, street names changed.”

Beasley noted the street leading to The Cross used to be known as University Avenue, while the street that lead to the downtown depot was called Tennessee Avenue.

O’Neill’s expanded online exhibit can be viewed at http://omeka.sewanee.edu/exhibits/show/exhibit_sew...

“Some of the houses have been burned, some torn down, while others still exist,” O’Neill said.

The online exhibit includes a color-coded interactive map www.arch.is/ji4Hz, which indicates each homes status. Clicking on the home’s icon gives the location, date of construction, the name commonly associated with the home, and a link for more information. The exhibit’s driving tour app arcg.is/1a9Pna offers similar data accompanied by audio.

O’Neill thanked Sallie Green and the Lease Office for help with compiling information and Chris Van de Ven (GIS Department) and Molly Elkins, C’18, for help with creating the interactive map and driving tour app. Melissa Williams and Dan Backlund contributed the audio for the driving tour. O’Neill also thanked the many Sewanee residents who provided information about their homes.

“The people who lived in these homes were store owners, tailors, tinsmiths, artists and teachers,” O’Neill said offering historical background.

STHP cosponsored the exhibit. Beasley praised O’Neill’s work as “valuable for generations to come.”