​Historic Houses of Sewanee Exhibit


by Bailey Basham, Messenger Staff Writer
In 1874, a little ways back from the corner of North Carolina and University Avenues, sat the Gailor House. The home had four rooms upstairs and four downstairs, and the four Gailor children grew up spending summers on the Mountain. The wide front porch was perfect for spending a summer afternoon in a rocking chair with a glass of iced tea, and its gabled roofs and shuttered windows look like they jumped off the page of a storybook.
“I read that Charlotte Gailor used to say that her parents, whenever the roof leaked, would add a room instead of having the old roof repaired,” said Molly Elkins, a GIS Technician in the Landscape Analysis Lab. “True or not, the way Charlotte describes her family dynamic and the way that they lived makes me laugh, and I think that’s what makes it my favorite historic house in Sewanee.”
Despite its beauty and history, in 1991, the Gailor House was demolished to make room for Chen Hall, the residence of the Vice Chancellor.
It is the aim of the Historic Homes exhibit to keep Sewanee’s history in the forefront, according to Mary O’Neill, who is in charge of the exhibit.
“I work in archives and have tried to update and make a database of all the images of historic homes in Sewanee,” she said. “I’ve been working on that for over a year, trying to document the year each home was built and who lived or lives there. I’ve been working with the Sewanee Trust for Historic Preservation, and they’ve been quite involved with this.”
The Historic Homes exhibit is scheduled for Feb. 4 and will run until the end of July at University Archives and Special Collections. An opening reception and talk on Thursday, Feb. 7, at 5:30 p.m. will feature Elkins, who organized a driving tour of the historic homes, along with homeowners Bran and Cindy Potter, Virginia Craighill and Nancy Cortner. Posters are for sale, and an opportunity to order a historical plaque for homes on the Domain will be available at the opening.
The Historic Houses tour includes one main route through central campus, and two much shorter alternative routes. Presentations on Feb. 7 will feature an interactive map of houses that are still standing, and those razed or burned, along with links to Omeka, a database which showcases more images and text about each house.
O’Neill said there are upwards of 75 homes in Sewanee with some historical significance. She hopes the work on the exhibit will provide to the community a look at what life may have been like in previous Sewanees.
“Each historic home has a rich and unique history, and once burned down or razed, these stories often become forgotten,” Elkins said. “And these homes are more than just about architecture—each home was a representation of the person or family that lived there. I think the best part about this exhibit is that you get to see what was important in the lives of the previous owners of the house, what they valued, what brought them to the Mountain and what might have ultimately made them leave.”
Normal exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, from 1–5 p.m. The University Archives and Special Collections is located between duPont Library and the Police Department. Parking is available on Georgia Avenue.

Interactive map is available http://lalsewanee.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webappviewe...

Suggested driving tour available https://lalsewanee.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapTour/in...