Eight Tennessee Sites Added to the National Register of Historic Places

Thursday, January 9, 2014

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. 

“The National Register honors places that help Tennesseans understand our heritage and make our communities unique and enjoyable,” Executive Director of the Tennessee Historical Commission Patrick McIntyre said. “We are confident this recognition will help retain these unique sites for future generations to know and appreciate.”

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

 Beaty General Merchandise Store – The James Beaty General Merchandise store was built in 1924 in Grimsley on State Highway 28, a major thoroughfare in Fentress County. The one-story building was originally sheathed in wood, but the front was bricked in the 1950s. The large storefront windows and single door into the building are characteristic of this community general store. Dry goods, general merchandise, a post office and sandwich area are some of the uses of the store in the early to mid-20th century; gasoline pumps used to sit in front of the store. The south shed roof extension was the feed store, an important use of the building in the farming community. The Beaty store was the commercial, social and economic center of Grimsley.

Crockett Tavern Museum – The Hamblen County Chapter of the Association for Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) planned and developed the Crockett Tavern and Museum in Morristown under the guidance of two local individuals, Sarah Dougherty and Rev. Jhoner Simonton. Completed in 1958, the museum is a mid-20th century interpretation of the Crockett family’s pioneer life during their time in Hamblen County in the late-18th century. Morristown’s centennial celebration and the popularity of Walt Disney’s ABC programs on Davy (David) Crockett helped promote interest in building the museum. Fess Parker, who played Crockett on TV, visited Morristown in 1955 when the plan for the city’s museum complex was announced. Although city leaders initially planned for a pioneer village, only the tavern was built. The APTA has owned the Crockett Tavern Museum since it opened and has operated it as a museum for most of that time.

Greenback Depot – Before the Louisville and Nashville (L&N) Railroad completed the Greenback Depot in 1914, there was already a rail stop in the community. As the rail line expanded and the community grew, the L&N decided a depot that could handle freight and passengers would be built in Greenback in Loudon County. Characteristic of many L&N depots, the Greenback Depot is covered in horizontal and vertical boards on the exterior, has wide overhanging eaves and bays for the station manager, office spaces and waiting rooms. From 1914, when it was built, until operations stopped in 1954, the L&N Greenback Depot was the primary means of transportation to and from Greenback.

M.A. Helm House – The M.A. Helm House located near Riceville, McMinn County, is an important local example of a transitional design that includes elements of Federal and Greek Revival styles. Designed by the McMinn County building company of Cleage and Crutchfield, the circa 1850 one-and-a-half story brick house’s character defining features include paneled wood doors, plaster and heart pine interiors, jib doors, muli-light windows and molded wood trim. The wood porch on the house dates to the early 20th century. Circa 1850 potato house, brick smoke house and spring house still stand on the 50-acre property, as well as several 20th century outbuildings. Helm was a well-known businessman in nearby Athens. He lived in this house until he sold it in 1874.

 Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church – The one-and-a-half story Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church in Sevier County was built in 1891 and added onto in 1982. The Folk Victorian church building is a locally important example of this style. Significant features of the church building include the steep pitch roof, Queen Anne decorative woodwork, large windows and belfry. Decorative woodwork includes false half-timbering and sawn wood geometric patterns. Inside, the building retains its historic wood wainscoting and tongue-and-groove wood finishes. In 1959 a double stair leading to a balcony was added and the belfry was enclosed. The one-story addition is the fellowship hall.

 Sears, Roebuck and Company Catalog Distribution Center and Retail Store – Known locally as Sears Crosstown, the 10-story Art Moderne building at the corner of Autumn and Cleveland in Memphis was built in 1927 from the designs of Chicago architect George C. Nimmons. The retail distribution center and store was an important part of Memphis’ commercial history from 1927 until the late 1960s. Sears originally focused on serving rural customers through catalog sales, but by the time the Memphis building was constructed, the company was promoting sales to urban and suburban customers. At one time, over 2,000 employees worked in the building. Retail sales began slipping in the late 1950s, so the company built a multi-story garage in 1964 to try and entice shoppers to come to the Crosstown building. Architecturally, the building is an excellent example of Art Moderne design in Memphis. The set back of the mass of the building, tall tower and stylized geometric and foliate patterns on the building are important architectural details.

Wartburg Presbyterian Church – Constructed in 1883 and located in Wartburg, the county seat of Morgan County, the Wartburg Presbyterian Church is a good example of the Folk Victorian style. During this timeframe, improved transportation and technology made it easier to have decorative details on buildings. Instead of hiring a craftsperson, decorative pieces, or the machinery to make them, could be ordered and shipped in by rail. The resulting Folk Victorian style combines elements from many academic styles of the mid-to-late 19th century. Sawn or turned woodwork was generally applied to a rectangular building in the Folk Victorian style and this is seen in the Wartburg church building. The trefoil designs in the windows and front of the Wartburg church and narrow tower represent the Gothic Revival style, while the large multi-light windows are more reflective of the Queen Anne style. The church is covered with weatherboard on the exterior and uses wood bead board inside. The 1937 chandeliers are original to the building and add to the overall historic architectural character of the building.

Westmoreland Water Wheel and Gatepost – Charles Barber of the architectural firm of Barber and McMurray designed the 1923 wheelhouse and 1925 gatepost for Knoxville’s Westmoreland Heights Subdivision. The subdivision was incorporated in 1923 and the next two years were spent subdividing the land. Landscaping around the water wheel and gatepost, as well as the subdivision, was provided by Knoxville landscape architect Charles F. Lester. The structures not only were an enticing entry to the new subdivision, the Fitz overshot water wheel provided water and electricity to residents until city utilities were available. East Tennessee marble, wood, slate and iron are the materials used in the construction of the Tudor Revival structures. Edward Manning, an early resident of the area, is credited with the idea of building the water wheel.

 Links to each of the completed nomination forms can be found in the site descriptions listed above. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places or the Tennessee Historical Commission, please visit the website at www.tn.gov/environment/history.


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