The Grand Opening for the much anticipated Taylor Spring Park will take place on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at 285 First St., the site of the park.
The Taylor Spring Park is a joint effort between the City of Cleveland, Bradley County and private donors brought together through the efforts of the Community Foundation – to celebrate and preserve the history of Cleveland and Bradley County.
Taylor Spring is said to be the reason people settled in what is now Cleveland. Andrew Taylor (born about 1797) is regarded as the “first citizen” of Cleveland. Through his marriage to Jennie Bigby, a member of the Cherokee nation, Mr. Taylor obtained the right to claim any land that was not previously occupied within the boundaries of the territory. He chose to settle on 160 acres in what is now Bradley County at the intersection of two major trade routes. The choice of location was advantageous to Mr. Taylor not only for its commercial potential as a trading post, but also because of its proximity to several water sources, one of which is the spring that will be a centerpiece of the park.
According to local history, Andrew Taylor built a log cabin in 1835 near a spring. Legislative action in 1836 created Bradley County and also authorized the establishment of a county seat. That town was to be named “Cleveland” in honor of Col. Benjamin Cleveland. “Taylor’s Place,” which included Andrew Taylor’s home as well as the beautiful spring, was chosen as the location of the county seat because of the excellent water source available.
Later buildings were erected over the original spring, so that its existence faded to city folklore. The spring had been under a building on First Street that had served as a law office in one side and a dry cleaners in the other side. The late James Webb donated the law office side and the City of Cleveland purchased the dry cleaners side. The City demolished the building to uncover the spring.
To bring the importance of this historic site to the forefront, the Cleveland City Council created a committee of citizens with an interest in local history and downtown to develop a plan for a small park on the site. They include City Municipal Judge Richard Banks, City Historian Bob George, business and community leader Jeff Morelock, business leader and philanthropist Allan Jones and Public Works Director Tommy Myers.
The downtown park is marked by a stone and iron entrance and features a replica of the 12’x12’ round log spring house that would have been found at the site during Andrew Taylor’s occupation of the property. This Spring House is an exact replica built on information obtained from an 1836 property assessment discovered by researcher Debbie Moore during work on the book “The 1836 Cherokee Nation Property Evaluations.” The restoration of the underground spring showcases the crystal clear spring water and a retaining wall provides architectural interest as well as structural enhancement. Landscaping and greenspace provide a beautiful setting for visitors to enjoy.
Through the Community Foundation public dollars from the City of Cleveland and from Bradley County and private dollars from local donors came together to celebrate and preserve this historical legacy for the community. A large granite medallion is embedded in the sidewalk at the entrance to the park to permanently recognize major donors along with engraved benches, tree markers and engraved bricks to recognize other donors who helped to provide funding for the park. The Bradley County Master Gardeners have created a garden to promote and educate the community on pollinator protection.
The Spring House was donated by Janie & Allan Jones and their children: Courtney Jones Pendergrass, Abby Jones, Will Jones, Bailey Jones and Granddaughter Gincy Pendergrass.
The Daughters of the American Revolution provided a matching grant to assist with the signage for the historical park with the wording compiled by Cleveland Historian Bob George. The basis of that history came from the book “Andrew Taylor: Man of Mystery" written by genealogist, researcher and author, Michael Slaughter.
The City of Cleveland staff lead by City Manager Joe Fivas and including Public Works Director Tommy Myers, City Engineer Brian Beck and Forestry Director Dan Hartman did an "incredible job designing and developing the beautiful park," officials said.