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VOL. 42 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 10, 2018

Travellers Rest added to National Register of Historic Places

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Nashville's Travellers Rest is one of four Tennessee sites added today to the National Register of Historic Places, the Tennessee Historical Commission announced.

“Tennessee’s unique heritage is exemplified by these recent National Register nominations. Ranging from a late 18th century residence to a Mid-Century Modern commercial building, the listed properties depict the diversity of the state’s history,” says Patrick McIntyre, executive director and state historic preservation officer.

Travellers Rest was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1969 for its statewide importance in early settlement, particularly for the property being the home of Judge John Overton, a significant figure in Tennessee’s history.

In January 2018, an expanded nomination became the first nomination in the state to include all four National Register criteria – events, person, architecture, archaeology.

Event. In 1864 the house was the headquarters of Confederate General John Bell Hood during the Battle of Nashville and the grounds were used as an encampment for Confederate troops.

Person. The updated documentation clarified Overton’s importance as a political leader due to his work as a federal revenue commissioner, Indian agent, judge and recorder of Tennessee’s laws.

Architecture. The house was constructed in 1799 and added onto for nearly 100 years. The two-story weatherboarded building is a fine example of a Federal style house with an 1828 Greek Revival expansion. This updating and expanding of the house reflects the prosperity of Travellers Rest as it moved from the early settlement period of the state into a plantation.

Archaeology. Travellers Rest also has importance as an archaeological site. The property includes prehistoric and historic/non-aboriginal remains that continue to reveal critical information about the early history and prehistory of the area.

The other three sites in Tennessee are:

Tullahoma Municipal Building

The opening of Arnold Engineering Development Center outside of Tullahoma in 1951 resulted in ancillary businesses moving into Tullahoma, with a resulting increase in population and the need for more city services.

In 1954 the city constructed a Mid-Century Modern municipal building to house city offices and the offices of the Tullahoma Power System. The steel frame structure of the building is sheathed in Georgia marble and brick with many sizable windows on the public facades. The Chattanooga firm of Bianculli, Palm and Purnell was chosen to design the building.

Mario Bianculli was a widely-known architect who had worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority. His firm was familiar with designing multi-use government buildings like the one planned for Tullahoma. The building served as the center for government and electric power until 1977, when the power company outgrew its space and relocated.

Carverdale Farms in Jackson County

The 210-acres of Carverdale Farms include the main farmhouse, barns, a store, cemetery, church, two secondary houses and assorted outbuildings. Although settled in the early 19th-century as seen in a circa 1830 log building, this and other buildings were adapted for re-use during later the 19th- and 20th-centuries. In 1890 the farm was sold to Samuel Carver who continued to maintain the self-sustaining nature of the agricultural enterprise.

The main farmhouse was begun in 1850 and the Carver family continued to live in, update and renovate the house through the early 1960s. Samuel Carver’s great grandson, Joe Moore, continued the family’s agrarian heritage and was awarded the Star Farmer of America by the Future Farmers of America in 1955 for his leadership in agriculture. On October 24, 1955, Moore and the farm were the front cover of Time magazine, further recognizing the prominence of Carverdale Farms.

National Trust Life Insurance Company Building in Memphis

The National Trust Life Insurance Company was started in 1931 by Alvin Wunderlich, Sr. as a burial insurance company. By the time the current building was completed in 1963 the company had expanded into an important commercial business that included both burial and life insurance; they had also expanded their market outside of Memphis.

The unique design of the building was by Memphis architect Charles Jen of Martin and Jen. Set on a raised plaza, the 5-story building was constructed using a variety of materials such as concrete, marble, metal and glass. Rooms had their own controlled heating and cooling capabilities, which was unusual in the city at that time.

A special 5-zone system counteracted for the sun heating elevations during the summers and windows had a defrost system for the winter. Today the building is awaiting redevelopment.

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, as the State Historic Preservation Office, administers the program in Tennessee.

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