Grant Allows UT to Look at Its History, Plan for Future

Using a $150,000 preservation grant from the Getty Foundation, the University of Tennessee has been developing a historic preservation plan that includes a survey of potentially historic structures, a campus heritage tour and a campus history book.

“In many ways, the history of our campus mirrors the nation’s history,” said Tim Ezzell, director of the UT Community Partnership Center and project leader for the university’s Campus Heritage Grant program. “This site was home to a Native American settlement, it experienced the Civil War, and it has witnessed changes in civil rights, women’s rights and a host of scientific, artistic and intellectual achievements. The campus really reflects our successes and our struggles as a people, and it has a lot to teach both our students and our community.”

New this fall will be a digital walking tour of historic building exteriors. The tour will be available as a podcast that can be e-mailed to or downloaded by students, prospective students, alumni and others.

“We hope to develop and post the tour this fall,” said Ezzell. “We plan to make the tour available on the UT Web site and on iTunes. Anyone can download the walking tour.”

The project team also will invite interested persons to public planning sessions to discuss ways of preserving and protecting UT’s architectural and archaeological resources.

“We look forward to meeting with the campus community and discussing the future of these important resources,” Ezzell said. The public sessions will be scheduled for late fall or early winter.

The project began in the spring of 2006 when UT received a Campus Heritage Grant from the Getty Foundation to promote historic preservation. The Getty Foundation has funded preservation planning projects at 71 colleges and universities across the country since 2002.

The grant team began by reviewing existing UT history studies. Researchers studied collections from the Library of Congress, McClung Collection, Thompson Photography, the university’s Special Collections and the files of Milton Klein, former university historian.

From September 2006 through April 2007, the team conducted an inventory and assessment of historic sites and structures. The team identified and photographed 100 potentially significant properties.

The effort included a literature search and archival research on historic properties and trends that impacted UT from the 1870s through the 1960s. UT graduate students reviewed and scanned 250 images of historic structures.

The most important historic structures the researchers identified include the Collegiate Gothic-style buildings on “The Hill,” Morgan Circle and River Road, dating from the 1920s through the 1950s, many designed by the Knoxville firm Barber and McMurry. Also noted was the 1950s Modernist-style Hearing and Speech Center at the intersection of Phillip Fulmer Way and Peyton Manning Pass.

Four historic houses were included in the preservation inventory:

• the Classical Revival-style Tyson House at 1609 Melrose Ave., which serves as the university’s Alumni Center;
• Hopecote, an English cottage at 1820 Melrose Ave., now the university’s guest house;
• Cowan Cottage, built in the Folk Victorian-style, at 701 16th St., once part of an ornate 1880 Italianate-style estate; and
• the gabled brick structure at 1206 White Ave., which houses one of the university’s three Early Learning Centers.

Also involved in the project was the Center for Historic Preservation at Middle Tennessee State University, directed by Carroll Van West, who served as a consultant. Larry McKee, senior archaeologist with TRC Garrow and Associates Inc. in Nashville performed the archaeological assessment.

Ezzell and West are considering a book tied to the recent work. The book would be a history of campus sites and structures, with chapters contributed by campus faculty and alumni.

Those who would like to participate in community planning sessions can contact Ezzell at (865) 974-2103 or at tezzell@utk.edu. The planning sessions also will be promoted through the campus and local media.


Contacts:

Tim Ezell, (865) 974-2103, tezzell@utk.edu

Margery Bensey, (865) 974-8304, mbensey@tennessee.edu

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