Status of Clayborn Temple changed from ‘local’ to ‘national significance’


The Tennessee Historical Commission yesterday announced the addition of Blount County’s Vose School, Morgan County’s Tanner Store and Shelby County’s Wildwood Farms to the National Register of Historic Places. The Commission also announced Clayborn Temple in Memphis will now be designated as a place of ‘national significance.’


“These additions to the National Register of Historic Places are a testament to Tennessee’s diverse heritage,” said Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer Patrick McIntyre. “The school, store, farm, and church are part of our unique past and are worthy of being recognized on this prestigious list. I am especially pleased that Clayborn Temple has received the national recognition it deserves for its place in the history of the Civil Rights Movement.”

The sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places are:


Vose School (Alcoa–Blount County)


Construction of the Vose School began in 1916 and the school was open by 1918. It was constructed by the Babcock Lumber Company, a Pittsburgh-based lumber company that was the first modern industry in the county. Babcock was in Maryville in 1907, about three years before the better-known Alcoa/Aluminum Company of America. In 1916 the company bought 350 acres of land and established the Vose neighborhood. The one-story school with its Craftsman influenced design was a central part of the community and served as a school until 1964. The design of the building reflects plan book schoolhouse design of the early twentieth century. This is seen in the large expanse of windows and separate rooms for different grades. The Vose School is important for its architecture and for its use as a school in Alcoa.


Tanner Store (Wartburg – Morgan County)


Located near the courthouse square in Wartburg, the Tanner Store is a multi-use building that began as the Citizens Bank and Trust in 1906. In 1923, the building was enlarged to add a general store. Architecturally, the prominent features of the building on the exterior include the large windows, corner entry, ornamental brackets, and expanse of porches. The interior contains historic wood cabinets and seating. The general store has served as an important commercial and social resource in the community since its opening, while the former bank section has had several uses.  John and Maud Tanner ran the general store, which included a pharmacy and restaurant until the first half of the 20th century, when other family members took over. Today, the Tanner Store is the longest run family-owned general store in continuous operation in the county.


Wildwood Farms (Germantown – Shelby County)


The most striking historic resource on the 350-acre Wildwood Farms is the 1935 horse barn that is visible from Germantown Road. The two-story brick stable has Colonial Revival details and contains 18,000 square feet. Landscape architect Paul Mueller and horse trainer Garland Bradshaw worked with Wildwood Farms owner William L. Taylor to build the stable. Founded in 1935, the farm first trained and bred American Saddlebred horses and in 1959 changed to American Thoroughbred horses. The principal farm complex also includes a manager’s house and outbuildings, a blacksmith shop/pump house, a laundry, and a laborer’s house. The historic landscape of the property consists of field patterns, pastures, a horse track, roads, and mature trees. Wildwood Farms is still owned by one of Taylors.


The following site had its status changed from local to national significance:


Clayborn Temple (Memphis – Shelby County)


Clayborn Temple has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the Second Presbyterian Church since 1979. Built in 1892, the church was listed for its locally important Romanesque Revival design and community social services. When the African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased the building in 1949, the church was renamed Clayborn Temple. The updated documentation recognizes the national importance of Clayborn Temple in the 1968 Memphis Sanitation Strike. The church was a meeting place and training center for striking workers and supporters of the workers. This key event represents the convergence of the Civil Rights movement, labor movement, and working conditions and pay for African Americans. “I am a Man” signs were printed here and notable Civil Rights leaders, such as Martin Luther King, spoke at the church.


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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