Higginbotham Turnpike added to National Register of Historic Places

Six other sites also added to register

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission (THC), the state agency that is designated as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), today announced the addition of seven properties to the National Register of Historic Places. They include two bridges, an industrial building, historic district, school, historic road and church. Van Buren and Warren counties’ Higginbotham Turnpike was one of the seven properties added.

 “Tennessee has a tremendous inheritance of important historic places that are highlighted by the diversity of these recent National Register listings,” said State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director Patrick McIntyre. 

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

Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian Church (Jasper – Marion County) 

Located about 3 miles from Jasper in the Sequatchie Valley, the church building has seen few architectural changes since its construction in 1914. One of the most distinguishing features on the outside are the double-hung stained glass windows that show elements of the Gothic Revival style in the tracery that forms pointed arches. Also important are the historic weatherboard siding, hipped roof with exposed rafters and paneled entry door. Wood wainscoting and wood pews with decorative side walls are historic features on the interior. Marion County has several notable rural churches that are listed in the national Register. These include the circa 1853 Primitive Baptist Church of Sweeten’s Cove, circa 1875 McKendree Methodist Church and circa 1892 Whitwell Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian Church is a fine addition to this list.

Dixie Mercerizing Company (Chattanooga – Hamilton County) 

The 6 historic resources that comprise the Dixie Mercerizing Company were built between circa 1920 and 1951. These are the 1920-1925 Art Deco influenced mercerizing mill building, circa 1920 boiler building with smokestack, circa 1951 Mid-Century Modern headquarters building, circa 1948 mutual risk building, circa 1920 water tower and circa 1920 storage shed. All the buildings have been updated over the years as the company went from cotton yarn to synthetics. The buildings represent good examples of industrial buildings in Chattanooga. Yarn mercerizing to improve the strength of fibers took place at this site, while the spinning was done in nearby Lupton City. Lupton City was named for John T. Lupton, Chattanooga businessman, and president of the Dixie Mercerizing in 1921. The company began operating in late 1920 and eventually became one of the larger industries in the city, which was known as a hub for industry.  

Downtown Chattanooga Historic District (Chattanooga – Hamilton County)

Of the 71 resources included in the Downtown Chattanooga Historic District, 13 were already individually listed in the National Register for their importance in the architectural and commercial development of the city. The new district provides a more comprehensive picture of the magnitude of Chattanooga’s architectural and commercial history. Chattanooga was a major center for businesses from the late 19th to the mid-20thcentury. Architectural styles in the district range from Italianate, Beaux Arts, Art Deco, and various revival styles to include modern styles of Moderne and Brutalism. The district was the core area for banking, retail, hotels, government and general office use. Like many cities in the post-WWII era, Chattanooga experienced a loss of businesses as companies moved to the suburbs. In recent decades, the city has transformed itself into a vibrant commercial area with a resurgence of new building and adaptation for historic buildings.

Arch Bridge (Olive Hill – Hardin County)

Designed in 1925 by the Tennessee State Highway Department (now TDOT), the Arch Bridge in Hardin County is a closed spandrel, single arch concrete bridge over Indian Creek. When the bridge was built, the road was part of State Route 15/US 64, but when the route was realigned in 1964, it became a county road. V.W. Clanton completed the bridge construction by March 1926. Noteworthy features of the bridge are the spindled railing and bush-hammered panels. These features were typical of bridges designed by the highway department in the early 20th century but are rarely seen on later concrete bridge designs. The Arch Bridge was considered significant as an example of a closed spandrel concrete arch bridge as part of TDOT’s historic bridge survey. It is a local landmark.

Sulphur Fork Bridge (Adams – Montgomery and Robertson Counties)

The 1890 Sulphur Fork Bridge is the third bridge at this once well-traveled crossing on what was the Old Clarksville Springfield Road. Located in northeast Montgomery County at the Robertson County line, over the Sulphur Fork Creek, both counties paid for the bridge.  Built by the Converse Bridge Company, it is a pin connected, iron Pratt through truss that sits on masonry piers. Concrete deck girders on concrete piers were added in 1955. William H. Converse started the Converse Bridge Company in Chattanooga and the Sulphur Fork Bridge is one of the first bridges he constructed.  The Pratt truss was invented by Thomas Pratt in 1844 and was an economical choice since it required less metal that other forms. The Sulphur Fork Bridge was considered significant as an example of a truss bridge as part of TDOT’s historic bridge survey. In 1990, a new bridge was erected nearby, and this bridge was taken out of service for vehicles. It is now a pedestrian bridge in Port Royal State Park.

Ward School (Hartsville – Trousdale County) 

The Ward School served Hartsville’s African American students from its opening in 1948 until 1966 with its last graduating class. Located outside of the downtown commercial area, the school is in a historic African American neighborhood and was the only school building in Trousdale County for African American high school students. The building symbolizes the patterns of school segregation prevalent during the Jim Crow era, while trying to provide educational opportunities for the African American community. The H-shaped, one-story-with-basement, concrete block building has metal frame multi-pane windows. When it opened, the school included classrooms, workshop, library, cafeteria, restrooms, offices and a gym. In addition to its primary use for education, the Ward School was used as a meeting space for public activities, examples being the May Day celebration and concerts. 

Higginbotham Turnpike (Spencer – Van Buren and Warren Counties)

The Higginbotham Turnpike is part of the 1838 Trail of Tears when the federal government forcibly removed Native Americans from their ancestral homes in the southeast. The Trail of Tears encompassed several routes for the removal of Native Americans. This 4.7-mile segment was part of the Northern Removal Route where 9 detachments comprising about 10,000 people were sent to the west. Higginbotham Turnpike is near the Rocky River Crossing and Road, another important site associated with the Trail of Tears.

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 SHPO administers the program in Tennessee.  

For more information or copies of the nominations contact Rebecca Schmitt at Rebecca.schmitt@tn.gov . Visit http://tnhistoricalcommission.org to find out more about our programs. 

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