CARTHAGE – A historic train depot saved from demolition, and a public park that surrounds a natural landmark. Two Upper Cumberland non-profit groups received grants this week from the Tennessee Arts Commission for such “Creative Placemaking” efforts, funds totaling $10,650.
Only 12 grants were awarded overall; six went to rural applicants. In Creative Placemaking, partners “strategically shape the physical and social character of their town or city around arts and cultural activities or assets,” TCA said.
The Smith County Chamber of Commerce received $5,800 for its Carthage Junction Depot redevelopment project, which will remake the historic but endangered structure into a multi-purpose space for local artists to display their work. The chamber will also preserve the history of rail in Smith County with a museum as well as an exhibition dedicated to war veterans who set out from the original depot. The remodeled space is also slated to include an Internet café and kayak/bike rental space.
The depot was relocated from Gordonsville to South Carthage in October 2014, essentially saving it from demolition. Restoration has also included a new foundation, roof and other items.
Also in the UC, the Macon County Arts Council received $4,850 for the Winding Stairs Park development project. A new 35-acre public park has developed around the Winding Stairs, considered a natural landmark in Lafayette, and this grant will fund the integration of art into the design through a logo, signage, paintings, a sculpture and a mural. The park opened in June and features woods, hillsides, bluffs, natural springs and a deeply entrenched stream gorge. Erosion from the stream has created small drops with the vertical walls of the bordering cherry limestone, creating the Winding Stairs.
The art at Winding Stairs project will include creations by school children and local artists throughout its implementation.
These grants, which totaled $75,000, TCA officials said, “offer the unique opportunity for communities to enhance its unique assets and strengthen economic vitality, livability and growth.”
“The projects awarded will certainly leverage the communities arts and cultural resources to help address key opportunities and challenges the community faces,” TCA Commission Chair Stephanie Conner said.