South Pittsburg Historic Preservation Society, Inc.
The rich history of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, like most small towns and cities in America, has led to the establishment of numerous non-profit organizations by local citizenry wishing to preserve the heritage and history directly associated with their individual communities. In many cases these organizations/groups are formed to preserve a single historic structure, which is threatened due to neglect or new development. Such was the case in South Pittsburg, Tennessee and a historic downtown theater.
In this small Marion County town, an old theater building known as the “Princess” was in serious disrepair and threatened with being razed. The impending doom of this important part of the city’s heritage prompted many concerned citizens to push the local government into developing a plan to save the historic structure.
In 1999, City of South Pittsburg officials, realizing the history of the theater building, acquired ownership and appointed a commission to oversee its restoration and seek workable solutions to bring the theater back to its former grandeur as a place of civic interest. Shortly afterwards, the commission met and begun to devise a plan for saving the dilapidated theater building.
Over the last 17 years the commission has evolved into an independent non-profit organization known as the South Pittsburg Historic Preservation Society, Inc. During this time the preservation group, with close ties to the city government, has completely rebuilt/restored the Princess Theatre, for which our group was first organized. Our group has also restored the Chapel on the Hill, which we rent out for weddings and the events and we in recent years have opened a museum dedicated to our local history.
One project that helps generate funds for our projects is a cookbook compiled by the Society. In a working partnership with Lodge Manufacturing Company who retails the book, the Society receives a commission from its sales.
Another successful Society fund-raiser is the reprint of an 1899 South Pittsburg Hustler newspaper. This project served every purpose for which this organization was first founded. It not only preserved a part of the local history in the reprint itself, but it preserved for posterity a record of some current events, retail advertisements, articles and pictures that were added to the reprint in a supplement section. In addition to the Society’s annual “Trash and Treasure” sale, it also generates additional funds for the Society’s projects through its sales of four South Pittsburg picture post cards we published.
The volunteer member Society has adopted other projects, which include having much of the downtown district including the theater and a large portion of the residential district placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This thrust along with the restoration of old Primitive Baptist Church building, known today as the “Chapel on the Hill” has sparked new interest in the preservation of the city’s rich heritage for future generations.
The Society invites every person interested in preserving South Pittsburg’s historical resources to join with them in a team effort to complete the ongoing projects and adopt new ones. It is said that: “In order to know where you are going you must first know where you have been.” The Society believes that preservation of the city’s historic resources will educate the city’s youth about local history and show how the reuse of historic buildings can play an important part of the city’s future.
We, the members of the South Pittsburg Historical Preservation Society, Inc., would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our preservation efforts. Without your support, we would not accomplish our goals of giving our future generations the opportunity to see first hand the fruits of labor from generations long since past. Let us continue to work together towards a common goal of preserving our city’s rich heritage; for it is up to us all to pass the city’s torch to the next generation along with its heirlooms.
Meetings: First Tuesday of each month
Time: 6:00 p.m. Central Standard Time
Place: South Pittsburg Heritage Museum
Location: 316 S. Cedar Avenue, South Pittsburg, TN 37380.
Bob Hookey - Chairman - 1-423-837-8714
Carolyn Millhiser - Secretary - 1-423-837-8327
Dennis Lambert - Historian/Website - 1-256-608-8274
Everyone is invited! Come help us preserve our city's history!