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Apply before June 1 for free Center for Historic P...

Apply before June 1 for free Center for Historic Preservation help

Tennesseans interested in preserving their local heritage now have an easier way to request help from MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation.

CHP logo webThe center has streamlined the application process for its professional services partnerships, which enable local governments, state agencies, nonprofit organizations and community groups to save their local history with the help of the CHP’s professional staff and graduate research assistants at no cost.

“It’s just a little bit more formal and a little bit more streamlined so that we have a specific date at which people can come to us,” said Dr. Antoinette van Zelm, the center’s assistant director.

Projects of particular interest to the center include those that can be completed within one year; address a significant historic property, event or issue; are located within a 300-mile radius of MTSU; demonstrate community need; and demonstrate the sponsor’s commitment of time, effort and support.

Dr. Antoinette Van Zelm

Dr. Antoinette Van Zelm

The 300-mile radius includes almost all of Tennessee as well as cities as far east as Asheville, North Carolina; as far west as St. Louis, Missouri; as far north as Indianapolis, Indiana; and as far south as Troy, Alabama.

Projects that have benefitted from CHP partnerships include the Gem Theatre in Etowah, Tennessee, and the West Bemis Rosenwald School in Jackson, Tennessee.

The Etowah Arts Commission obtained the CHP’s help in restoring Gem Theatre, a 1927 vintage “picture palace,” to its former glory. The facility is now used as a community arts center.

The West Bemis Rosenwald School is believed to be the oldest Rosenwald School still standing in Tennessee. It is one of many schools built by Julius Rosenwald, co-founder of the Sears & Roebuck Co., to educate African-Americans. The former school is now a community center.

The deadline to apply for a partnership is Thursday, June 1. Applicants should submit:

  • A cover letter.
  • A one-page description of past projects with the CHP, if any.
  • A detailed description of the proposed project, with images as necessary, not to exceed five pages.
  • A full description of the community need, the number of people the group hopes to reach and the types of support provided by the applicant and its partners, not to exceed three pages.
  • At least three letters of support from government officials, property owners or other stakeholders.

CHP faculty and staff may visit the proposed project in June or July. Partnerships will be announced Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Applications may be emailed as PDFs to histpres@mtsu.edu or printed and mailed to the Center for Historic Preservation, Box 80, MTSU, Murfreesboro, TN 37132.

For more information, contact van Zelm at antoinette.vanzelm@mtsu.edu or programs manager Lydia Simpson at lydia.simpson@mtsu.edu. Both can be reached at 615-898-2947.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

The historic Gem Theatre in Etowah, Tennessee, built in 1927, now serves as a community arts center after it was restored with the help of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation. (Photos courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation)

The historic Gem Theatre in Etowah, Tennessee, built in 1927, now serves as a community arts center after it was restored with the help of the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation. (Photos courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation)

The West Bemis Rosenwald School in Jackson, Tennessee, built in 1916 to serve African-American students, stands tall after its supporters worked with the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation on a heritage preservation plan. (Photo courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation)

The West Bemis Rosenwald School in Jackson, Tennessee, built in 1916 to serve African-American students, stands tall after its supporters worked with the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation on a heritage preservation plan.

Alumni of the Sitka School in Gibson County, Tennessee, pose in front of the building with Amanda Barry, back row left, a Center for Historic Preservation graduate research assistant, in this 2016 file photo. The alumni and neighbors provided information to help preserve the school’s history, built near Milan in 1942 to serve African-American students and now serving as a community park.


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