Close to home

I got a real shock when I read a new post  over at the fantastic Posterity Project blog today.  The Tennessee Preservation Trust has released its list of the state’s most endangered sites, and one of them is the Graham-Kivette House in Tazewell.  This ca. 1810 home is by far the oldest house in the area, and it’s just a stone’s throw from the house where I grew up.

In fact, I have some vivid personal memories of the place.  I think its last owner was John Kivette, who was Claiborne County’s historian and a good friend of my dad’s.  When I was a kid I used to sit in one of the house’s downstairs rooms, underneath one of those massive fireplace mantels, while the two of them pored over archival material and chatted about local history and the Civil War.  I’ve driven past the house thousands of times since then.  I’ll probably be doing so again tonight.

Whenever these “most threatened” lists come out I always read them with a sort of vague, general concern.  When it’s a place you know firsthand, it’s more like a punch to the stomach.  I knew the house was a significant local landmark, but I had no idea I’d ever see it on a statewide list, or that it was in such precarious shape.

I’ve always said that all history is “local history” for somebody.  It turns out “somebody” includes me, too.

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1 Comment

Filed under Historic Preservation, Museums and Historic Sites, Tennessee History

One response to “Close to home

  1. Thanks for the mention of this article and for bringing attention to the endangered list through your blog. It’s truly distressing to see how these historic sites have come into disrepair. I believe that increased funding, greater outreach beyond the community of historians and local history buffs, and a willingness to act are all necessary to keep these sites off the endangered list. Claiborne County officials should be aware of this and should be willing to act to preserve their history. The following web site lists the County Mayor’s contact information as well as County, State and Congressional representatives. I’d encourage residents of Claiborne County and anyone else who believes that the past is worth preserving to contact these individuals and make your voice heard:

    http://www.tennesseeanytime.org/local/claiborne.html

    Thanks,

    Gordon Belt
    http://www.posterityproject.com

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