South Central Tennessee History Ride - Saturday

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by AlabamaCowboy, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    I’ve been thinking for awhile that it would be interesting to do a little ride and combine my interest in riding, history, the South and the Episcopal Church and so I spent some time planning my route with all of the above in mind.

    My plan is to start out bright and early Saturday morning from my home base (Huntsville, Alabama ) and home church, The Church of the Nativity in downtown Huntsville and do my best to visit historic churches in Pulaski, Columbia, Spring Hill, Franklin, Nashville, Murfreesboro, Tullahoma, Winchester and Fayeteville all in one day ! Of course I hope to see other historic points of interest along the way, but there won’t be much time to linger.

    The Church of the Nativity is located in the Twickenham Historic District in downtown Huntsville on the corner of Greene and Eustis Avenue about a block from the courthouse square and is one of three or four beautiful historic churches all located within a few blocks of one another. (If you are interested, check out First Methodist Church on the corner of Greene and Randolph, The Church of Christ on Randolph and First Prebsysterian on the corner of Gates and Lincoln Street.)

    The Church of Nativity is a beautiful Gothic Revival style brick structure built in 1859 to replace the original building built next door in 1847 and was inspired when in 1856 Henry Lay; the Priest, visited Mobile and saw the construction of the Trinity Episcopal Church designed by Frank Wills and Henry Dudley. The current structure was built in the Gothic Revival style and completed in 1859. It is noted as one of the most pristine examples of Ecclesiastical Gothic Architecture in the South and is one of the least altered structures by Architect Frank Wills and one of only thirteen surviving houses of worship designed by him in the United States. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1990 and is currently undergoing a massive renovation and restoration project which includes glorious copper roofs and steeple and historically accurate interior preservation. So here are a few photos of my home church , the inspiration for my travels tomorrow....

    First an older black and white view from the 1970s I think...
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    And a few photos taken pre-ride that show the glorious copper work on the steeple and some of the roofs and scaffolding in place to finish the main roof copper work.... truly a beautiful church...
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    If all goes as hoped... I will spend the day tomorrow logging about 300 miles and stopping often in those small Southern towns to learn more about their history and particularly to learn more about historic Episcopal Churches in each of those communities.... Wish me luck... It looks like it will be a scorcher !!
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  2. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    I heard it was going to be hotter than......
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  3. CreativeStat

    CreativeStat n00b

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    Good for photography too. Let us know how it goes. I'm in Atlanta and am thinking of taking a tour tomorrow too on my new GS. Any recommendations?
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  4. ClearwaterBMW

    ClearwaterBMW The Examiner

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    a great idea for a ride report
    can't wait to read and see more
    thanks for sharing
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  5. aldntn

    aldntn Vgo

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    Looking forward to the report. One day will be a start...
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  6. southern cross

    southern cross WARDY

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    This is interesting. I do enjoy church architecture though I'm not at all religious.
    I also have an interest in the history of the South.
    I will follow you in your travels, don't forget inside shots particularly the stained leadlight windows.
    G'day from Australia

    S.C.
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  7. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    I did a loop of a little over 300 miles today....Huntsville - Ardmore - Pulaski - Columbia - Spring Hill - Franklin - Nashville - Murfreesboro - Tullahoma - Winchester - New Market - back to Huntsville .... mostly backroads but I got behind and found myself on the big highways a few times....did I mention it was HOTT ! ?

    Saw some interesting stuff... took lots of pics... no problems with the bike whatsoever.... Oh... I ride a 92 Yamaha TDM...but that will become obvious after I post a few of the pics....

    I started about 7 am and the temps were perfect.. almost cool with a mesh jacket.. but by 10:30 am... the temps were at 95 F and the highest I noticed was 98 F.....It cooled down a little by 5 and the stretch between Murfreesboro and Tullahoma was downright nice.... at least compared to what the rest of the day had been !! I spent about 12 hours on the road...and it seems like I must have stopped a hundred times to take pics .....Im sure I didnt.. it just seems that way....

    Anyway...I will edit my pics and start getting them posted asap...
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  8. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    I started out with my photos downtown... parking lot across from Church of Nativity and a few pics of two other historic churches in the area... First Methodist and Randolph Street Church of Christ.... I will the historic markers tell the story....

    Here is my TDM with the Church of Nativity's brand new gleaming copper steeple in the background..
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    And a view from the front... still under construction/renovation..
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    First Methodist just around the block...

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    Accidentally burned huh ?? :huh

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    and the Purple (albeit a bit faded) door of First Methodist

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    The Randolph Street Church of Christ.. in the same area (just across the street from First Methodist )

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  9. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    On the way out of town on Hwy 53... aka Jordan Lane.... I saw some of the horrible tornado damage from the storms we had .. what was it ? a month ago or more now..... this is just a glimpse of the damage...there is much much more ....obviously it will be a long time before these families can put their lives back together ...

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    And before too long.... as I get close to Ardmore Alabama / Tennessee... the town straddles the state line... I see this old Honky Tonk.....Ive heard rumors that back in the 70s when the drinking age in Tennessee was 18, some boys from Alabama would drive up to the Country Club for a cold beer...and occasionally end up in a fight with the locals.... or so I hear :freaky

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  10. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    On the road to Pulaski... Hwy 31... I see this historic marker as I pass an antebellum home so I turn around to investigate..

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    Apparently although privately owned (and undergoing what appears to be a complete renovation/restoration) this home is subject to a "Conservation Easement" which should guarantee that this historic home is preserved for future generations to see and enjoy...

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    The back roads through Giles County are beautiful ... farmers were hard at work raking hay in the fields that must have been mowed last week.....and there were interesting old homes everywhere you looked...
    #10
  11. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    On the road to Pulaski I saw this interesting old church that looks almost like a house... with lots of stained glass.....

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    I learned that the Methodist Episcopal South Church also known as the Southern Methodist Church, split from the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844 over the issue of slavery..... It later re-united with the Methodist Episcopal Church and then finally in 1939 with other Methodist congregations to form the United Methodist Church, which is the name we see so widely applied to modern Methodist Churches.... Not sure if this church missed the memo on the merger, decided to fly its colors and remain independent Or perhaps more likely... the church hasn't been in use since before 1939 ?


    First full stop...I visited the Episcopal Church of the Messiah in Pulaski Tennessee...built in 1887 and designed by George W. Quintard, the architect brother of Bishop Charles Quintard of Tennessee. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. As you can see a beautiful church and I was surprised to find the door open so I wandered inside....

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    And a few from the courthouse square... Giles County has a vibrant downtown that you don't see much these days....

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    More to come....
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  12. DELTATANGO

    DELTATANGO Motorcyclist and Dog Walk

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    Yes, I have heard those rumors about the 70's also. (bought it by the quart, thirsty....)
    Did you know that the town of Ardmore is in four counties and two states?
    The guy that used to run it was a former Marine. He was cool, he ran the joint with an iron fist. He had a piece of hickory behind the bar and when someone got out of line, whamo! I saw him do it. He's dead now. He rode a Hog.
    Ahhh, the good old days.
    #12
  13. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    Heading out of Pulaski towards Columbia (Tennessee) by original plan was to head out through the countryside to find the hisoric St. John Episcopal Church but somehow I missed a turn....I did however see this interesting Methodist Church along the way on Bigbyville Road.... unusual architecture....
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    Having essentially lost my way, I headed on to Columbia to visit the historic St. Peter's Episcopal Church....turned out to be a good choice...

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    I parked in the shade, but it was hot wandering around outside and not surprisingly, the front door was locked... (For readers outside the US, it is becoming increasingly rare for churches to remain open 24/7... vandalism and other problems strike churches as well.... hard to believe I know... So, it is not terribly surprising to find church doors locked)

    But, not one to give up easily I found my way to a back door that was open and walked in... I had the pleasure of meeting Glenn Perry the Organist... He welcomed me in, shared with me interesting historical insights about the church, its parishioners and the stained glass...He even played the organ for me while I took photos... Thanks Glenn !

    As you can see , St. Peter's is a beautiful church... beginning to see a theme yet ??

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    And finally...a photograph of Glenn playing the organ for me.... beautiful music in a beautiful place... Glenn explained that the brass candelbras rising from the pews were originally gas, and were later converted to electricity.... Thanks again Glenn !! Hope you see this someday...

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    Now it is time for me to backtrack but before I go, I ride around downtown Columbia and see beautiful homes and what seems like a vibrant downtown scene....
    #13
  14. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    Columbia Tennessee is the ancestral home of the 11th President of the United States of America... James K. Polk who served as President 1845-1849....

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    And here a few pics of the Maury County Courthouse and a couple of beautiful historic homes in the area...

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    The Polk Family is ever present in the area.... The Rattle and Snap Plantation 7 miles west of Columbia (I didnt have time to visit) was built for George Polk... a son of William Polk a North Carolinian appointed as Surveyor General for the Middle District of Tennessee in 1784..... not surprisingly he became one of the largest landholders in Tennessee....

    The tract upon which the plantation house stands originally amounted to nearly 5700 acres ....William Polk named the tract "Rattle and Snap" after having won the land in a game of Rattle and Snap from the Governor of North Carolina... (a game of chance played with beans)
    More info can be found here if you are interested http://www.rattleandsnapplantation.com/

    William Polk had four sons and at the place where their tracts joined they had St. John's Episcopal Church built in 1839 which leads me to one of those Polk brothers..... Leonidas Polk ... often known as "The Fighting Bishop" because he served as a General in the Confederate Army during the Civil War and served as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana.... He was killed in action during the Atlanta Campaign on June 14, 1864....
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    My next stop... St. John's Episcopal Church... was in large part his creation....
    #14
  15. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    In 1864, the Confederate Army of Tennessee marched past St. John’s Episcopal Church on its way to face Union troops at Franklin, Tennessee. General Patrick Cleburne, while passing by the church, is said to have remarked, “This is the most beautiful and peaceful spot I ever beheld . . . It is almost worth dying to be buried in such a beautiful spot.” Several days later Cleburne, along with fellow Generals H. B. Granbury and O. F. Strahl, died at the Battle of Franklin and were buried at St. John’s.
    Located in an area known as Ashwood between the towns of Columbia and Mt. Pleasant in Middle Tennessee, St. John’s Church is one of Maury County’s most treasured historical sites. Built by Leonidas Polk and his three brothers: Rufus, Lucius, and George – cousins to President James K. Polk – the church is located at a point where the brother’s estates came together. The land and material for the church was donated by the brothers and built by slaves. The pulpit, reredos, and altar rail were made from a single wild cherry tree that grew on the site. It was a plantation church meant to provide a place of worship for the Polk families, their slaves, and their neighbors.

    Construction began in 1839 and completed three years later. Bishop James Hervey Otey, the first Episcopal Bishop of Tennessee, consecrated the church on Sept. 4, 1842. Leonidas Polk served as St. John’s first rector and would later become the first Bishop of Louisiana and a general in the Confederate Army know as the ‘Fighting Bishop’.
    During the Civil War, St. John’s was used as a Confederate hospital, although it did not see many patients. Union troops briefly occupied the church and although they did not cause great damage, they did carry off the organ pipes. Behind St. John’s is the traditional churchyard burial ground where Generals Cleburne, Granbury, and Strahl were buried. Years later their remains were removed and re‑buried in other states, but their gravesites at St. John’s have never again been used.

    The first burial here was that of Rufus Polk in 1843. All but one of the Polk brothers would eventually be buried at St. John’s. It was the desire of Leonidas Polk to be buried here, but instead he was buried at Christ Cathedral in New Orleans where he served as Bishop. Resting at St. John’s are members of the Polk family, Civil War soldiers, and five Episcopal bishops. Bishops Otey, James Matthew Maxon, Theodore Nott Barth, John Vander Horst, and W. Fred Gates are buried at St. John’s. The last regular priest at St. John’s, The Rev. Richard N. Newell who died in 1887, wished to be buried as near the church as possible. His grave is located by the steps at the rear of the church.

    St. John’s continued regular services until 1915 when the congregation dwindled to just one family. Since 1921, services are held only once a year on Whitsunday – the Feast of Pentecost. After the service, a picnic is held on the grounds. St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Columbia sponsors the annual pilgrimage and oversees St. John’s today.
    St. John’s remains today much as it was during the 1800’s. There is no electricity and no running water. It still has the original furnishings, hand‑blown leaded glass windows, and the 1890 Packard reed pump organ. Also the original silver chalice used by the Polk family is once again used for the Whitsunday service.

    For 160 years, St. John’s kept a peaceful existence that not even the Civil War could betray. But the peace and serenity at St. John’s came to an end when two present day teenagers broke into the church and vandalized it in May 2001. The tragedy occurred just one week before the annual pilgrimage to St. John’s to celebrate Whitsunday.
    The church windows were broken out, the Baptismal font was damaged, and the organ that sat in the choir loft was thrown to the sanctuary floor below. Tombstones in the graveyard were toppled or destroyed. Two young men, ages 18 and 19, were arrested and charged with the destruction.

    After news of the vandalism spread, the community – regardless of denomination – turned out to help cleanup the church and make temporary repairs so that its annual service could be held. Donations came from people near and far sympathetic to the tragedy the church had suffered.

    Today the repairs at St. John’s have been completed and after two years of work the pump organ has been restored and returned to the church. The anger and grief over what happened, as well as the show of support, demonstrate the affection for the historic church. Apparently these two young men see St. John’s Church as just an old building – everyone else see it as much more.

    Mary Polk Branch described St. John's Church in 1911 with these words, "This church of many memories stands in a cemetery of seven or eight acres surrounded by a stone wall. The large oak trees and the carpet of blue grass make it a lovely spot, but the doors of the church are closed, the windows unopened, the iron-gate in front locked. . . . In the distance is heard the sound of the automobile and the roll of heavy wagons upon the pike, and we realize the brightness of the world without and the busy life which surrounds the old church with its story of the past."


    The entire article by Dan Hardison can be found here :
    http://www.ecva.org/congregations/features/st_johns_maury_county/st_johns_maurycounty.htm

    My visit to St. John's started here...

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    What a beautiful setting for a beautiful church !!

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  16. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    Riding to Franklin I came across this ... Rippaville Plantation... Seems this part of Tennessee is full of antebellum plantation homes... most of which have been restored and are in wonderful condition.... beautiful old homes...

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  17. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    By the time I arrived in Spring Hill, the temps were rising and the traffic was heavy on 31....Grace Episcopal is a small wood church in the Carpenter Gothic tradition....built about 1876 and not in the best repair (wood go figure) ... the door was locked and it was hot so I didnt linger long.... miles to go before I sleep..

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    Saw this old antebellum home just up the road from the church... really nice...
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    And as I approached the outskirts of Franklin I passed by the Battle of Franklin site(s) and wished I had more time to stop and explore.... but saw the really nice Carter House .... no time for a tour today.. but here are a few pics...

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    #17
  18. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    Arriving in Franklin I was frustrated... Main Street was closed for some event and my gps kept wanting to route me down that section of Main..so I wandered around in circles a few times before finally finding St.Paul's and I was impressed....Another beautiful church, but St. Pauls has that look of well worn age... a sort of authentic beauty that is immediately recognizable.... I could'nt help but wonder... with all the souls lost on the battlefield at Franklin... How many prayers for healing, recovery or for loss must have been offered here ?

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    This is serious history by American standards... a structure nearly 200 years old (with repairs/renovation to damage sustained during wartime) I was pleasantly surprised to find the doors open .... I noted with interested that instead of kneeling benches for prayer, there were dozens of small red leather kneeling cushions beneath all the pews... The stained glass panels by Louis Comfort Tiffany were beautiful [This church and many of the churches I visited have full time indoor and outdoor video surveillance lest anyone out there have larceny in their heart ]

    I hope you enjoy the photographs of perhaps the most beautiful church I visited during my travels today...

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    #18
  19. AlabamaCowboy

    AlabamaCowboy Been here awhile

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    From Franklin I headed to Nashville, hoping to visit Christ Church Cathedral....... known as a Cathedral by the Episcopal Church because it is the seat of the Bishop of the Diocese.. In this case Central Tennessee..... traffic was horrible from Franklin all the way in to Nashville and a stop at Trader Joes for Ginger Cat Cookies didn't help..... sadly by the time I arrived at 900 Broadway, the parking lot was empty and the doors were locked....So all I have to show for my visit are exterior photographs....

    If you are interested in seeing more, you can visit the Christ Church Cathedral website here: http://www.christcathedral.org/
    There are some amazing photographs of the beautiful interior and stained glass.... I hope to make it back someday soon so I can see for myself...

    Here are a few exterior pics...and a couple of Honky Tonk row on my way out of town....

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    Saw this huge construction site back behind the hockey arena..south of Broadway...What is it ? or will it be rather ??

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    #19
  20. AST236

    AST236 Long timer

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    Great RR and I'm diggin' that TDM.

    I have family in Huntsville. Maybe I can get up there this summer and check out some of your riding area.
    #20