- This time on Tennessee Crossroads we explore a symbol of 19th century southern prosperity in Murfreesboro. Then we discover the venue and mission of the cafe at Thistle Farms. We'll visit a Victorian B&B in the heart of Bell Buckle. And meet a Chattanooga artist who likes to share his ancient art form. Those are the stories we want to share with you. I'm Joe Elmore, welcome to Tennessee Crossroads. Without a doubt the way people live can tell us a lot about the era in which they lived. That's why a lot of historic homes are spared from the wrecking ball, renovated and open to the public. One of the best places to get a glimpse of history in the 1800s is a place called Oaklands Mansion in Murfreesboro. Rob Wilds paid a recent visit. - [Rob] First looks at the Oaklands can send your mind back to a different time when this place would have been a true example of a mansion offering a glance into how a wealthy Murfreesboro family might have lived. Mary Beth Nevills is the Education Director here and she says the place would have been the model of modernity. - Built in 1818-1815 time period, the land was inherited by Sally Murfree. Her father was Colonel Hardy Murfree, who Murfreesboro is named for, and she and her husband, Dr. James Maney, moved here from Murfreesboro, North Carolina and established Oaklands and it's been through four owners through the years, sat vacant and then was saved by ten ladies from the wrecking ball and that was in the late 1950s. - [Rob] There was some rough times for the mansion. Basically abandoned, allowed to fall into disrepair and about to become a victim of urban expansion. - [Mary Beth] There's housing directly behind us that had already been built and they sat vacant for a while. Was purchased by a realtor and then the realtor sold it to the city. And so the plan was to tear it down and continue the houses that are located behind us and the bulldozers were actually parked in the front yard getting ready to do it and a lady drove through the driveway and saw it and rallied her friends and ten of them went to the city and the city sold it to them for a dollar with a stipulation that they would have it open for tours. - Well, thank you for coming here. My name is Joe Maloney. I've been a tour guide here for little over three years. - [Rob] The tours promised by those ladies go on to this day. This group came from Mount Juliet to see the house and to find out about the changes it has undergone and how life was lived within these walls. - We are in 1818. We are in the original house. - [Mary Beth] When you are here for a guided tour, you have someone who is going to take you through and tell you all about not only the house but the family and the time period. - And they built themselves a master bedroom. - [Mary Beth] Relative to our area and our region and they're going to help you understand and experience a step back in time and a different era for the city of Murfreesboro in the middle of Tennessee. - Once you've finished in the house, you're still not finished here at Oaklands because the grounds are a big part of the experience. It depends on the weather and the time of year but there's no telling what you'll see out here. - We have grounds and gardens tours that we like to add throughout the year. We also have our Free Day in May every year where we open the house up for free and have additional activities on the grounds. Not only games and programs for children but also vintage baseball, anything else that we can add in that's fun. The fall, it's beautiful with the trees. We do have Flashlight Nights at Halloween where we spook the house up for Halloween and people can explore the grounds and the house with their flashlights. And then, of course, at Christmastime the mansion is beautiful also. - [Rob] There is a hall on the property that's home to meetings and unique exhibits like this one which features wedding dresses loaned by local ladies. - This is interesting. This is a Chinese wedding of an American girl and in China the wedding dresses are red. - [Rob] And this was from 19- - [Arlene] 20. - [Rob] 1920? Oh my goodness. - [Arlene] It's 100 years old this year. - [Rob] Wow. And this would be your grandmother? - This was my grandmother's. - [Rob] Arlene Timmes has lived in Murfreesboro for quite a while and always appreciated the Oaklands and so was tickled to share some of her family's history with the people who come here. - I have my grandmother's and they were married in 1920 and I have my mother's and they were married in 1946 and then I have mine, 1974 and my 2002. But the wedding dresses and the accessories have never been shown together so it kind of tells a story of the family through the dresses and the accessories and I'm lucky enough to have going away outfits and the hats and the shoes and articles that people normally don't keep but my family, they were keepers, so I'm fortunate enough and to have a place to show it all has been so exciting. - [Rob] The exhibits change from time to time but they are all designed to give the viewer the same feeling they get from touring the house itself. - [Mary Beth] We like the house to feel like a home and so we have tried to fill it with artifacts from especially the 1800s, some more recent. If we come across a really unique piece that we feel like adds to the history of the house and the site we include that and try to incorporate that into our interpretation, but by making it feel like a home we like to include photos and everyday items that you would see in a house and to let the public get as close to the artifacts and collection as they can so they can really get a feel that they're walking through a piece of history that has been saved. - [Rob] Saved to be a place where history is saved and appreciated at the Oaklands Mansion in Murfreesboro. - Thanks, Rob. There's a myriad of dining places in Nashville. Many good ones at that. However, the place you're about to visit combines good food and hospitality with healing. Jessica Turk dropped in to the cafe at Thistle Farms to explore the menu and the life saving mission. - [Jessica] There's something sweet. - [Woman] I am making some apple pancakes. - [Jessica] Something savory. - I'm serious about my potpie. - [Jessica] And something saucy. - [Woman] There's a BLT, triple, triple grilled cheese. - [Jessica] But the cafe at Thistle Farms serves more than fun food. It serves - [Woman] - Love. - [Jessica] The cafe is one of the social enterprises of Thistle Farms. A community of survivors who believe love heals. - Thistle Farms is a community of women who are survivors of trafficking, prostitution and addiction. We began as a residential model and have grown into a beautiful social justice enterprise. - [Jessica] Becca Stevens, Founder and President of Thistle Farms, started that residential program which provided housing to survivors in 1997. In 2001 she began a body care company to help give those women jobs. What started as just a vision and some candle wax grew into home and body brand that earned over $3 million in one year and gave survivors the opportunity to earn income and achieve financial independence. In our minds, it's always been a huge connection between economic independence and recovery. That if you talk about loving women, you have to be concerned about their economic wellbeing. So, as Thistle Farms was growing, people started coming to us from all over the country to say, "We want to learn about your model. We want to understand more about what you do." And what I thought was, "Well, if people are coming we need to feed 'em." I mean, we are in the south . And so in 2013 the cafe opened its doors for the first time. We immediately were able to hire six women and able to train women to be baristas and run the register and do the banking and figure out how to serve the tables and run a whole cafe, so it was beautiful right from the beginning. And since then the cafe has grown. We just had a reopening a year ago and in that one year, we have welcomed 50,000 guests through the cafe. - [Jessica] One of those guests, Jim Holzemer, a Deacon at the local Catholic church, is more than just a regular. - I used to tell some of the folks, "If I'm not in the office or over here at church, you can probably find me across the street." And so this is kind of where I began to hang out and would make prayer cards for some of the women here. It just kind of touched me that this was a reason why I wanted to become a Deacon. I wanted to hopefully be a part of helping in the process of their recovery. - And that's how you know something is healing. When everybody feels healed by being a part of it. So a customer comes in and they feel really great about themselves because they're coming to our cafe and they're getting great food and they're supporting a beautiful cause. The women feel empowered and whole and happy to be a part of it, you know it's just a win-win. - Okay, let's go! ♪ Happy birthday to you. ♪ - [Jessica] According to the Front of House Manager, Angela Willis, the cafe adds love to everything it serves. - You know, everybody does need to be fed some love, you know what I mean? And I learned how to prepare food with love. You put love in our sandwiches, in our soups, in our salads and then we serve that love right up to you. I walked in the door with less than 90 days clean. Having the safety of women who knew, had experienced exactly what I had, and not worrying about being judged and being able to share it honestly and cry, and they cry too and understand and feel that. That was my first step for the healing. I didn't have any idea it would turn into, or that I would be employed this long. I don't have a very good track record with employment but it's taught me how to be a woman, how to be a mother, how to be dependable, reliable. - [Jessica] Thistle Farm heals, empowers and employs women survivors, but tea is also a part of that mission. - I thought about tea and how if we were putting healing oils on our body, we could always ingest healings. And tea would be a great vehicle and be able to do that. We wanted to offer tea and then we realized that the history of tea has been connected to human trafficking for centuries. I mean, it really has kind of has a dark past and our thought was if we wanted this to be healing, we had to know it was going to be healing for the producers. And for the whole market chain. So we helped start a couple tea companies. No idea we were going to do that when we started out but this journey into tea has been amazing and it's been a beautiful part of the story of the cafe. - You know, we're not just here for ourselves. We have a lot of sister programs and we're promoting this moringa tea we have because we have some moringa modres and they're women just like us, trying to take care of their family and so we support them by pushing and advocating for this moringa tea because it's just not for us, we're helping someone else and we believe 'cause we've been at the bottom coming up. - [Becca] There's a story in every cup. We all carry stories. And so when you see the display of teacups when you walk into the door, that's really to honor women who are survivors. - [Jessica] Survivors who serve love and so much more. - We appreciate you all and if haven't came by the cafe at Thistle Farms, you should come out. My name is Angela and it was nice meeting you. - Thank you, Jessica. It's always heartening to discover the restoration of a fine, old Tennessee mansion. Even better to discover you can spend the night there. The Walker Inn B&B is such a place. It's in the heart of Bell Buckle where the whole town is like a trip back in time. - The first time you visit Bell Buckle, you feel like you've come home to a charming little town you once dreamed about. A railroad town where the trains don't stop anymore but lots of visitors do. And they browse the quaint craft stores and antique shops. And they dine at places like the Bell Buckle Cafe, known for its home cooked hospitality. If you've come to Bell Buckle for a day trip and find yourself saying, "Gee, I wish I didn't have to go home." Well you don't! You can stay the night in true 19th century luxury. The Walker Inn B&B is an Eastlake Victorian style home built in the late 1800s by a local physician named John White. Back then patients would wait in what's now the foyer. Dr. White would see patients here in what's now a lounging area. - And then his family had it until around 1975 and then there were four additional owners and we purchased it from a couple that ran it as a bed and breakfast called Aerolat but it had been closed for two or three years and then we decided to reopen it. I have to give a lot of credit to the Aerolat owners because they came in and really renovated it quite nicely. - [Joe] MaryLynn Walker is the proud, present owner. - This home is first and foremost absolutely beautiful. It's a very calming inn. We have a library. We have four rooms that you can stay in, all with a private bath and it's just a beautiful home and so it's perfect for a bed and breakfast. - [Joe] Since the ground floor room was occupied, we headed upstairs. - There are three bedrooms upstairs. One is called the Webb Room and we put the school colors, because we have a college preparatory school here called The Webb. We have a room called Covington and that's a family name. And we also have the Elizabeth room which is also a family name, and that's our largest room with a steam shower and a jetted tub. - [Joe] MaryLynn also has a busy job as a nurse practitioner in nearby Wartrace so the B&B needs a constant caretaker. Caleb had traded his job as an Industrial Welder for that of an Innkeeper. - Oh, it's not work at all. Yeah, I'm just living out here and I happen to get paid to greet people and cook 'em breakfast. It's really ideal. Especially coming from the manufacturing world of shift work and long hours and not interacting with people. So it's not a job at all, it's a dream. - Thank you, Caleb. - You're welcome. - [Joe] Part of that dream job is ensuring guests enjoy a bountiful, Bell Buckle breakfast. - We do, of course, something called home style, which is eggs cooked to order. Omelets, we do baked french toast. We have homemade breads. We try to source locally, so all of our goods here are locally sourced, many organic. - So far so good? - Wonderful. - [Joe] For Caleb, part of the joy of working here is just dwelling in this enchanted, Victorian home. - I've never got to live in a house this old. It's a unique way of living. The house talks back to you when you're moving around inside of it. The craftsmanship was obviously of a higher standard back then and the people love it the second they come in here, it's just, they instantly feel like they're at home. - [Joe] And guests need not venture far from home to take in the old fashion charms of downtown Bell Buckle. - Bell Buckle is booming and we have multiple antique shops and we have multiple places to eat. It's just a town that is booming and a lot of shops, a lot of shops with a great variety in those shops. We're close to George Dickel, we're close to Jack Daniels, we're close to the Walking Horse industry. And so there's plenty to do. - [Joe] Taking the reigns of this historic B&B was a giant step for a career nurse practitioner, but for MaryLynn, the diagnosis continues to be nothing but satisfaction. - Because it's so fun to meet our guests and to find out where they're from and it's just a very positive experience. I'm very happy. - Human beings have been making glass for about 3,500 years. But it takes a special talent to turn glass into something, well, artistic. Ken Wilshire met a man down in Chattanooga who accepted the challenge and now shares his glassblowing techniques with other folks. - [Ken] His art degree is in ceramics and pottery. - [Chris] I just want to create things, new and unique things in the world and use my hands doing it. - [Ken] But his passion is in working with white, hot molten glass. - [Chris] Glass just spoke to me a lot clearer than pottery did. - [Ken] So when Chattanooga glassblower Chris Mosey embarked upon his career as what he calls an Object Maker, it was with smoke, fire and a burning desire to create. - The process of making glass is what really intrigued me. I mean, it's just the smoke, it's 2,000 degrees. There's smoke, there's fire, it's all visceral energy behind it when you're making it. It's largely a team endeavor, mostly. You have to have a lot of people to help you do it and it's a lot of collaborative energy going together to make one piece and that's what really drove me to it. It was just like, you just got to communicate with your tribe, or whatever, that's what really interested me. - [Ken] Even his studio is called Ignis Glass, which implies heat and fire. Chris says if you can overcome all the hazards of the art, glassblowing is relatively simple. - The basic process of glassblowing just starts out with you have a long tube called a blow pipe and then you have a furnace. That furnace contains all that molten glass. You retrieve the glass out of the furnace with a blow pipe. Basically how you would take honey out of a honey pot. You apply color to that blob of glass and you inject air into it with your mouth and you just blow it into a shape that, whatever you're making, a tumbler or a bowl or a Christmas ornament or a candle holder. It's very difficult to articulate glassblowing. You really need to see it to really fully understand it. - [Ken] To Chris, it's the glassblowing process that he truly loves. His exquisite functional and sculptural works are simply the results. - I make everything from functional work to sculptural work. I enjoy making works that people just enjoy just looking at and observing to pieces that enrich their daily functioning lives, like where you would put your fruit to a drinking glass to candle holders to lamps. Just being able to communicate with people on that level, a non-verbal communication, is always been a fascination of what art does to people. - [Ken] It's believed glassblowing was invented by the Venetians around 50 B.C. but natural glass has been around since the beginning of time. It's this ancient, unearthed look that Chris wants to achieve. - I mean, I don't really like glass as a material. It's a little too flashy, a little bit too shiny. You don't ever really want to touch it, you don't want to interact with it, you just want to look at it. And I just, it never appealed to me, I mean, glassy stuff doesn't really appeal to me. The more it invites your touch. Like, the more surfaces, the more texture a piece has, that's when I really get interested in it. So a lot of my work really speaks to that as well. - [Ken] And like so many of his predecessors, Chris isn't only an artist but a teacher as well. And to allow others to experience this ancient art, Chris invites the community into his studio to try their hands at blowing glass. But it's the young folks who seem truly fascinated with what he does. - A person will come in and they will choose from a pallet of colors. They will choose that color then we'll start the process. I'll take the glass out of the furnace with a pipe, I'll apply the colors within there and then I actually give them the blow pipe and they actually get to melt the glass in and get to feel what it's like to have that glass on the end of a stick and just how it moves and how it flows. Once all the color's melted in, we go back to the bench, the working area, and I attach a blow hose to the blow pipe and they just inject their own air into the ornament and it just inflates about four to five inches. When I see a child come in and they see their ornament blow up and their eyes get huge they just are so amazed at the material and the parents are smiling and they're all happy and so I get to kind of live through them of how I felt when I first saw glass, so it's always great because I get to see that everyday. - And when it's too hot out in the studio, Chris comes inside and does paintings like these that even mimic glass. - [Chris] When it gets too hot I start painting. When I started making these paintings, I wanted glass to be in there, or at least the idea of glass to be in these paintings. So I couldn't really use the hot glass on there, I just decided to find a facsimile of glass, which the resin seems to be pretty well suited for. - [Ken] Surprisingly, thousands of years ago, glass was as precious as gold. While this certainly has changed, it hasn't devalued the art of glassblowing or Chris Mosey's passion for pursuing. - Well, that I'm afraid is going to do it for this edition of Tennessee Crossroads. I sure thank you for looking in. Hope you will check out our website TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook and of course join me here next week. I'll see you then.
July 02, 2020
Season 34 | Episode 01
On this episode of Tennessee Crossroads, glimpse what life may have been like in Murfreesboro during the 19th century. Discover The Cafe at Thistle Farms, a social enterprise that employs and empowers women. Explore the 125-year-old Walker Inn Victorian B&B in Bell Buckle. Finally, glimpse some beautiful glass art at Ignis Glass Co. in Chattanooga. Brought to you by Nashville Public Television!