- [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Conservationist magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at TNConservationist.org. - This time on Tennessee Crossroads, we explore the new Tennessee State Library and Archives, then meet a Joelton artist who puts glass in motion. We'll visit at a resort above the clouds in east Tennessee, and uncover a treasure map of Columbia's past. Hi everybody, it's time again for Tennessee Crossroads. I'm Joe Elmore, glad to have you. Depending on which survey you read, genealogy is the second most popular hobby in America, next to gardening. More than ever, people are exploring their roots and ancestry through genealogical investigation. Now that's one big reason the new Tennessee State Library and Archives is a treasure of historical discoveries. Plus it's free and open to anyone with an interest in our state's bygone years. It was 21 years from dream to reality. A splendid 165,000 square foot, three story building next door to the Bicentennial Mall. The Tennessee State Library and Archives is one of the most state-of-the-art facilities of its kind. For its overseer, Secretary of state Tre Hargett, it's a treasure for all of us in the state. - We have incredible hopes and expectations, because now not only a way to preserve Tennessee's documents appropriately, we're now, more than ever able to make them accessible to all Tennesseans. - [Joe] Your journey begins in the spacious lobby, a place where you could spend an hour exploring state history through all kinds of original documents. Copies of Tennessee's three constitutions, beginning in 1796 are on display, and you can enjoy giant touchscreens that let you interactively view a myriad of records, censuses, manuscripts, and more. Now this touch screen allows you to explore the lives of prominent Tennesseans throughout history, such as track star Wilma Rudolph, and of course the one and only Dolly Parton. Here's the touchscreen of state maps through the years. State librarian and archivist Chuck Sherrill demonstrates. - Choose an area, let's say, you know your family came from Cumberland County. So see, well here's Cumberland County in 1973, more or less a current map. And so let's say your grandmother had told you that they came there sometime early, before the Civil War. So you could go back and look at the 1832 map, and you see that Cumberland County is actually not there. So if your family had come to Cumberland County at that time, you would know that they settled either in White, or Bledsoe, or Morgan County. - [Joe] At one end of the lobby, there's a rare books room that you can visit and actually browse through priceless publications from around the world. Well like this German Bible, printed in the 16th century. - I was looking through a stack of books, and one of them was this volume, which is not so interesting from the outside, but on the inside it says, "1834 Speeches, "Andrew Jackson, his book, not to be loaned." And I checked it, and it is an original Andrew Jackson signature. So not only does it have some value, but it's interesting to us because it came from Jackson's personal library. - [Joe] The building houses about 360,000 books and journals, in addition to countless government records, maps, and court case files. The grand reading room is a comfortable space for historians and writers to do their work, but it's also a popular attraction for genealogical investigation, a place where you can come discover your family roots. - And it's really cool for us. These are really hallelujah moments for us when we get to watch people's face light up when they find out something about somebody two or three or four generations before them that they'd only heard about, but didn't really know much about. - And we have had occasions where people were looking for a parent that they had never met, or a family member who was lost, who had been able to connect here and sometimes actually meet up here at the library. - [Joe] Actually, about one fourth of the collection is in library shelves. The rest can be stored in this one chamber, thanks to a team of hardworking robots. - [Chuck] It actually saved us from building over 100,000 more square feet, and saving the taxpayers over $50 million, because we were able to shrink the space that the collection required and retrieve it by robots. - Here's how it works: first, you sit down at one of the reading room's computers, find the book you're looking for in the catalog, and touch the Request button. Upstairs, someone will turn your request into a command for one of the robots to retrieve the bin containing your book. By the way, this is the only state library to use a robotic retrieval system. And its 8400 bins can hold a half million books. Next, the worker will pull the requested book from the bin, send it downstairs in a dumbwaiter, and in less than two minutes, here's your book. Well, thank you very much. - You're welcome. - That's all there is to it! The building houses a state-of-the-art conservation lab for restoration and treatment of books, photographs and such, and for items damaged by water or insects, there's the blast freezer, today set at minus 25 degrees. It's like the North Pole in Nashville! - [Chuck] What the freezer really does is suspends the material and the damage, until we have time to work on it and do proper conservation work. - [Joe] The building has classrooms for student groups, and for training of the next generation of archivists. Shakespeare once said there is history in all men's lives. Here, men, and women, and kids can come explore their histories, and just maybe discover some perception of tomorrow. - But we feel that every Tennesseean has a story, and our goal is to preserve as many of those stories as possible. And sometimes we're just preserving a little piece of a story in some record or document, but putting those pieces together using good research skills enables us to learn more about both the past, the present, and the future, because history does have a tendency to repeat itself. - While it's always exciting when the work of a famous artist is on display in Tennessee, it's just a satisfying to discover artistic talent in our own backyard. Laura Faber visited a studio in Joelton of a glassblower who has a unique perspective when it comes to the power of glass. - [Laura] The watery beauty of glass art, complete with tiny organic bubbles, clear or colored, is a wonder to behold. Doing it well is a rare ability. There are a couple of important ingredients when it comes to blowing glass, and intense heat is one of them. Temperatures can reach 2000 degrees in this fiery cave. It's just one piece of equipment glassblower and sculptor Michael Allison uses to manipulate glass. - I love everything about my job; this is my dream. You know, here, doing what I love. - [Laura] Though he has perfected this ancient art in school, and working in different studios all over the country, Allison has settled on a pretty piece of land in Joelton, where beauty emerges from an old cattle barn. - [Michael] I would consider myself a multimedia artist with if there was anything that I was a master at, it would be glass, and I've been doing it for 24 years. And it's definitely my passion, because it is a very exciting medium. And it's kind of instant satisfaction. You know, you only got one shot at it, and then it's done. - [Laura] Allison has always had a fascination for nature, which is apparent in his work. From the glass birds that adorn his pieces to water, which is a consistent theme. His passion for creating beautiful things started as a child. - My grandmother, the way she got me to learn to swim was to tell me she was going to buy me a paint by number set, you know? And I was like, oh, okay, all right. And you know, so I've always known that I'm an artist, I've just always known, I think, and that's been one of the blessings. - [Laura] Allison is probably best known for his glass art inspired by water. He loves the fluidity of both, and he often combines his talent for casting metals with glass. Some of his most powerful pieces combine antique and vintage looking industrial faucets that drip glass. His many chandeliers are stunning and unique. - That is one of the magical parts of glass that I didn't say, was that it is a liquid, and I like it to keep it in that liquid state when it's solid, because that way, the viewer gets to see the glass the way I see it as well. and I like accentuating that about the glass, is that it is this liquid, because we're always so used to seeing it in a solid state. You know, also it freezing in that moment is kind of like a point of metamorphosis you know, like a process that's just about to change. - [Laura] In one of his most vivid public art commissions, Allison was asked to create something to commemorate the 2010 Nashville flood. His dramatic, large-scale piece hangs 40 feet in the air on the Antioch Community Center. - I'm really blessed to be able to have that up in such a great area, and for it kind of freezes that moment of that devastation, and hopefully to reflect on not only the bad, but the beauty of how it brought the community together, you know, and then to be able to make something beautiful out of that destruction. - [Laura] Glassblowing all starts with a pot of liquid glass and lots of heat. Allison inflates the molten glass with a blow pipe to form a bubble, and from there, it is a constant process of using gravity, moving, rolling, shaping, and keeping that glass above a certain temperature. - You have to be able to work glass quick, because you can't set it down and come back to it like a painting. You've gotta finish and you gotta put it in the annealing, because at any point, if the glass falls below 900 degrees while you're working it, it'll crack. - On this day, Allison has created a vase and a glass as beautiful as they are useful. Once cooled, they will be finished on pieces of equipment built by Allison. Okay, Michael, talk about these pieces of equipment. All refurbished, but you use these currently with what you're creating out of your glass, right? - Yeah, they're all refurbished from the '50s for using, for beveling and cutting glass. These diamond pads, they're magnetic, actually get stuck on this wheel, and then we use water, and it gets turned on, and I can grind the glass. - [Laura] Okay. - And we have a lathe here that you can cut glass, do a sphere, spherical interior, and then you've got a cork wheel, which is a pre-polish, you get to pumice, and then a felt wheel, which actually gets a serum oxide on it, and you take the glass all the way back to a polish. - [Laura] It's a passion he loves to share through teaching at various colleges or hosting groups in his studio. - I get joy out of bringing joy to other people, you know? And that's what I'm doing with my art. I mean, I make it because I enjoy it, but I want other people to enjoy it too. - [Laura] A true reflection of the artist's personality, imagination is the only boundary when working with glass. - Thank you, Laura. Have you ever looked out the window of an airplane and marveled at the beauty of an ocean of clouds below? Well, would you like to have that same experience without having to buy a plane ticket? Well, Ed Jones found the place for you. He headed skyward in our Tennessee Crossroads minivan, which, by the way, would never pass an FAA inspection. - [Scott] In the mornings, the clouds coming up over the valley, it's like an ocean below. - [Ed] A city above the clouds sounds like the stuff of dreams. And it was the dream of one man with the ironic name of Jim McCloud. - He had a vision of this being like Rock City. Had a really good start of something. Interstate kind of put that to sleep. - [Ed] Scott Fields' father Paul would reawaken that dream. - [Scott] My father fell in love with it, said, "You know, this would be a great investment." We used it as a family retreat from the late '80s until about 2006, which point he said, "You know, "I think we need to share the place. "We should build a restaurant." But my dad, like Jim McCloud, this became the love affair of his life. We're carrying on the family tradition and living my dad's dream. - [Ed] As the owner of McCloud Mountain Restaurant and Lodge, Scott is now the steward of that dream and is eager to share it with others, beginning with the breathtaking view nearly 3000 feet above the valley below. - [Scott] From the far east, which is the furthest you can see, you're seeing just over Cumberland Gap in Middlesborough. On a very clear day, you can see the Smokies, which are about 65 miles in the distance. You can see Clingmans Dome. You look all down the Cumberlands to the left and the right. We also sit in the middle of the Cumberland Trail. The Cumberland Trail is a planned trail that they hope to open the next decade, and it comes right down our main road. - [Ed] The cliffside view is thrilling, and so is the trip up and down the mountain. - [Scott] We always recommend putting it in first gear on some of the steep ones. It is a serpentine road, and hopefully you got a shot of the sign coming up the hill with the squiggly line. - [Ed] All those twists and turns can certainly build up an appetite, which restaurant and lodge manager Charles Wallace can remedy. - We really have a nice diverse menu, with a little bit of something for everybody. We really consider ourselves destination dining. So you really want to make sure that everybody comes up finds something they care for. Our steaks are really incredible, we're really known for our barbecue. It's a Tennessee style barbecue. We have a smoker out in the back, so everything's smoked here in-house. We do have burgers, we do have a nice selection of salads for people, we have a nice duck breast salad, just a little bit of twist to the traditional. - Are you guys doing all right? How is everything? - [Patrons] Great! - Wonderful. Thank you for coming to the mountain. - [Ed] If the spectacular view from the main dining room isn't awe-inspiring enough, perhaps you'd prefer a private table dangling off the cliff! - The overlook was the original concept of the restaurant. Dad wanted to cantilever the whole thing off the edge of the mountain. A lot of people would not have seen that, but he kept that ideal. He wanted to put you out over the edge. Cantilever dining room came along about a year and a half to two years after we opened the restaurant, and it does give an opportunity to walk out and look down on the elevation you're truly at. - [Ed] If you'd rather have your feet on the ground, but nothing above you, try the- - [Charles] Skydeck, which is going to be a lot of fun, wide open, straight outside dining, and you're sitting on top of the world. It's just going to be a little limited menu, we're going to be working out of that smoker. We have a little bit more limited menu than in here, but it's going to be a fantastic venue for just something really different. - [Ed] For those looking to spend more time on the mountain, there are 11 lovely lodges available. - [Scott] They're all king suites. Each of the rooms, you walk into a master bedroom, has a little kitchenette off to the side, full-sized refrigerator, microwave, and a closet. As you walk around, you have a 50-inch TV on the wall, which you're on top of the mountain with a view like this, you won't spend much time watching that. Very private deck outside of the master bedroom, privacy screens on each side. You would have to go out of your way to see anybody else. As you walk around the corner, we do have a jetted tub, big custom double bowl vanity. Walk into the bathroom, everything is custom tiled. Just did everything, the best touches that we could come up with. Hopefully better than the comforts of home. - [Ed] Luxury lodging, cliffside dining, but wait, there's more! - One of the biggest questions I get is, what is there to do when I get there if I spend a few days? The first thing to do is not fight crowds. We're close to the Smokies, but you know, it's quiet here. Sit back, read a book. We've got miles of hiking trails. We've got beautiful rock formations, waterfalls. It's a place to get away from all of that. We have incredible sights. Just the view here is amazing, and that's just the south-facing side. The north-facing side of the mountain is all nature. You see very few homes, very little of anything. The chimney rocks that are here onsite are one of our biggest hits. The 150 chimneys standing up to 250 feet high. We've built a bridge out over top of them so everybody can get out and enjoy them. The state of Tennessee purchased that plot of land from us about three years ago. They are being integrated into the Cumberland Trail. - [Charles] So it's a great spot if you're really looking for something unique for your family, with the lodge, which is really nice for the anniversaries, you can stay and you're from Knoxville, or Nashville, or wherever, come up and stay the weekend. Have your family to come up and visit, have a nice lunch/dinner, you know, any kind of event like that's worked real well. - [Ed] So if you're looking for an out-of-this-world, well, above this world experience, your dream could be waiting just above the clouds. - Thanks, Ed. There was a time when taking a photograph required money, time, patience, planning, and of course, an artist's eye. They were scarce and special. So when some folks in Columbia found more than a million photographic negatives, some dating back to 1870, well, they felt like they had found a long buried treasure. Rob Wilds takes us treasure hunting in our final story. - West Seventh Company in Columbia didn't start out to be a photo gallery. That phase of its life began, appropriately enough, with a conversation about a camera. Joel Friddell and his wife, Kim Hayes were buying the building from David White. This building had long housed a photography studio, but the huge camera would have to go. That just didn't sit well with Joel. - He and I both talked about it being sold out of the county, and we just thought that that was a terrible thing. And his wife wouldn't let him take it home because it was too big. I said, "Well, one day, there'll be a museum here, So I'll buy the camera and it'll stay here at your camera shop. - [Rob] Then David mentioned the negatives stored in the building. The collection of W. A. Orman started more than half a century ago. - We have really just scratched the surface. And when you deal with this many photos, and there are more than a million. - [Rob] More than a million? - More than a million. - [Rob] An honest million, not an exaggeration? - Not an exaggeration, a million. We have boxes and boxes that we have yet to even open, and each one of these has envelopes, and the envelopes are stuffed in, and inside the envelopes are negatives. Very thin, so you just don't know how many negatives are in there. - [Rob] Of course, just looking at and cataloging all those negatives could be a life's work for David, Joel, and Kim, but not work, really a treasure hunt. - So here, when you get to this truck that has the insignia on it, see that's where- - Right there. - Biddy, we'll have to ask. - My wife laughs at me, I'll go out and open up a box and I'll come back and say, "You wouldn't believe what I found." - [Joel] Look at the way the clouds are that day. - [Rob] Some can be saved, some may be lost for good, like these taken of a fire in Spring Hill which virtually destroyed the whole town back in 1938. - [Joel] The whole town basically burnt down. But look, see? - [Kim] So you'll have to soak them. - [Joel] Well, you can't soak these, because if you do the motion, the rest of it will just come completely off. So the only thing you can do is scan them. - [Rob] And just start piecing it back together? - [Joel] And just start piecing it back together. - [Rob] Still, many survive, each giving us a look at how things were in Columbia, Tennessee. - [Joel] The workers have posed, because in those days, you'd have to do a really long exposure. They're all over the building, including there's a guy standing on the very tip top of the clock tower. That one is a pretty amazing photo. - [Rob] Also amazing, a photo of an even older courthouse. - We found the previous courthouse, and that was something that was very unexpected. They tore it down in 1903, and the photo appears to be the preparation for tearing it down. It's a wonderful full-on photo, and it's just amazing that we have a photo of the previous courthouse. - [Rob] Then there are the photos of the kinds of tragedies every town endures: a fire at Gordon's Department Store. - And it's such a cold day that while they're spraying water on the building, it's freezing. And so as soon as they take this picture, you've got icicles where a fire just was. And in the lower window are mannequins that are just still smiling and happy. - I was here then. I remember that we were called at home, Gordon's was on fire. - [Rob] Oh, I bet that was a traumatic event at the time. - Oh, it was, it was. - So you're helping out, telling the people here what's in these photographs, and you've seen 'em? - Any of them that I know. - [Rob] Biddy Crozier knows about many of these photos, because she knows the people in them. - Colonel Waverley Hayes Jackson is who that is. - [Rob] She's lived in Columbia all her life. Now in her 90s, she came into the gallery and found family. - When I came in the first time, that's when I saw my husband. His name is Houston Crozier, called Hoose. Hoose is all anybody ever called him. I didn't know him when he looked like that. - Well, it looks like he's kind of got a little attitude there, leaning on the gas pumps like that. - And then I looked across a little while over here, and there was my Daddy, in front of a Western Union. He was the manager of the Western Union. There was nothing, no name at all. They had no idea. - We didn't know anything about it. - Who it was. - [Rob] Biddy and other people in town have become sort of detectives to help find out about the people and the places in the photographs. - [Joel] We ran into his daughter. And it's not who we were told it was. We're exposing people to photos that they haven't seen in decades, but we're also having people that are coming in that are 60, 70, 90 years old, and they're telling us stories about family businesses, finding family members. So there's sort of a race against time here to be able to get the information that you couldn't get any other way. - [Rob] And with many more negatives to explore and restore, Joel knows he may not get to them all before he retires. - We realized that we want, that this is such an enormous process, there's so much research that has to be done, and just the physical nature of going through the photos when you have this many, this is something that we're going to have to set up a nonprofit in the future to be able to make sure that this collection continues, is accessible, and that the research continues. - [Rob] And the results on view at the West Seventh Company gallery in Columbia. - My, my, how the time does fly. Well, thanks for joining us. In the meantime, don't forget to visit our website, TennesseeCrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, of course. Hey, and I'll see you next week. - [Announcer] Published by Tennessee State Parks, the Tennessee Conservationist Magazine features articles on native species, culture, and history, connecting readers with Tennessee's natural resources and recreational activities. More information at TNConservationist.org.
July 01, 2021
Season 35 | Episode 01
Joe Elmore tours the new Tennessee State Library and Archives. Laura Faber meets a mind-blowing glass artist in Joelton. Ed Jones visits a restaurant and lodge above the clouds in Duff, Tennessee. Rob Wilds finds a photographic treasure trove in Columbia. Presented by Nashville Public Television.