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Jackson County, AL Heritage Development Plan
Sponsored by the Middle Tennessee State University Center for Historic Preservation March 2011
March 2011 Prepared By: Garet Bleddyn Mona Brittingham Rachel Drayton Kelsey Fields Hallie Fieser Amy Kostine Cheri Laflamme Lauren Pate Katie Randall Essentials in Historic Preservation, Fall 2010 MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, Dr. Carroll Van West, Director
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY…………..………………………………..… 1 COMMUNITY HISTORY…………………………………………………………...………………….. 3 NEW DEAL CONTEXT………………………………………………………………………...3 CRAFT AND MUSIC TRADITIONS………………………………………………………… 11 SKYLINE FARMS AS DOCUMENTED BY NEW DEAL PHOTOGRAPHERS………… 25 THROUGH THE EYES OF THE COLONISTS………………………………………….… 42 NEW DEAL ARCHITECTURE……………………………………………………………….46 RESOURCE INVENTORY…………………………………………………………………………… 49 ORAL HISTORY………………………………………...………………………………….… 89 MUSIC RESOURCES…………………………..…………………………………………… 93 PRESERVATION NEEDS AND RECOMMENDATIONS………………………………………… 97 LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENT……………………………………………………………………… 119 MUSEUM PLAN……………………………………………………………………………………… 129 STRATEGIC PLAN………………………………………………………………………………….. 147 BIBLIOGRAPHY…………………………………………………………………………………….. 157
PROJECT BACKGROUND AND METHODOLOGY Skyline Farms is located on Cumberland Mountain in the Appalachian region of northeast Alabama. Although the mountain was sparsely settled for many years, much of what makes up the Skyline Farms community today is the result of a New Deal Resettlement Administration project that began in 1934 and ended c.1945. Although the government’s involvement with Skyline Farms officially ended sometime in the mid 1940s, many of the project’s residents remained on the mountain and made lives for their families there. What remains of the project’s built environment and landscape points to a time in U.S. history when federal, state, and local government experimented with methods for providing relief to the nation’s hardest hit by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Many of the community’s current residents were children and young adults when the project began. Their families came from all over the region just for a chance at a better life. The project’s commissary building and warehouse will soon be acquired by the Skyline Farms Heritage Association, a nonprofit interested in the preservation and interpretation of the Skyline Farms community. This Heritage Development Plan is the result of a graduate essentials course in historic preservation at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) during the Fall of 2010. The Skyline Farms Heritage Association (SFHA) approached the Center for Historic Preservation about undertaking this project in May of 2010. It was decided that a Heritage Development Plan would be helpful to the SFHA at this time. In the MTSU historic preservation essentials course, nine students researched and assessed the community’s properties and landscapes, and provided recommendations for preservation and future use. The report was prepared and edited with the assistance of staff at the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, including Director Van West, Programs Manager Anne-Leslie Owens, and Projects Coordinator Elizabeth Moore. Staff assistance from the Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area came from Preservation Specialist Michael Gavin. Dr. Van West divided the class into five groups. The history team researched the history of the community and provided historical context in five areas: New Deal history, music and crafts tradition, photographic legacy, local memory, and architectural history. The resource inventory group assessed and documented the community’s existing resources, including the community’s built environment and music resources. This group also made National Register of Historic Places recommendations and compiled a list with recommendations for potential oral histories. The preservation needs group assessed, photo-documented damage of, and prioritized preservation issues at the Commissary (commonly referred to as the Rock Store), Warehouse, and Administrative Office (commonly referred to as the Rock House). This group also assessed the community’s landscape and made recommendations for preservation and future use. The museum group assessed the SFHA’s current collections and made recommendations for conservation of artifacts and future use of the Commissary. The strategic plan team researched historical organizations and nonprofits, became familiar with the SFHA’s bylaws, and made recommendations for long-term planning, fundraising, and interpretation.
COMMUNITY HISTORY Skyline Farms, New Deal Context: 1934-1944 The Great Depression of the 1930s proved to be one of the darkest times in United States history, particularly devastating for America’s farmers. Unemployment was at an all time high as the many affected Americans searched for work and hoped for help. Skyline Farms is remembered as one of the most unique socioeconomic experiments to develop out of this need in Alabama’s history. As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program, the project aided many farmers and their families in what was likely their greatest time of need. The Skyline Farms project was established to provide jobs and social welfare to unemployed, sometimes homeless, farmers of Alabama. Forty-three such projects were attempted across the United States, but Skyline Farms was viewed by many within the federal government as one of the most successful resettlement projects. Historian David Campbell, president of Northeast Alabama Community College concludes, “It was one of the largest in terms of development, expenses, and national publicity.”1 Originally called Cumberland Mountain Farms (the name changed in 1937 to Skyline Farms to avoid confusion between it and Cumberland Mountain Homesteads in Tennessee), the resettlement project in Jackson County, Alabama, served more than two hundred families at its height in 1936, ending as abruptly as it began less than a decade later. In the latter half of 1934, appropriations were made by the federal government under the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA), for the development of subsistence homesteads in the state of Alabama. The project was administered by the Resettlement Administration (RA). The RA came after a branch of the Division of Rural Rehabilitation and Stranded Populations dissolved in 1935 and subsumed the Department of Interior’s Division of Subsistence Homesteads. The RA administered the Skyline Farms project until it was subsumed in 1937 by the newly designated Farm Security Administration (FSA). The FSA administered the project until roughly 1942 when it too dissolved, after which the Skyline Farms project declined.2 Many New Deal agencies were involved with Skyline Farms over the years, but the project was undoubtedly a Resettlement Administration/ Farm Security Administration project. Governor Bibb Graves attended a 1933 conference at Warm Springs in Georgia where he along with six other southern governors met with President Roosevelt on matters of relief in their prospective states. In keeping with the “back to the farm” movement that had been gaining in popularity throughout the 1910s and 1920s, New Deal social theorists believed that providing means for people in need of relief to own land and produce their own crops would not only better their physical standard of living but would also make them better citizens. Campbell argues, “Moreover, citizens of the economically troubled, industrializing nation viewed rural life as idyllic and desirable.”3 In addition, Campbell says, “Roosevelt believed that American cities were housing an increasingly disproportionate segment of the population and wanted to see
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” Encyclopedia of Alabama, http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/face/Article.jsp?id=h-1546 (accessed September 22, 2010).
2 Phoebe 3 1
Cutler, The Public Landscape of the New Deal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 118.
rural land put to better use.”4 In response, Roosevelt’s administration provided funding for community development programs in rural areas, as evident by the work of FERA. The Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA) was established May 22, 1933, with Harry Hopkins as administrator. In Alabama, this agency was often referred to at the state level as the Emergency Relief Agency of Alabama (ERA in state and local newspapers) and had offices in Montgomery. Also in 1933, the National Industrial Recovery Act authorized the creation of a Division of Subsistence Homesteads, located within the Department of Interior. This allowed for FERA to launch a Rural Rehabilitation program the following year. Historian Carroll Van West describes the program’s transition from FERA to the Resettlement Administration (RA). He says, “Rural housing programs were then reorganized in 1935, when the earlier Department of Interior and FERA projects were placed under the supervision of the Resettlement Administration (except for the three largest villages that were given to the WPA).”5 As a result, Skyline too came under the administration of the RA in 1935. The Resettlement Administration (RA) was comprised of two divisions. One division focused on resettlement of suburban communities. The other made up the Division of Rural Rehabilitation and Resettlement, which was its function at Skyline Farms. West describes the subsistence homestead ideal when he says: Nationwide, the RA’s Rural Rehabilitation Division from 1935-1937 supervised twentyfive original FERA communities and thirty-four original Subsistence Homesteads while establishing another thirty-four RA communities. The projects were described as ‘subsistence homesteads’ because reformers assumed that the best living environment for these depressed rural areas was one in which a family had enough land to produce a garden, raise some livestock and poultry, and then have good roads to provide access to nearby factories where cash wages could be earned.6 One of the twenty-five original projects funded and administered by FERA, the creation of Skyline Farms certainly reflects the above ideal. By 1937, the RA’s projects were turned over to the Farm Security Administration (FSA), and administration of Skyline Farms transferred hands again. The Farm Security Administration (FSA) was created in 1937 by the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenancy Act, which transferred Resettlement Administration (RA) projects to the FSA. 7 FSA, like the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA) and the RA before it, focused its efforts on rural rehabilitation. Again, resettlement homesteads, like Skyline Farms, were viewed as the best way to assist struggling farmers. Because so many southern farmers were tenant farmers or sharecroppers, these agencies were designed to facilitate land ownership. Often, the best way to accomplish this goal involved cooperative memberships within a newly established community.
Carroll Van West, Tennessee’s New Deal Landscapes: A Guidebook (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2001), 128-129.
Ibid., 129. Ibid., 19.
Once appropriations were approved for statewide subsistence-homesteading programs, locations for these projects had to be determined by state legislature. In December 1934, Jackson County Probate Judge J.M. Money travelled with eight other county delegates to Montgomery, Alabama, the state’s capital, and argued for one of the proposed homesteads to be developed in Jackson County. Judge Money asked the legislature to consider the county’s rich natural resources, abundance of undeveloped land on Cumberland and Sand Mountains, and the residents’ current condition. A large percentage of Jackson County residents were already on state relief rolls, and most were tenant farmers at best. Money asked for help so that Jackson County families could become self-sustaining. In addition to Judge Money’s observations, it is evident that the Cumberland Mountain region had previously been considered for a subsistence-homesteading project. In June 1934, Two Rivers Lumber and Mining Corporation proposed developing a similar project, which would have been the first of its kind to be developed by private enterprise. An article in the Jackson County Sentinel tells of the plans, and says it was the goal of the corporation’s president, W.S. Douglas, “to fit in with the great Tennessee Valley development envisioned.”8 The article says that work on the project had already begun. Saw mills were already in operation and the corporation had already begun clearing land. Further evidence of an earlier project plan is seen in an article originally printed by the Birmingham News Age-Herald and reprinted in the Jackson County Sentinel on December 3, 1936. The article reads, “Although the project is now under the Resettlement Administration it was started as a local attempt to relieve the suffering among Jackson County’s destitute.”9 The Jackson County Sentinel article from 1934 also discusses the possible flooding of several homes in the Cove Creek region near Knoxville, Tennessee, once the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) begins construction of Norris Dam. This scenario was typical of many TVA dam projects throughout the rural south. Areas in northeast Mississippi, for instance, were flooded and hundreds displaced due to construction of a dam on the Tennessee River. The news article confirms that hundreds of families were to be displaced and would need somewhere new to settle. In addition to the area’s abundance of undeveloped land, a road had been built up to the mountain from Scottsboro under the Hoover Administration’s Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) just one year earlier. In late 1931, the Hoover Administration developed the concept of a Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) as an efficient way to meet needs for economic stimulation and social relief as the depression worsened. Congress created the RFC on January 22, 1932. The RFC was the earliest known government relief agency to have major operations underway in Jackson County. It funded the construction of a road from Scottsboro to Cumberland Mountain and back down into Paint Rock Valley. This modern road, completed in 1934, opened up the “wilderness” plateau of Cumberland Mountain for development.10 Judge Money noted the proposed flood region as well as the previous investment of a road up to Cumberland Mountain before the Alabama legislature as further cause for selecting Jackson County for at least one of the planned subsistence-homesteading projects. He argued
“Lumber Corporation Will Develop Vast Cumberland Mountain Into Homesteads,” Jackson County Sentinel, June, 28, 1934.
“Birmingham News Reporter Writes of Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, December 3, 1936. “Jackson Allocated $350,000 for Colony on Cumberland Mountain,” Jackson County Sentinel, February
that the people displaced in Tennessee would find northeast Alabama very similar to their homes near Knoxville, thus providing an easier transition for them. It is not known whether or not the previous attempt to develop such a project through private enterprise influenced the legislature’s decision. It is possible that because sawmills were already in place and land was already cleared that officials viewed the Cumberland Mountain region more favorably than other locations for development of a resettlement community. It is also not known why plans for the project never materialized under the Two Rivers Lumber and Mining Corporation. By December 13, 1934, word had arrived that Jackson County would be the location of one of three resettlement communities in Alabama. Two hundred farm families already on the relief rolls of the state’s Rural Rehabilitation Program would be eligible for acceptance to the resettlement community. The project was developed on 13,000 acres of land purchased by the federal government from the Pierce Development Company. The land was located on Cumberland Mountain, 1,500 feet above sea level. The project was based on a cooperative structure with all members working to clear one another’s land and construct one another’s homes. Like most New Deal programs of the Jim Crow era, Skyline Farms was for whites only. Gee’s Bend of Wilcox County, Alabama and Prairie Farms of Macon County, Alabama were similar resettlement communities designated for African Americans. The selection process for families was demanding and included only families already on relief rolls, most of them already living in Jackson County. Among the criteria used were men with farm experience and a willingness to live in a rural community. Men had to be in good physical health and between the ages 30 and 55. They had to be of good character, have no criminal record, and have evidence of a good credit rating before the Depression. According to Campbell, the age requirement existed because men of that age group often found it most difficult to find employment, yet they were experienced and mature.11 While construction of homes and a communal center was underway, a bunkhouse and mess hall were erected for the first twenty-five men employed on the project. The plan originally was that these twenty-five men would stay and work throughout the week, returning to their families on weekends. Once all twenty-five men had constructed homes for their families, the project would be expanded until two hundred families had settled there. This arrangement did not last long however. As word circulated as to which families had been chosen to “colonize” the new community, many landlords evicted tenants who were slated to move, and as a result, temporary shacks had to be erected to house entire families throughout the construction process.12 From the very beginning, it was unclear not only to the farm families at Skyline Farms but also to government officials how farmers would repay their debt to the government. Although it was often discussed in the two newspapers prominent in Jackson County, the Jackson County Sentinel and The Progressive Age, definitive procedures for repayment were not widely known. This miscommunication was likely one of the greatest failures in the project’s history. In her book on New Deal landscapes, Phoebe Cutler discusses this issue as it pertains to the history of Cumberland Homesteads in Tennessee. She says, “The government’s
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” unpublished manuscript located in the collection of David Campbell papers, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set Up,” located in the collection at the Commissary in Skyline,
revolving set of rules and fluctuating credo only exacerbated the confusion.”13 That said, it is apparent from newspaper articles that settlers were expected to pay on their debt in one way or another. One article states that “suitable” work would be established for women of the colony so they too could “work out their indebtedness to the government.”14 The first home was open for inspection February 7, 1935. Harry N. Ross, the project director under FERA and Jackson County works supervisor, hosted the inspection. Judge Money, Congressman Kirby, and FERA’s District Rehabilitation Director, T.P. Lee, all made speeches. Planning engineer, A.F. Hawkins, State Director of Rural Rehabilitation, R.K. Green, state works supervisor, F.R. Smith, and J.T. High of the Auburn Extension Service all attended. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford Edwards and their family moved into the first colony house that day. Most of the house’s interior features were furnished by residents of Jackson County. Furniture was mostly made at the colony and rugs and linens were handmade by women across the county. The community’s center included a school, commissary, warehouse, cotton gin, and a manager’s office. Over time, a women’s work center, most likely used for canning, and a men’s work center, most likely used for woodwork and ironwork, were constructed in the center of town. All of these buildings were constructed by members of the colony under the supervision of the Resettlement Administration’s construction division. A health clinic was located somewhere in the center of town, possibly the nurse’s private home or maybe housed in the administrative office. The project’s home demonstration agent also kept a private home, which served as the model home for women in the community. The remaining land was divided among settlers in forty to sixty acre units (unit size varied based on the number of family members living on the land). Each family received materials to clear the land and construct a three to five bedroom home on the property. In addition, each family received an apple tree, mule, barn, and smokehouse.15 Food and clothing were provided to settlers through joint funding from the Federal Emergency Relief Agency (FERA) and the Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC). The Federal Surplus Relief Corporation (FSRC) was first conceived as a FERA program in the fall of 1933. It was developed “as a means of circumventing the irony whereby crops piled up in the countryside while the cities went hungry.”16 The FSRC therefore began acquiring surplus commodities from farmers and feeding the unemployed. One of many New Deal agencies, the FSRC was short lived and was merged into the Department of Agriculture in the early 1940s. In addition to the major role played by the Resettlement Administration (RA), several other New Deal agencies were involved at Skyline Farms. Throughout the project’s decade long existence, agencies such as the Works Progress Administration (later renamed the Works Projects Administration or WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the National Youth Administration (NYA) all had an active presence within the community.
13 Cutler, 14 15 16
The Public Landscape of the New Deal, 117.
“Colonization Plan for Jackson County Moving Rapidly,” The Progressive Age, January 24, 1935. Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” 12. Arthur Schlesinger Jr., The Coming of the New Deal: 1933-1935 (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1958), 278.
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was first established in May 1935 and was headed by Harry Hopkins at the federal level. The WPA funded many roads and bridge projects across the south and also funded the construction of hundreds of schools and public buildings. When they did not fund projects, they often provided labor. At Skyline Farms, the WPA funded the building of the community’s second school. Through a grant of $21,277, the new school was constructed over a two year period and opened in 1938. As with the rest of the farms project, members of the resettlement community were responsible for most of the labor to construct the school. Construction however was supervised by a WPA official and the structure was “government planned.”17 In addition, William Kessler, landscape architect of Birmingham, Alabama, contributed to the design of the school.18 The WPA’s use of Kessler reflects the agency’s employment of local professionals in its projects. The school was an eleven room building made of native sandstone and featured an auditorium where numerous community functions were held. Unfortunately, in January of 1941, this building was lost to a fire of an undetermined cause and is no longer extant. The loss was estimated at $70,000 and was partially covered by insurance. The Jackson County Board of Education signed a contract in July of 1941 with Douglas Construction Company of Birmingham, Alabama to rebuild the school. The school was rebuilt on the original school site. Although the extant structure may be a reconstruction of the original school building, it was not a WPA project.19 The Civilian Conservation Corps was created under Congress as the Emergency Conservation Work program on March 31, 1933. The name was changed to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937 when the agency was reauthorized. Over time, the CCC proved one of the most popular New Deal agencies. Under the CCC, more than three million unemployed men between the ages of 18 and 25 were employed to work on projects related to the conservation and development of natural resources. It is unclear the impact the CCC had specifically at Skyline Farms. Newspaper articles reference CCC officials in the area. One article even references a CCC camp in Jackson County but does not specifically mention the project site.20 Another New Deal agency prominent within the Skyline Farms community was the National Youth Administration (NYA). Established in June of 1935 as part of the Roosevelt administration’s implementation of the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, the NYA provided work to needy students between the age of 18 and 25. West describes the NYA’s primary goal. He says, “The administration saw NYA’s primary value as providing funds and work scholarships to keep needy students in high school and college under its Student Aid program.”21 This goal was evident in Skyline Farms’ NYA program. Local supervisor of the NYA, Clifford Anderson, developed the program for Skyline. The program consisted of thirtyfive boys and ten girls, drawing $450.00 collectively each month for their pay. A second division of the NYA was a school work-aid group, giving part-time work to students 16 years of age and older. Each student could make up to $6.00 a month, but they had to remain enrolled in school while they worked. These students worked on various projects, including clearing ditches to
17 18 19 20 21
“Jackson Gets Big WPA Allocation on Local Projects,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 31, 1935. “Land-Breaking for School Building is Attended by Many,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 19, 1936. “Contract Let for Skyline School,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 1, 1941. “Local Made Movies Here Next Week,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 20, 1935. West, Tennessee’s New Deal Landscapes, 22.
control flooding and building small bridges across some ditches in the drainage system. They also assisted in construction of the basketball court, volleyball court, and playground equipment. The younger boys built wash stands to contribute to the health program and bookcases for teachers. Girls in the second division assisted teachers with classroom materials and posters. Throughout the farm project’s duration, the National Youth Administration (NYA) accomplished many things for the Skyline Farms community. Boys in the program made heaters for the school out of recycled oil drums. They also built playground equipment and constructed a park on the school grounds as well as one on Larkinsville Road. The boys also established a nursery in which they collected specimens of all native flowers and shrubs and transplanted them for preservation. One of the most extensive projects attempted by the NYA boys was reclaiming of the Confederate Veterans’ cemetery east of the community’s center. This particular project received special appropriations from the NYA. According to one newspaper report, the cemetery consisted of ten acres and was covered in natural growth. NYA boys were responsible for clearing the land and repairing the markers. A wall of native stone was to be constructed at the entrance.22 Similarly, girls of the NYA program were hard at work. They conducted a health survey of sanitation by inspecting all houses and premises within the community. They also assisted in clearing the grounds for the school park. In addition to Student Aid programs, the NYA furnished a full-time librarian for the community library. Along with the presence of several federal agencies, three state agencies played important roles in the development of Skyline Farms. The Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now known as Auburn University, gave professional agricultural advice through its Extension Division. The State Health Department assisted by playing an advisory role, and the State Department of Education partnered with the Jackson County school board to make materials available for the development of educational programs.23 Residents of Skyline Farms became members of the farm cooperative and together owned the commissary. They also formed their own marketing association and enjoyed cooperative health care benefits. The federal government subsidized these projects. Local elections were organized for the first time in May 1937 to elect the community council. Also in 1937, farmers hoped to move away from subsistence farming and planted their first cash crop, Irish potatoes. Later that same year, Resettlement Administration officials sent Ben Shahn of the Special Skills Division to photograph the project. These images are now available online through the Library of Congress’s American Memory Collection. In addition to their work on the farm, residents participated in a variety of social and recreational activities. Officials from the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration often organized such events. The Skyline Farms Band and square dancers were nationally recognized in 1938 when they were invited to perform on the White House lawn for the president and first lady. Campbell says, “This was the first time a traditional music ensemble had performed at the White House for an American president.”24 He adds that Alan Lomax later recorded the musicians for the Archive of American Folk Song at the Library of Congress, part of another New Deal initiative that put unemployed artists to work.
“Extensive NYA Program at Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 5, 1936.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms,” published by FERA, located in the collection at the Commissary in Skyline, Alabama.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms.”
Resettlement Administration (RA) officials of Jackson County outlined the plan for Skyline Farms in a document called “Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms.” This document outlines plans for a “social service approach” to be employed at Skyline Farms. A trained social worker, who formerly served as Director of Relief in an agricultural county, was employed as Director of Social Service for this project. This person would have been a woman as social work was one of few female dominated professions. Under her authority, the RA placed a doctor, nurse, a home economist, and recreational leader to assist her in promoting a social service program. This same document notes plans for construction of the “Model House” mentioned previously. Just like the homes of homesteaders, the model house was designed to be the private residence of the social service staff under direct supervision of the Home Economist. The document says that the Home Economist was responsible for “teaching the women of a well ordered home and the ways in which they might improve living conditions in their homes.”25 In addition to the Special Skills Division of the Resettlement Administration (RA), the Public Health Section of the RA provided a health-care clinic. A nurse was on duty full-time while the doctor, Dr. Zimmerman, was available only part-time. Healthcare at Skyline, like everything else, was viewed as a cooperative initiative and paid through a pre-paid group plan. This type of program was common in other such rural resettlement projects and was the first of its kind sponsored by the federal government.26 The health clinic hosted several events for the health education and physical betterment of the community. For instance, periodically, the nurse provided “Well Baby” clinics and immunization clinics. The Home Management specialist, Eleanor Holley, sponsored a Red Cross Nutrition Course at the clinic, which taught good nutrition and health. Additionally, the community put on plays occasionally and many were health themed. For instance, in May of 1937, a health play on the prevention and cure of malaria was put on while members of the community awaited local election results.27 The Skyline Farms School was considered progressive for its time in several areas. Under the Resettlement Administration’s Public Health Section, the school required the immunization and medical examination of students prior to entering school for the first time. In addition, students at Skyline were grouped according to their ability rather than their age, allowing instruction to better suit each student’s needs.28 The school featured courses in vocational trades for boys and home economics for girls. It was relatively rare for high school students to receive this type of instruction at the high school level at the time. In addition to experimental practices, the school boasted one of the first Future Farmers of America (FFA) programs in northern Alabama. By 1943, Skyline’s FFA chapter was involved in reforestation projects to address erosion on farms. They also established a school forest, a seven acre lot provided by FFA to practice and demonstrate fire prevention practices.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms,” published by FERA, located in the collection at the Commissary in Skyline, Alabama. David Campbell and David Coombs, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” Appalachian Journal (Spring 1983): 248.
27 28 26 25
“Skyline Farms Plan Community Election,” Jackson County Sentinel, May, 6, 1937. Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248.
Although officials in Washington D.C. felt it appropriate for farmers in northeast Alabama to grow a cotton cash crop, the land and climate in northeast Alabama proved unsuitable for growing cotton. Campbell says farmers attempted to switch their primary cash crop to Irish potatoes, but that venture too eventually failed. By the early 1940s, Skyline Farms had begun to decline. In 1938, the Farm Security Administration (FSA) accepted an offer from Dexdale Hosiery Mills of Pennsylvania, allowing the company to operate mills in three of the government’s resettlement projects. Hoping to boost the local economy, the federal government awarded a contract to an Atlanta based company to construct one of the hosiery mills at Skyline Farms. The mill eventually failed due to nylon rationing during World War II. From 1940 to 1945, the newspaper articles cover mostly deaths, births, marriages, vacations, hospital visits, local election results, singings, and other social events. The most interesting stories published in the project’s later years are on Skyline Farms’ participation in the war effort. Farmers were urged to plant peanuts for oil, and more than eighty men from Skyline Farms served in the military during the war. On the homefront, the Skyline community participated in the program for food production needed across the nation. A newspaper article in 1942 highlights their efforts; “With the ability to feed themselves accomplished, Skyline now turns efforts toward that of helping feed the nation…Skyline, we feel is contributing something to the National defense where it counts most.”29 While many believe that decline led to the eventual liquidation of government assets at Skyline Farms, this article printed in 1942 remarks that Skyline farmers were doing well, enjoying a surplus for the first time in the project’s short history. In fact, the article concludes, “There is no limit to the amount of foods and feeds we can contribute considering the size of the community.”30 Campbell argues that in addition to the community’s overall decline, by the 1940s, some members of Congress were starting to question the communal nature of resettlement communities, calling them socialistic. In 1944, the federal government began liquidating the project’s assets. Only two of the original settlers were able to purchase their farms. The rest were sold to private buyers, leaving many of the original settlers homeless once again. In an interview conducted by Dr. David Campbell, one of the original settlers said that he and his family had to resort back to tenant farming after leaving the project and eventually migrated north in search of industrial work.31 Interestingly, the number of times Skyline Farms is mentioned in either the Jackson County Sentinel or The Progressive Age drops significantly in the 1940s. Clearly the entrance of the United States in World War II in 1941 took precedence, but it is interesting that the decline and liquidation of Skyline Farms is hardly mentioned. Skyline Farms Craft and Music Traditions Both music and crafts played an important role in community life at Skyline Farms, Alabama. From the colony’s establishment, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration
29 30 31
“Skyline Farms Answers Demands for Food,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 31, 1942. Ibid.
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” unpublished manuscript located in the collection of David Campbell papers, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
(FERA) realized the importance of implementing programs that would foster a sense of togetherness among colonists in their rural community projects. Creating a sense of togetherness and a means for colonists to bond with one another was critical to the success of Skyline. Many of the colonists that relocated to Skyline did not know one another, so creating social opportunities in a community setting offered a chance for colonists to bond. “Carl Taylor, a rural sociologist employed with the Subsistence Homestead Division, believed strongly in creating this sense of community. His ideas reflect the theory that went into the planning of Skyline Farms,” argued David Campbell. “Taylor believed that ‘community consciousness’ would bind together new communities.”32 The community of Skyline Farms bonded together through a series of public activities common to the Appalachian area, including handicrafts, folk music, and dance. Handicrafts Handicrafts, such as furniture making, quilting, and sewing, were heavily emphasized at Skyline Farms. Campbell argues that participating in crafts would not only “serve as a source of community pride,” but the crafts that were produced could be sold, providing additional income to colonists.33 Handicrafts were gendered at Skyline, as men participated in furniture making, while women practiced sewing and quilting. One of the more distinct handicrafts of Skyline was the craft of furniture making. Most of the furniture in the colony homes was built by J. A. Houston in a small shop, which had “as its only machine a homemade lathe” (see figure 1).34 Houston and perhaps others made many different kinds of furniture, including cabinets, bedsteads, tables, and chairs. The chairs were fashioned in the traditional Appalachian style. “Comfort is the defining feature of a traditional southern Appalachia chair,” argues Patrick Velde. “The Appalachian chair, marked by rear posts which bend backwards and away from the woven seat, allows the sitter to lean back and engage in contemplative sitting.”35 The rear posts that bend slightly backwards and the woven seats are characteristics of the chairs made at Skyline (see figures 2 and 3). A 1917 instructional article on how to reseat a chair by Harriet Cushman Wilkie contains an illustration that closely resembles one of the styles of chairs made at Skyline (see figure 3).
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” unpublished manuscript located in the collection of David Campbell papers, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline Alabama.
33 34 32
Harold L. Fisher, “Nearly 200 Contented Families Find Homes on Cumberland Mountain Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, 3 December 1936. The newspaper article contains an image of J.A. Houston seated next to several chairs and a bedstead that he built. Patrick Velde, “Woodwork: Chairs,” Craft Revival: Shaping Western North Carolina Past and Present. http://www.wcu.edu/craftrevival/crafts/chairs.html (accessed November 2, 2010).
Figure 1: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Resettled farmer who, under supervision, is making furniture, Jackson County, Alabama.” Source: Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01002069-M3] (Current residents of the Skyline community have identified the man in this photo as Mr. Houston/Emory Houston. He also appears to be the same man pictured in the December 3, 1936 article in the Jackson County Sentinel, however this image identifies the man as J.A. Houston.)
Figure 2: Amy Kostine, photographer. “Skyline Farms chair on display at the Commissary (on loan from the Owens family).”
Figure 3: Harriet Cushman Wilkie, “Reseating Old Chairs.” Source: Hunter Library Digital Collections (http://wcudigitalcollection.cdmhost.com/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/p4008coll2&CISOPTR=1555).
The smaller sized chair depicted in figure 3 was not the only type of chair made at Skyline. There was not a universal style of an Appalachia chair, rather the chairs shared basic characteristics, and the design of the chair was open to the creative interpretation of the crafter. “It is important to note that there was also a generous flexibility of design within the traditional Appalachian style, argued Patrick Velde. “While many southern craftsmen did adhere to the basic requirements of a ‘settin’ chair,’ some employed a variety of unique adaptations; varying the number of slats and posts, adding rockers, or customizing a seat’s weave.”36 Furniture makers at Skyline added rockers to some of the chairs they made (see figure 4). Even the chairs with the rockers still have the rear posts that bend slightly backwards.
Figure 4: “.”Untitled.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-DIG-fsa-8a17266]
Men, women, and children made handicrafts at Skyline. In 1937, the October fair held at Skyline annually offered prizes for the best “crochet work, embroidery work, cut work, tufting and rugs.”37 Children at Skyline also practiced arts and crafts skills. The National Youth Administration taught girls to make “tennis, volley ball, and fish nets for sale or exchange for other similar products.”38
36 37 38
Ibid. “Skyline Farms Community Fair,” Jackson County Sentinel, 5 October 1937.
Fisher. An article in the Jackson County Sentinel reported that photographer, Ben Shahn, photographed the activities of the NYA during his visit to Skyline in 1937.
Community Events Field days, competitions, and square dances were often held at Skyline for entertainment and as an effort to help colonists bond with one another. One of the largest attended events at Skyline was the annual Fourth of July picnic. This event was open to all residents of Jackson County, and was heavily advertised in the newspapers. The event opened Skyline Farms to anyone who was curious about the community and its progress, and it also provided various sources of food and entertainment, including “baking, barbeque, music and two ball games.”39 The event was first held in 1935 and was met with great success. A newspaper reported, “The Cumberland Farms was the scene of one of the biggest picnics on the 4th of any picnic that has been held in this county in many years. The crowd was estimated from 2,500 to 5,000 people.”40 The picnic was not just to provide entertainment, but also served to promote the success of the colony. The same newspaper article that reported the attendance also gave a lengthy positive description of the progress of the colony. The picnic was held in following years and continuously met with similar success. Besides Fourth of July picnics, Skyline Farms hosted an annual community fair. On October 10, 1936, the fair at Skyline hosted a series of softball and baseball games and several contests. For entertainment, there were “shooting galleries, fish ponds, [and a] fortune-telling both.”41 There was also an exhibit of furniture made by J. A. Houston, which was “expected to be one of the most outstanding displays of the fair.”42 Other activities included: “a baby show, a wheel barrow race, pie eating contests, three legged race, hog calling contest, watermelon eating contests, long jumps, potato race, sack race, and horse shoe pitching.”43 Women were encouraged to participate in a canning competition as well. A “huge crowd of people” attended the 1936 fair.44 Subsequent fairs offered more activities and competitions. Music and Dance Folk music is an integral part of Appalachian life, and is learned through aural transmission. Songs are typically learned by listening to another musician perform. Once the song is learned by ear, it is then performed from memory. George Carney, an expert on folk music, argues that there are two requirements of a folk song, “One is that the origin of the melody must be unknown to the performer. A second requirement is that the melody and lyrics exist in variant forms.”45 Stringed instruments, such as the fiddle, banjo, dulcimer, guitar and mandolin, became an essential part of Appalachian folk music.
“Fourth of July to be Celebrated at Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, 25 June 1936.
“Cumberland Mountain Scene of Big Fourth: The Largest Crowd in Years Attends Celebration; Day is Enjoyed.” 11 July 1935. Newspaper title unknown, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama. 41 Cumberland Farms Community Fair,” Jackson County Sentinel, 8 October 1936.
42 43 44
“Skyline Farms Community Fair.” Unknown date and newspaper title, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
Skyline Farms had a strong folk music and dance tradition. Taylor advocated the idea of folk music as a way of bringing a community together, since music “served as a means of ‘selfexpression’ and ‘relaxation.’”46 The RA offered several opportunities for colonists to bond through music and dance. The Special Skills Division “sent a teacher to Skyline Farms to give instruction in folk dancing and music.”47 Charles Seeger, father of Pete Seeger and a music advisor in the Special Skills Division of the RA, believed that “proletarian music is an integral part of the question of social evolution. ‘Music,’ he commented, ‘is one of the cultural forms through which the work of humanizing and preparation operates. Thus, it becomes ‘a weapon in the class struggle.’”48 Seeger was responsible for placing a “teacher” at Skyline Farms, and his placement of a teacher helped foster the development and success of music and dance at Skyline Farms. As part of a job assignment with the RA Music Program, Seeger attended the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville, North Carolina in 1936.49 The festival was created and organized by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1928. Seeger was impressed by Lunsford’s festival and the quality of the musicians and dancers that performed there. He eventually hired Lunsford “as a field worker for the Music Program.”50 After participating in a “two-week training session, under Seeger, in Washington,” Lunsford was given the primary assignment of teaching and promoting dance and music at Skyline Farms.51 Lunsford was a lawyer, musician (banjo player and singer), festival promoter, and an Appalachian folk music historian. He was known as the “Minstrel of the Appalachians.” 52 While defending a client who had been accused of moonshining in 1920, Lunsford wrote one of his most famous songs, “Mountain Dew” or “Old Mountain Dew.”53 The song was released in 1928, and covered by famous singers, Lulu Belle and Scotty Wiseman, among others.54 Lunsford was a “walking library of Appalachian arts,” argued historian Loyal Jones. “He was a remarkable performer, recording more than 300 songs, tunes and tales from memory for posterity. But more importantly to him, he sought to present what he considered to be the best of mountain performers to a public that was growing away from the old folk traditions,” and he presented them at his Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville from year to year.55
David Campbell and David Coombs, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” Appalachian Journal (Spring 1983): 249.
47 48 46
Loyal Jones, Minstrel of Appalachians: The Story of Bascom Lamar Lunsford (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002), 120.
49 50 51 52 53 54
Ibid. Ibid., 121. Ibid 67, 121. Ibid, 93. Ibid., 34.
Ibid. Lunsford’s version of “Mountain Dew” was reportedly used as the first advertising theme for the beverage of the same name, Mountain Dew.
Skyline Farms offered numerous events promoting music and dance, and Lunsford was an integral component to the success of the events and the music and dance tradition at Skyline Farms. There was always some sort of music or dance event occurring on any given day or night at Skyline. Fiddlers’ conventions were held at the Cumberland Mountain Farms School auditorium, offering a chance to win prizes.56 In addition to these conventions, a square dance was held every Friday evening.57 On September 25, 1936, Cumberland Mountain Farms hosted a “Negro Minstrel,” which offered “vocal solos, duets, quartets, buck dancing, banjo picking, string music and the usual end men with their stories.”58 In all likelihood these performers were whites in blackface, a common form of entertainment at the time. After the minstrel, the usual Friday evening square dance was held. Musicians from Skyline Farms were even broadcasted over the WAPI radio station in Birmingham, Alabama on August 1, 1936 from 5:00pm to 6:00pm. The Jackson County Sentinel reported, “The Night Riders band is one of the best string bands in the South and has made appearances at many places over the country and they are of course, a regular feature at the colony. Wherever the Night Riders appear they always make a hit and are invited and urged to come back again.”59 Lunsford introduced singers and dancers from all over the region to the programs at Skyline Farms. At one particular event, according to a local newspaper advertisement, “Mr. Tom Starkey of Hollywood and Mr. Sherman Crye of Sand Mountain are invited to bring a team of square dancers… Mrs. James McClain, an excellent fiddler, will render several old time tunes such as ‘Roaring River,’ ‘Grey Eagle,’ and ‘Rocky Road to Diner’s house’” (see figure 5).60 The Skyline Farms band and dancers did not just perform locally. Lunsford invited the Skyline Farms band and dancers to perform at his Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in Asheville in August 1937.61 The announcement was made at a local event held in the Skyline Farms school auditorium in front of a crowd of approximately 350 people on March 9, 1937 by Lunsford himself. 62 The Asheville appearance was the first of several significant concerts for the Skyline musicians and dancers.
“Old-Time Fiddlers Convention,” Jackson County Sentinel, unknown date, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
57 58 56
Campbell and Coombs, 249.
“Cumberland Farms to have Big Negro Minstrel,” 24 September 1936, newspaper title unknown, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
“Night Riders Over WAPI Radio,” Jackson County Sentinel, 6 August 1936.
“String Music and Play at Skyline Farms March 9,” unknown date and newspaper title, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama. “Mountain Dance and Folk Festival,” Folk Heritage Committee, May 2010, http://www.folkheritage.org/ourhistory.htm (accessed November 9, 2010). The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival was established in 1928 and has continued annually ever since. It is the “oldest continuously running folk festival in the nation,” and continues to showcase Appalachian music, dance, and culture. “Skyline Square Dance Team to Attend Ashville Festival,” unknown date and newspaper, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
Figure 5: Ben Shahn, photographer. “Mrs. Mary McLean, Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33- 006295-M2
On August 5, 1937, twenty-nine musicians and dancers from Skyline left for the festival.63 They performed for an audience of 2,000 to 5,000 people “from every state in the union” and representing five foreign countries.64 Artist and photographer, Ben Shahn of the Special Skills Division, was present at the festival too. He was impressed by the Skyline band and dancers, and visited the colony at a later date to photograph the musicians and dancers (see figure 6 and 7).
“Musicians and Dancers from Skyline Farms Visit Asheville, North Carolina,” Jackson County Sentinel, 17 August 1937. The following people attended: Mr. and Mrs. W. I. Floyd, Mr. and Mrs. Otis Sharp, Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Anderson, Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Waldrop, Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Sentell, Mr. and Mrs. Elton Kennamer, Mr. and Mrs. Verbon Hodges, Mis Vesta Paradise, Miss Maude Lindsay, Miss Opal Holsenback, J. S. Shavers, Sister Ada Clarke, Jack Bradley, Mrs, Robin Adair, Pronce Whorton, Oakland Paradise and Orville. O’Shields. The band was composed of N. L. Green, Chester Allen, Thomas Holt, Joe Sharp, Clifford Anderson, and R. Rousseau.
Figure 6: Ben Shahn, photographer. “Square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-006289-M2]
Figure 7: Ben Shahn, photographer. “Young musician at Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-006289-M2]
The Skyline Farms band and dance team performed at 8:00 pm on the first two nights of the festival. The band performed several times on the closing night as well. In addition to performing on stage, the Skyline band was the only band from the festival that was broadcasted over the radio. The broadcast lasted from 11:45 to 12:00 on Saturday morning.65 Elton Kennamer, a member of the Skyline dance team, was sightseeing forty miles from Asheville when he heard the broadcast coming from the radio of a parked car. He reportedly “heard a dog barking over the radio. Immediately he recognized Chester’s ‘Rattler’ and he and his entire party swarmed around the automobile to listen.”66 The success at Asheville encouraged Skyline dancers and musicians to continue performing their music beyond the Cumberland Mountain. The following year, the Skyline dancers and musicians were given another opportunity, one far more prestigious than the festival at Asheville. Eleanor Roosevelt, the nation’s First Lady, invited the Skyline band and dance team to perform in Washington, D. C. at a White House garden party. The Jackson County Sentinel reported, “Chester Allen, famous comedian musician, received a special invitation to the affair and will do his stuff with a new number or two.”67 Approximately thirty members of the Skyline community departed on May 10, 1938 for Washington, D. C.,68 with expenses paid by the federal government.69 The Skyline band and dance team performed on May 12th on the White House lawn.70 The Jackson County Sentinel reported: The White House grounds rang with mountain music, hound dog wails and the shuffle of dancing feet Thursday. Twenty-two Alabama boys and girls who helped homestead a hilltop to escape the depression, sang, danced and fiddled for 2,323 garden party guests. The gingham-clad girls and coatless boys who “Threaded the Needle” and “Rang Up Four” were young folks from Skyline Farms, a government aided community near Scottsboro, Alabama. Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was entertaining women executives of government departments announced her entertainment had come 750 miles by car to “play” just as they do regularly on Friday nights in their own community house…in the Lower Cumberland Mountains. Ike Floyd, smiling homesteader in charge of timber-cutting in the community was master of ceremonies.
65 66 67 68
Ibid. Ibid. “Group from Skyline Farms On Way To Washington, D.C.,” Jackson County Sentinel, 10 May 1938.
Joyce Money Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms: Success or Failure?” (Master’s thesis, Alabama A&M University, 1978), 25. The following members of the Skyline community were present at the White House garden party: Mr. and Mrs. W. I. Floyd, Willie Rodgers, Opal Holsonback, Mrs. A. Walker, Prince Whorton, Mrs. E. E. Wilson, John Lindsey, J. W. Holmand, Edith Green, Mr. and Mrs. Elton Kennamer, Mr. and Mrs. N. E. Waldrop, Walter Freeman, Juanita Jarnagin, Jane Floyd, M. L. Lands, Mr. and Mrs. Otis Sharpe, Mr. and Mrs, W. N. Ross, H. L. Green, Joe Sharpe, Clifford Anderson, Thomas Holt, Reuben Rousseau, and Chester Allen (Old Rattler).
Campbell and Coombs, 249.
“Group from Skyline Farms On Way To Washington, D.C,” unknown date and title, article part of collection at the Commissary, accessed at the Commissary, Skyline, Alabama.
Not the least self conscious, a six-piece orchestra began with “Alabama Jubilee,” When they played “Fox Chase,” Chester Allen who doubled on the fiddle and guitar wailed like a dog. Then the tune “Cacklin Hen” and Allen’s voice still did tricks. Eight couples danced the figures kept alive in the South despite the modern round dances.71 The Washington Post also covered the performance. It reported: A highlight of the afternoon’s entertainment was the program of mountain music and old fashioned square dances presented on the improvised stage at one side of the lawn. Twenty-two Alabama boys and girls came 750 miles by automobile from Skyline Farms near Scottsboro, Ala. to put on the program… Master of ceremonies was Ike Floyd, homesteader in charge of timber-cutting in the community. As he called the figures eight couples “waved the ocean, waved the sea,” “opened and shut the garden gate,” and “circled left,” while the six-piece string orchestra made mountain music. The “fox chance” duet in which Chester Allen starred, was one of the first numbers in the program that began with “Alabama Jubilee” and concluded with an “Over the Mountain” song. Judging by the thunder of applause following each performance, the gingham-clad girls and coatless boys were highly successful as entertainers.72 According to Chester Allen’s son, Roger, when Chester performed at the White House, “the President laughed so hard and was so amused by Chester’s ‘bark’ he could not quit slapping his knee.”73 In addition to performing, the Skyline band also recorded several songs for Alan Lomax, director of the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song. The trip was a huge success.74 The following year, the Skyline dancers performed again at the White House. The Roosevelts invited Lunsford for a special performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. This was the first time a reigning British Monarch visited the United States of America. Mrs. Roosevelt wanted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to hear a variety of American music. She invited numerous singers and musicians besides Lunsford, including Marian Anderson, Lawrence Tibbett, Kate Smith, and Alan Lomax.75 This was certainly a highlight of Lunsford’s extensive career. For the special occasion, Lunsford brought Sam Queen, Queen’s Soco Gap Dancers, and the Skyline Farms dancers.76 This performance was an incredible and rare
“Skyline Farms Group Make a Hit in Washington,” Jackson County Sentinel, 17 May 1938.
Hope Ridings Miller, “Cabinet Wives. Including Mmes. Morsenthau. Swanson, Wallace, Roper and Miss Perkins Assist First Lady as Hostesses,” The Washington Post, 13 May 1938. Interview with Roger Allen by Middle Tennessee State University graduate student Katie Randall, September 9, 2010. Skyline Farms Band recordings are available in the Archive of American Folk Culture at the Library of Congress, AFS 2943A1-2945B, which contains three discs and eleven songs. See http://www.loc.gov/folklife/guides/Alabama.html for additional details.
75 76 74 73
Jones, 71. Ibid.
opportunity for the Skyline Farms dancers. They were known for their talent locally and had performed at large scale events before, but never for reigning monarchs. Several members of the Skyline band went on to a certain amount of success in the music industry. Joe Sharp, the guitarist and mandolinist of the Skyline Farms band, became famous for his version of “Cotton Mill Colic,” recorded by Alan Lomax in 1938 for the Library of Congress’s Archive of American Folk Song project. David McCarn had originally recorded “Cotton Mill Colic” in May 1930. McCarn was laid off from his job as a textile worker in Victory Yarn Mills in South Gastonia, North Carolina. McCarn told two interviewers in 1961 that he wrote the song “due to the conditions of the textile mills in the South at that time and the hard times we was having…things were just about that bad.”77 His former mill superintendent did not see the humor in the satirical song when he heard it and blacklisted McCarn from the mill.78 “Cotton Mill Colic” struck a chord with many people who could relate to the lyrics. The song was used in a United Textile Workers union rally in Danville, Virginia.79 The song reached Southern Appalachia through aural traditions and radio broadcasts. Sharp learned the song and recorded it for Lomax during his visit to Washington, D.C. in 1938. Historian Peter Huber argued, “[Sharp’s version] came to be enshrined as the definitive aural version of the song.”80 In 1941, Lomax published a transcription of Sharp’s version of the song in his anthology, Our Singing Country: A Second Volume of American Ballads and Folk Songs.81 Chester Allen, a member of the Skyline Farms band, appeared on the Renfro Valley Barn Dance, which was a popular country music stage show that was broadcasted over CBS radio every Saturday. The show moved from Ohio to Mount Vernon, Kentucky in November 1939; therefore, Allen most likely performed on the Ohio stage. Thousands of people from all over the country attended the show, and thousands more listened in over the radio. Allen performed with artists such as Red Foley and Ernest Tubb. According to Chester Allen’s son, Roger Allen, “When Chester played with Red Foley and saw Foley’s extensive wardrobe, having only one suit of his own, Chester was so embarrassed, he crouched in a corner until it was his time to play.”82 Allen also performed on the ABC affiliate of Chicago known as WLS.83 He also “recorded for Victor on the Bluebird label.”84 His most well known hit recording was “New Huntsville Jail.”85 Allen is listed as a Music Achiever in the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
Patrick Huber, Linthead Stomp: The Creation of Country Music in the Piedmont South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 200.
78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 77
Ibid., 202. Ibid., 209. Ibid., 210. Ibid. Ibid. Roger Allen. Country Music Who’s Who (Nashville: Record World Publications, 1971), H-29. Ibid.
Skyline Farms as Documented by New Deal Photographers Between 1935-1943, Roy Emerson Stryker directed a group of photographers for the Resettlement Administration, later absorbed into the Farm Security Administration. Stryker’s photographers created over 270,000 images, depicting the lives of ordinary Americans across the country.86 “We tried to present the ordinary in an extraordinary manner,” argued photographer, Ben Shahn. “But that’s a paradox, because the only thing extraordinary about it was that it was so ordinary. Nobody had ever done it before, deliberately. Now it’s called documentary.”87 Shahn was one of three Resettlement Administration photographers who photographed Skyline Farms (formally Cumberland Mountain Farms) between 1935 and 1937. The photographs taken by these three men capture the “ordinary” lives of the colonists of Skyline Farms, and serve as an exemplary case study into the methodology of Stryker and his photographers. In 1935, the Resettlement Administration was established as a New Deal program and was directed by Rexford G. Tugwell, a professor of economics at Colombia University, who was a close advisor to Roosevelt.88 Tugwell was well aware that some of the programs administered by the RA would be unpopular, so he created the Informational Division, which was to showcase the RA’s successes. In order to showcase the benefits of some of the programs that Tugwell knew would be controversial, he wanted to hire someone familiar with photographs, believing that photographs would be the best way to show the public the program’s successes. “Tugwell realized that he would have to rely heavily on photographs to tell the story of the RA. Aware of the importance of familiarizing the public, especially city dwellers, with the plight of the rural poor, he felt that words alone would not create a groundswell of support.”89 He knew photographs would be an effective way to document the problems in America that the program was addressing and bring both the problems and the program’s successes to the eyes of Americans. In his words, “We introduced Americans to America.”90 Tugwell turned to Stryker, his former student turned colleague at Columbia University, for the job. Stryker taught economics at Columbia University, and it was during this time that he began to use photography as a teaching device. He refused to use a textbook to teach his students, instead he brought his students directly to slums, museums, and markets, and when fieldtrips were not an option he turned to photographs as an educational source. 91 Stryker recalled, “I got impatient because the bright boys at Columbia University had never seen a rag doll, corn tester, or an old dasher churn. I dug up pictures to show city boys things that every
Roy Emerson Stryker and Nancy C. Wood, In This Proud Land: America, 1935-1943, as seen in the FSA Photographs (New York: Galahad Books, 1973), 7.
87 88 86
Davis Pratt, The Photographic Eye of Ben Shahn (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1975), x.
Jack F. Hurley, Portrait of a Decade; Roy Stryker and the Development of Documentary Photography in the Thirties (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1972), 30. Michael L. Carlebach, “Documentary and Propaganda: The Photographs of the Farm Security Administration,” The Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 8 (Spring 1988): 15-17.
90 91 89
Stryker and Wood, 9. Ibid., 10-11.
farm boy knows about.”92 Stryker realized early on that photography could educate people in ways that a simple explanation in a textbook could not. Stryker’s interest in photography began to grow. Tugwell allowed Stryker to organize photographs for his book, American Economic Life. Stryker collaborated with the famous photographer Lewis Hine on the project, and it was Hine’s approach to photography that inspired Stryker’s direction of his photographers for the FSA.93 Stryker’s use of photography in the classroom, his keen ability to select appropriate photographs for a given topic, and his understanding of economics led Tugwell to recruit Stryker for the job. In 1935, Tugwell hired Stryker and gave him the title, Chief of the Historical Section.94 His job description was vague and called upon him to “direct the activities of investigators, photographers, economists, sociologists and statisticians…to make accurate descriptions of the various… phases of the Resettlement Administration, particularly with regard to the historical, sociological and economic aspects of the several programs and their accomplishments.” 95 At first, Stryker was unsure exactly what his job was supposed to encompass. He chose photography as a starting point, and he hired Arthur Rothstein to fill the photographic requirement.96 At first, Rothstein was ordered to photograph virtually every piece of paper that was associated with Stryker and his office.97 Stryker never managed to hire any economists or sociologists. Instead, he focused on photography. He knew that his job required him to gain public support for the RA’s programs, and since he had used photography in the classroom to educate his students in the past, he knew that photography would be perfect for educating the general public. Through photography, the public could see firsthand the plight of many Americans and the success of the RA’s programs. Stryker’s historical section was not the only area of the government to use photographs for documentary purposes. Seventy percent of federal agencies were using photography during the 1930’s. 98 Agencies began competing with one another for photographic resources, such as darkrooms and photographers. Stryker saw this problem early on, confronted Tugwell, and soon was granted complete control over all photographic related matters.99 Stryker was now able to oversee the complete photographic process, from the hiring of the photographers, what was being photographed, and how it would reach the public. Stryker’s complete control over the photographic matters separated his photographers and their work from other federal government agencies’ photographs.
92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
Ibid., 11. Ibid. Hurley, 36. Ibid., 36. Ibid., 37. Ibid, 30. Stryker and Wood, viii. Ibid., 38-39.
Rothstein was not only Stryker’s first photographer, but he was also the first to photograph Skyline Farms. One of Rothstein’s first assignments was to photograph life in the Appalachian Mountains.100 He departed for his assignment in the fall of 1935 and extensively photographed the region using a 35mm camera. On August 28, 1935, Rothstein wrote to Stryker and said, “After I am finished with Louisiana, I will continue to the Cumberland Farms, Alabama and the Irwinville Farms, Georgia.”101 Rothstein photographed the colony in the beginning of September focusing on the new colonists and the construction occurring at the colony. Rothstein’s set of photographs told the story of the establishment of the colony, from beginning to end, and the people involved. Among the images are photographs of individuals who were selected for relocation to Skyline Farms (See Figure 1-4). Rothstein took several images of women and children who were going to be relocated to Skyline in the near future. Most are portraits of individuals located outside their homes, but Rothstein also photographed at least one women inside her current residence (See Figure 5).
Figure 1: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Wife of sharecropper who will be resettled on Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002081-M2].
Letter from Arthur Rothstein to Roy E. Stryker, 28 August, 1935, Roy Stryker Papers, University of Louisville Library, Special Collections.
Figure 2: Untitled. Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33- 002082-M3].
Figure 3: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Son of sharecropper to be resettled on Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-002082-M4].
Figure 4: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Wife and children of resettled farmer, Jackson County, Alabama. Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002070-M4].
Figure 5: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Wife of sharecropper to be resettled on Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002081-M1].
Rothstein also photographed several colonists in the production of building colony homes. He photographed both the sawmill and men working in a stone quarry on the property (See Figure 6-13). The titles of some of the images can also offer insight into the story Rothstein and the RA was trying to tell about the community. The title of one particular photograph states, “Sawmill. New houses are built with timber cut on the project,” which would give insight to the public about the self-sufficiency of the community.
Figure 6: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Sawmill. New houses are built with timber cut on the project.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-T01000479-D]. (Current residents of the Skyline community have identified the man in the middle as W.I. Floyd)
Figure 7: Untitled. Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002081-M4].
Figure 8: Untitled. Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002083-M3].
Figure 9: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Cutting wood for shingles, Jackson County, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33- 002071-M2].
Figure 10: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Clearing land by burning stumps, Skyline Farms, Alabama.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002082-M1].
Figure 11: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Farmers who have been resettled at Skyline Farms, at work in sand pit.” Source: Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-T01-002065-M2].
Figure 12: Untitled. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33- 002089-M4].
Figure 13: Untitled. Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF33-002090-M4].
In addition to photographing future colonists and the construction of colony homes, Rothstein photographed the temporary shacks built to house the new colonists, and, to complete the story, he photographed a completed colony home (see Figure 14 and 17). The contrast between the temporary shack and the new colony home is striking. If the photographs were viewed side by side, then it would have cast the RA’s program and Skyline Farms in a positive light and showed the progress of the colony. This was most likely the purpose of the photographs.
Figure 14: Arthur Rothstein, photographer. “Family of resettlement farmer living in temporary shack while new house is being built.” Source: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-T01-000478-D]
Five months later, Stryker gave Rothstein instruction on what to photograph at Gardendale Homesteads, located near Birmingham, Alabama and known for its unique rammed earth housing. “We have received word that fifty families will be moved into Gardendale and other projects,” Stryker wrote to Rothstein. “It is very important that you get a good set of pictures of this move. By all means, try to find out from where the families are coming and obtain a set of pictures that will show the progress from old home to new.”102 This instruction describes exactly what Rothstein photographed at Skyline. All in all, Rothstein’s images portrayed Skyline Farms in a positive light and showed the rapid progress of the community, which, in turn, portrayed the government’s programs as successful. The photographs serve as a photographic documentary of the establishment of the colony and the building methods implemented. Rothstein made at least one more trip to Skyline Farms in 1937. Rothstein was working in Birmingham, Alabama in February. “I am trying to get hold of all the additional jobs which you can do while working out of Birmingham,” wrote Stryker to Rothstein. “I am doing this because I would like to have you hold up until I get there before you start in on new jobs in Region VI. In view of this, I suggest that you go to the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Alabama.”103 Rothstein took images relating to community life during this trip, including images of the cooperative store, the school, and several colonists (See Figures 18-22, pages 51-53). Stryker may have advised Rothstein to take photographs of specific things that Rothstein missed the first time he visited,
Letter from Roy E. Stryker to Arthur Rothstein, 5 February 1937, Roy Stryker Papers, University of Louisville Library, Special Collections, Louisville, Kentucky. Letter from Roy E. Stryker to Arthur Rothstein, 3 March 1937, Roy Stryker Papers, University of Louisville Library, Special Collections, Louisville, Kentucky.
since Rothstein seemingly took photographs of everything he did not on the first trip. The two sets of photographs serve as a more complete representation of the colony, from the transition of homesteaders to the colony to the representation of everyday life in the colony. The second RA photographer to photograph Skyline Farms was Carl Mydans. Mydans had a background in journalism and previously worked for the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.104 He was deeply interested in the ordinary person and their everyday life. “With his trained reporter’s eye, Mydans quickly developed a style of his own that fitted his people oriented approach,” argued historian F. Jack Hurley. “With his small cameras, he was able to achieve pictures that were striking yet intimate.”105 Mydans arrived in Skyline in 1936, one year after Rothstein.106 True to his style and interest, Mydans photographed people at Skyline, and the majority of his photographs depict school scenes (see Figures 23-30, pages 54-57). Most of the photographs portray children engaged in various school related activities, such as reading and writing. The photographs certainly portray the newly built schools at Skyline and the school system in a positive light. The children appear very studious, and the teachers are appear to be actively engaged with the students. This was most likely one of Mydans’s last assignments for Stryker, since he left the RA to work for Life magazine later that year. In 1937, a third RA photographer, Ben Shahn, photographed Skyline Farms. Shahn was not a photographer. He was a painter, designer, and muralist. He worked under the Special Skills Division of the RA. Shahn took photographs while traveling through the South to use as references for upcoming art projects. He never intended his images to be used for anything else. Stryker happened to see some of his photos, and received Shahn’s permission to place them on file at the historical section, giving Shahn access to them whenever he wished. 107 Shahn also utilized a 35mm camera, but what made his images unique was his use of an angle finder. In an interview, Shahn explained, “I would look this way and by refraction of what they call an angle finder I would take away any self-consciousness they had. So, most of my pictures don’t have any posed quality and this was a very helpful thing in the whole quality of my work, this angle finder.”108 Shahn’s images of a square dance at Skyline Farms show the spontaneity of his style. A short article in the Jackson County Sentinel acknowledged Shahn’s visit to Skyline on August 11, 1937. The article reported that Shahn “saw the dance team and heard the band in Asheville, N.C. [Shahn] seemed to be favorably taken with this feature of Skyline Farms and made it a point to come on here for further details.”109 The majority of Shahn’s photographs from
104 105 106
Hurley, 42. Ibid.
The Library of Congress dates the images to June 1936, but LIFE has several listed with the date January 1, 1936.
Oral history interview with Ben Shahn, 14 April 1964, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/oralhistories/transcripts/shahn64.htm, 31 October 2010. “Resettlement Official Photographs Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, 17 August 1937. When Shahn visited Skyline Farms, he most likely was not working directly under Stryker. He only worked directly under Stryker for a short time while photographing in Ohio. The Mountain Folk Festival at Asheville, North Carolina were Shahn saw the Skyline Band and dance team was an event sponsored by the Special Skills Division. This was the division Shahn worked for and likely explains his presence at the festival.
the visit depict a square dance and various musicians (see Figures 31-35, pages 58-60). The newspaper reported that Shahn was “making photographs of the community activities of various Resettlement projects [throughout the] country.”110 Although Shahn took extensive amounts of photographs of the square dance and musicians, he also photographed folk crafts, such as chair making. He also “took pictures of the N.Y.A boys and girls and their activities (see Figures 36-38, pages 61-62).”111 Shahn’s photographs showcase the various community activities and entertainment offered to the colonists in a positive light. The photographs Shahn took at Skyline are certainly a valuable source of information about Skyline Farms, but they are also an important part of Shahn’s photographic career. Just as Mydans left the RA shortly after photographing Skyline, so too did Shahn. Davis Pratt, curator of photographs at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University argued, “Shahn’s serious involvement with photography was relatively short. When he left the FSA in 1938 he ended his extensive use of photography.”112 The photographs taken of the people at Skyline are likely some of the last photographs Shahn took of people. “In 1959 my wife and I went to Asia, and I took a camera along to do what I had done years ago – photograph people,” wrote Shahn. “I could not get interested in it… I found it was gone. I still love to look at photographs of people, but I couldn’t make them myself anymore.”113 Although one of the reasons Shahn left was because of his lack of interest in photographing people, he also was not fond of some of Stryker’s methods. Stryker exerted immense control over his photographers, which can be seen in some of the images of Skyline Farms. Arguably, one of the most startling and controversial to his photographers was his use of a hole-puncher. Stryker punched a hole into negatives he deemed substandard or redundant, “a process they called ‘killing’ the image.”114 The punched hole insured that the image would never be printed and seen by the public. “So he sat down with his hole-puncher and made his choices. That did not sit well with the photographers,” argued Beverly Brannan, a curator of photography in the Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs Division.115 No photographer was immune to Stryker’s hole punch, and this process greatly upset the photographers, but finally ended in 1939. Ben Shahn recounted his feelings of Stryker’s method in an interview: I confess that Roy was a little bit dictatorial in his editing and he ruined quite a number of my pictures, which he stopped doing later. He used to punch a hole through a negative. Some of them were incredibly valuable. He didn’t understand at the time…Anyway, I photographed a front of a store where they, with Bon Ami, had marked the price of things, you see. Later on, during the war, when I was doing some work for the OPA, I
Ibid. The photographs Shahn took of the N.Y.A boys’ and girls’ activities are currently not available through the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Online Division.
112 113 114
Pratt, x. Ibid., x-xi.
Meg Smith, “Hard Times in Sharp Focus: Online Collection Shows America, 1935-1945,” Library of Congress, Library of Congress, August 1998, http://www.loc.gov/loc/lcib/9808/fsa-osi.html, 31 October, 2010.
wanted to show what happened to prices (the prices were fantastically low at that time) and I went to look for that negative and he punched a hole through it. Well, I shot my mouth off about that. But, I didn’t know what was doing with a lot of my negatives, naturally. He learned, then, not to do that, you see, because this was an invaluable document of what life was like in 1935 and when I was looking for it in 1943 or ’44 it didn’t exist anymore.116 Examples of the “killed” images can be seen within the photographs of Skyline Farms. A look at a series of photographs of the same subject illustrates Stryker’s selection process and gives insight into the methods used by the photographer. Arthur Rothstein photographed three children outside of a colony house at Skyline Farms in September 1935 (See Figures 39-41, pages 62-63). Rothstein, like many other photographers, took multiple pictures of the same subject. Figure 40 is a close-up image, while the other two are taken at more of a distance, showcasing more of the house. There are only subtle differences between Figure 39 and Figure 41, mainly in the facial expression of the child in the middle. These subtle changes made all the difference to both the photographer and Stryker. Each small change could elicit a completely different mood in the photograph. Although a photographer may have had his or her favorite photo out of a series, the final decision ultimately came down to what Stryker chose. In the case of this set, Stryker approved one of the three. Most likely this was a case of redundancy, in which Stryker chose what he believed to be the best one, however, Stryker complained continuously about the quality of Rothstein’s images. In a letter to Rothstein on February 5, 1937, Stryker argued: Now get busy and use your imagination, camera, and intelligence on this job and turn out a good set of pictures for us. If they aren’t good, you may look forward to having your ears knocked off when I arrive down there, and I can assure you they will be cut close to the head as I came counting on this set of pictures to sell to the Herald Tribune or the New York Times rotogravure. Don’t give me any of your arguments about the fact that it isn’t clear or that the country is level, or that the wind blew or that it was raining. I want pictures and damn good ones, You will observe that I am getting a “city editor complex.” I am pounding the table while dictating this letter to Miss Slackman. Don’t think I am fooling about this either because I am not.117 There was not a set placement of where Stryker would punch the hole into the negative. Sometimes the hole was punched directly into the center of an image, while other times it was off to the side. Stryker was also not indifferent to punching a hole directly at a focal point of the image, such as a face or prices listed in Shahn images. The Skyline Farms “killed” images have been hole-punched in many different places, which do not illustrate any particular pattern used by Stryker (See Figures 42-46, pages 64-66).118
116 117 118
Oral history interview with Ben Shahn. Letter from Roy E. Stryker to Arthur Rothstein, 5 February 1937.
There are several examples of “killed” images of Skyline Farms available on the Library of Congress Web site, but all are untitled. The images can be found by first searching the Prints and Photographs Online Division (keyword: Skyline Farms Alabama), then clicking on an image, and then selecting, “Browse neighboring items by call number.” All of the images taken of Skyline Farms are not currently available on the Library of Congress Web site, although it offers the most extensive collection available online.
The photographs of Skyline Farms are not just an important photographic documentary of the colony and the people that lived there, but it is also serves as an excellent case study of Stryker’s selection process, and an important aspect of the end of Mydans’s and Shahn’s photographic careers with the RA, since they soon left after photographing Skyline. Skyline Through the Eyes of the Colonists The remnants of the Skyline Farms resettlement colony encompassed more than sandstone buildings, barns, farm tools, commissary records and photographs. The memories of former colony residents and the legacy of improved education and transportation on Cumberland Mountain corroborated the historical significance of Skyline Farms. Oral histories of area residents enhanced understanding of the hardships of the Great Depression and informed evaluation of the success of Skylines Farms resettlement experiment. Skyline School, established as an elementary school in 1936, satisfied an urgent need for education on Cumberland Mountain.119 The road to Skyline Farms, hewn by hand from the side and top of Cumberland Mountain in the mid 1930s, connected residents in the lowlands to the mountaintop. It also created a badly needed route by which mountain residents later traveled to jobs in the nearby Tennessee River Valley. Eventually the road created a means by which isolated Appalachian residents connected to the outside world. Inclusion of historic memory and legacies within the broader historical context informed the understanding of the significance of the New Deal resettlement experiment. In the 1980s sociologists David Campbell and David Coombs conducted oral interviews with seventeen participants in the Skyline Farms project. Relying heavily on those interviews, they produced an article for the Spring, 1983 edition of the Appalachian Journal in which they made a case study of the development of Skyline Farms. The material gleaned from the interviews conveyed a sense of the immense amount of planning and impressive monetary outlay the federal government expended in order to break the cycle of poverty in the lives of the impoverished participants. The governmental agencies on the federal, state and local level acted swiftly to provide relief, jobs, land ownership, recreation, education, health care, and occupational training for those families on the relief rolls in Jackson County, Alabama, during the early years of the Great Depression.120 The oral interviews indicated that the participating families embraced the project enthusiastically and energetically. One participant stated, “I had the place in real good shape. I had taken an interest in it just like it was mine…we cleared the land ourself…and finished our home ourself.”121 Another participant claimed, “We’d worked hard and cleared land, and then we lost it all. We worked so hard at it, I think it broke our health down.”122 In a more recent interview, another former participant related a story about his first experience at school when he was eight years old. He arrived at the Skyline school alone, and stated that he wandered around the halls of the school when he got there because he had
Skyline High School. ''About the school,'' Jackson County, Alabama School District, http://www.skyline.jch.schoolinsites.com/?PageName=%27AboutTheSchool%27 (accessed November 15, 2010). David Campbell and David Coombs, ''Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,'' Appalachian Journal 10 (Spring 1983), 250.
121 122 120 119
Interview with Mr. Virgil Brewer, June 30, 1981, in Campbell and Coombs, ''Skyline Farms,'' 251. Interview with Mrs. Henry Black ,October 19, 1981, in Campbell and Coombs, ''Skyline Farms,'' 251.
“never been no where like that before.”123 Mrs. Ethaline Woodall related that her husband, James Earl Woodall, helped roof some of the Skyline Farms colony houses. She said her husband and his brothers worked in timber with their father, Walter Woodall, in order to supplement the income they produced on their colony farm.124 The oral histories of Skyline residents, though varied in detail, offered poignant, first hand accounts of historical memory. Within a decade of the establishment of Skyline Farms, the U. S. Department of Agriculture sponsored a sociological comparative study of several resettlement communities to judge their efficacy for the future. Social Research Report No. XI, conducted by Dwight M. Davidson, Jr. and Charles P. Loomis in 1938, provided an analysis of the immediate benefits or failures of the programs instituted at Skyline Farms and five other New Deal resettlement communities, and it anticipated follow-up studies of the successes or failures of those resettlement communities. A statement in the report cited the goal of bringing families on public relief into a better relationship with the land by halting tillage of certain land, promoting different farming methods at other sites, and ending tenancy in favor of ownership of the land in order to provide a more abundant life to program participants.125 Oral history interviews conducted by Campbell and Coombs revealed participants’ experiences, perspectives and evaluations of the success of Skyline Farms after fifty years. These interviews, when compared to the benchmark Social Research Report No. XI, offered surprising revelations about perceived successes and failures of the unprecedented resettlement experiment. One revelation was that many residents were confused about the government’s plans for residents to take title to their colony property. Former residents such as Virgil Brewer and Mrs. Henry Black stated they felt confusion and bitter disappointment when they were evicted from colony houses at the end of the 1930s. Virgil Brewer, moreover, stated that it was one of the greater disappointments of his lifetime.126 In an interview conducted on September 10, 2010, Walter Tidwell he stated he became distrustful of the federal government in 1945, and that he vowed at that time that he would never take another penny from the federal government. He stated he kept that promise all his life. 127 Another former resident, Stanley Black, stated regarding his parents’ experience at Skyline Farms, “They misunderstood. They thought the government was giving them the land to farm free and clear, and the farms were set up only to produce enough for families to live off of, no extra.”128 Campbell and Coombs concluded in the 1980s that the project fell short of early goals, and they asserted that community memory provided a reliable yardstick for measurement of the
Interview with Mr. Stanley Owens by Middle Tennessee State University graduate student Katie Randall, September 9, 2010 at Skyline, Alabama. Interview with Mrs. Ethaline Woodall Middle Tennessee State University graduate student Mona M. Brittingham, September 9, 2010 at Skyline, Alabama. 125 U. S. Department of Agriculture, ''Social Research Report No. XI: Standards of Living of Residents of Seven Rural Resettlement Communities, prepared by Dwight M. Davidson, Jr. and Charles P. Loomis for The Farm Security Administration in cooperation with the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. (Washington, D. C. : Government Printing Office, 1938): Intro 1-3.
126 127 124 123
Campbell and Coombs, ''Skyline Farms,'' 251.
Interview with Mr. Walter Tidwell by Middle Tennessee State University graduate student Amy Kostine, September 9, 2010 at Skyline, Alabama.
Interview with Mr. Stanley Owens.
success or failure of the resettlement experiment.129 Those individual memories, when contrasted with the early federal government documents, broadened the understanding of the unprecedented resettlement experiments’ place in twentieth century American history. Prior to 1930, Jackson County, Alabama was largely agricultural, but a significant portion of unimproved forest predominated the highland plateaus of Cumberland Mountain and Sand Mountain. Although the Cumberland Mountain land was thickly forested and primarily unimproved, there had been settlers living there since the early 19th century. Education of the mountain dwellers was scant, but it existed. The early 20th century schools were generally oneroom schools taught by a single teacher who commuted from off the mountain and lived during the week with parents of the children. Two early schools on Cumberland Mountain were the Nila School and the Alto School, both established in 1908. These schools continued operation until 1939 when students transferred to the new school built at Skyline Farms.130 According to the Social Research Report No. XI of 1938, the average number of years of formal schooling for the heads of families at Skyline Farms was about four and a half years.131 That statistic suggested that both the plateau residents and the tenant farmers from the lowlands who made up the colony population sacrificed an education in order to earn a subsistence living. The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) provided a means by which the colony residents could break the cycle of poverty through education by setting up a temporary school until a permanent school building could be constructed.132 FERA employed an administrator and six teachers to implement modern teaching techniques such as grouping students by ability and using individualized instruction.133 A permanent school building was opened in 1936, and ten faculty members offered a rich curriculum that included vocational courses such as agriculture and home economics to prepare students for success in the Skyline Farms community. Skyline School added high school grades in the mid 1970s. In 1975 Skyline School graduated seniors for the first time.134 In 2010 Skyline School had thirty-seven teachers, two administrators, and eighteen support staff for five hundred fifty-six students.135 Skyline School continued as a community school for more than seventy years after the Skyline Farms colony disbanded. Former Skyline School teacher Joyce Kennamer concluded that the school was one of the more enduring legacies of the resettlement experiment.136 The establishment of a school at Skyline, Alabama created an historical legacy for future generations of Alabamians.
Campbell and Coombs. “Skyline Farms,’’ 250-1.
Wendell Page, ''One Hundred Schools,'' http://www.wendellpage.com/One Hundred Schools.htm (accessed November 15, 2010).
131 132 133 134
Davidson and Loomis, ''Standards of Living,'' 67. Campbell and Coombs. “Skyline Farms,’’ 248. Ibid, 248.
Joyce Money Kennamer, ''The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms: Success or Failure?'' (Master's thesis, Alabama A&M University, 1978), 33. Skyline School, ''Skyline School Teachers,'' Jackson County Alabama School District, http://skyline.jch.schoolinsites.com/?PageName=%27Teachers%27 (accessed November 15, 2010).
Joyce Money Kennamer, 32.
At the end of the 19th century, Jackson County’s roads consisted of “chunks of limestone and mud holes.”137 At the turn of the 20th century the county sold bonds and built roads in the valley portions of the county.138 However, the county made no progress for improving roadways in the mountain regions, and the mountain roads, which accommodated travelers on stage coach, horseback, mule, ox cart for a century, remained in use139 A six mile rail spur, built in 1879 to serve the Belmont Coal Mines, continued as the connection of the Pierce Coal Mining Company’s mining operations with the St. Louis and Nashville Railroad in 1907. However, the railroad spur provided industrial rather than commercial transportation. Jackson County Probate Judge J. M. Money recognized that poor mountain roads hindered development of Cumberland Mountain. He saw an opportunity to seek federal assistance to begin a road project that would provide jobs to the unemployed men Jackson County. The State of Alabama and the federal government funded the road project, and it started in 1933.140 The building of the road involved the cooperation of the Jackson County Commission, the Probate Judge and several Scottsboro charitable organizations. The project employed 3,500 men and 73 overseers who labored by hand with “…sledge hammers, pick axes, shovels, wheelbarrows…oxen and occasionally dynamite.”141 The workers diligently worked ten-hour days at the rate of one dollar per day, while volunteers such as Mr. Hal Cunningham provided food and transportation for them.142 The building of the road in 1933 served to open Cumberland Mountain to receive the Cumberland Farms resettlement colony, later known as Skyline Farms, the following year. The road further opened the plateau for later commercial development, and the completion of the road connected Cumberland Mountain to Scottsboro, to the Tennessee River Valley, to routes into Middle Tennessee, and to Alabama urban centers such as Huntsville and Birmingham. In the 1960s the state of Alabama built state route 79 to replace portions of the historic Tupelo Road near Skyline Farms with a modern twolane highway. However, remnants of the original highway remained near the Skyline Farms Commissary and Skyline School and in Tupelo Cove in the valley. Several factors affected the outcome of the efforts of the federal, state and local governments to raise the standard of living for Jackson County tenant farmers during the Great Depression. The early assessments that downplayed success of the various federal programs failed to recognize that such poverty and lack of education required generations to reverse. The lack of adequate education of mountain squatters and tenant farmers hampered their efforts to achieve more than a meager subsistence for their families. Also, the lack of a reliable transportation route in and out of Cumberland Mountain stymied development well into the 20 th century. The passage of more than fifty years after the dissolution of Skyline Farms yielded varying perspectives as to the success or failure of the federal government’s resettlement experiment. From its inception, the Cumberland Farms resettlement project included a road system, a school and a community, and those original elements endured for seventy-five years
John Robert Kennamer, Sr., History of Jackson County, Alabama, (1935; repr., Jackson County Historical Association, 1993), 108.
138 139 140 141 142 137
John Robert Kennamer, Sr., 128-30. Ibid, 25-6. Joyce Money Kennamer, 2. Ibid, 3. Ibid, 4.
into the present day. The memories of area residents and the legacy of the present day school and roadways provided evidence of the enduring historical significance of Skyline Farms and yielded a means by which to view the historic significance of the New Deal resettlement experiments. New Deal Architecture at Skyline Farms The structures built for the Resettlement Administration’s Skyline Farms project in Jackson County, Alabama are examples of the architectural styles and building practices typical of New Deal agencies. The use of local materials, such as timber and quarried sandstone, is a signature design element in New Deal projects. The significance of New Deal structures goes well beyond architecture and use of local materials, however. In a chapter called “Community Buildings and Institutions” in New Deal Landscapes in Tennessee: A Guidebook, historian and author Carroll Van West says: The types of buildings constructed to house the wide-ranging community projects and newly established community groups varied in their building materials and architectural style. Some are magnificent examples of labor-intensive stone masonry, while others are grandiose and flamboyant examples of Colonial Revival or Classical Revival style. Still others are one-story, unadorned buildings designed simply to fulfill their function, and little more. Whatever their size, material, or styling, however, New Deal community buildings still speak of the reformers’ hope to uplift rural and urban life, even in the harshest days of the Great Depression.143 The built environment left over from New Deal programs reflects reformers’ ideologies. The structures and changes to rural southern landscapes are evidence of this tumultuous time in America’s past and are a lasting legacy to many New Deal agencies. In the chapter on architecture in the WPA Guide to Tennessee, the authors discuss Cumberland Homesteads located near Crossville, Tennessee, approximately one hundred and twenty-five miles northeast of Skyline Farms. Similar to the Skyline Farms project, the authors describe Cumberland Homesteads, established in 1933, as a subsistence-homesteading project consisting of more than 10,000 acres. More than half of that land was considered suitable for farming. The remainder was left a forested area. The authors describe the nature of home building and materials used at Cumberland Mountain Homesteads. They reported: “[The homesteader] chooses his home from several standard designs. Many of the building materials are obtained on the land.”144 This reliance on local materials and homesteader labor is similar to the process used at Skyline Farms. Cumberland Homesteads adopted a Tudor Revival theme for its stone cottage residences and Skyline Farms featured three-room board and batten dwellings, similar to standardized tenant homes found throughout the region. Moreover, use of existing landscape was approached very differently by the two projects. Phoebe Cutler discusses Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit to Cumberland Homesteads in July
Carroll Van West, Tennessee’s New Deal Landscapes: A Guide Book, (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2001), 80. Federal Writers’ Project, The WPA Guide to Tennessee (1939; reprint, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1986), 164.
of 1934. She says, “The community already displayed the well-ordered and attractive look it bears to this day. Stone houses were set back 75 to 100 feet on lots of about 16 acres with 40foot frontages. The masonry construction, the regularity, and the spaciousness of both the land and the two-story dwellings distinguished this community from the surrounding locale, with its modest one-story wood-frame houses set at random upon a rolling landscape.”145 At Skyline Farms, settlers took the latter approach and built their community in keeping with the locale. Their modest Rustic dwellings were not set up in an ordered fashion but rather “at random upon a rolling landscape.” The Arts and Crafts movement heavily influenced the use of local materials during the New Deal era. In Presenting Nature: The Historic Landscape Design of the National Park Service, 1916 to 1942, National Park Service historian Linda Flint McClelland says, “Practitioners used native materials, seeking designs that harmoniously integrated site, structure, and setting. They followed nature, avoided artificial appearances, capitalized on scenic vistas, used picturesque details, and unified interior spaces with the out-of-doors.”146 McClelland says that the integration of such details was signature of Arts and Crafts philosophy, which she describes as “a unity of home and hearth, community and nation, and dwelling and land.” These tenets of the Arts and Crafts movement are evident at Skyline Farms. McClelland also discusses the “bungalow craze” as it was reflected in National Park Service structures at this time. She says, “The bungalow movement seized upon a variety of styles and types that were part of the naturalistic rustic tradition.”147 The three, four, and five room dwellings constructed at Skyline Farms are Rustic in style, similar to cabins that many other New Deal projects built at state parks across the country. They were clad either in board and batten siding or horizontal plank weatherboard. They were massed-planned, side-gabled or front-gabled single-family homes. The timber was locally sawn and consisted mostly of hardwoods such as oak, poplar, and gumwood. The roofs were made of locally sawn wood shingles, and chimneys were constructed using locally quarried sandstone. All of the building materials used were readily available to farmers on the mountain. The school, administrative office, and commissary at Skyline Farms were also constructed using local materials and are built in the Colonial Revival style. All three buildings were constructed of locally quarried sandstone and feature symmetrical facades and multi-light windows, both elements of the Colonial Revival style. In addition, the Commissary features a pedimented entryway and parapet walls on either end of the building. Colonial Revival was a popular style in the southeastern region of the United States between World War I and World War II. The Great Depression was a time of great instability for most Americans, and in response, many embraced patriotism. Cutler says, “To achieve harmony the nation grasped for the old—the pioneer, the colonial, the Renaissance.”148 Preservation efforts beginning at Colonial Williamsburg also influenced the popularity of the Colonial Revival style.
Cutler, The Public Landscape of the New Deal (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 117.
146 Linda Flint McClelland, Presenting Nature: The Historic Landscape Design of the National Park Service, 1916 to 1942 (Washington D.C.: National Park Service, 1993), 66. 147 Ibid. 148
Cutler, The Public Landscape of the New Deal, 145.
The school also fits into the ideas about the architecture of New Deal schools that West describes. He says: The architecture of the schools by New Deal agencies was functional and progressive, generally following the standardized plans developed in tandem by the Julius Rosenwald Fund, Peabody College professor Fletcher B. Dresslar, and the state Department of Education during the 1920s. Unilateral lighting provided by batteries of windows, closed foundations, sanitary privies, water fountains, and simple, functional design characterized most of the schools. Many were built of frame, while larger consolidated schools were built of brick. In several communities, however, agencies built in locally available stone, not only for the attractive appearance but also because by cutting and shaping the stone, more men were put to work on the projects. In their architectural style, the schools usually were of Colonial Revival, Classical Revival, or PWA Modern design.149 Also, the idea of designing buildings in a style that was popular within a given region is yet another signature of New Deal projects that is reflected at Skyline Farms. For instance, in comparison with structures at Skyline Farms, the Liberty School, located about seventy-five miles northeast in Sequatchie County, Tennessee, is also Colonial Revival in style and relies on the availability of local materials; in this case, the National Youth Administration (NYA) used locally available stone. Regionalism in New Deal architecture, like Rustic style and bungalows, was an influence of the Arts and Crafts movement. McClelland says, [The Arts and Crafts movement] recognized diverse regional features of buildings and sites, such as the Prairie style architecture of the Midwest, the open terraces and patios of the Southwest, and the log construction of pioneers.”150 Missing from this list, as seen at Skyline Farms and Liberty School, is the Colonial Revival style architecture of the Southeast.
West, New Deal Landscapes in Tennessee, 98. Presenting Nature: The Historic Landscape Design of the National Park Service, 1916 to
RESOURCE INVENTORY Property Types Introduction The Skyline Farms community was an 18,000-acre agricultural community formed as a part of New Deal resettlement programs. Individual family farms consisted of at least forty acres with a domestic complex of agricultural outbuildings as well as an agricultural complex of outbuildings and fields. The family farms were spread out across the community with a concentration of community buildings near the community’s core. These buildings included a public school, cooperative commissary, administrative office, cotton gin, warehouse, and medical office. On the periphery of the community were a factory and a stone quarry. Family farms had two broad categories of buildings and/or structures: dwellings and outbuildings. The community had four broad categories of buildings and/or structures: public buildings, agricultural buildings, industrial buildings, cemeteries. The community also has a broad category of objects. The following narrative describes each category and the buildings and/or structures found in each category. 1) Dwellings Dwellings are historic single-family places of human occupation. Bunkhouses. Before good roads were constructed, it was difficult for workers to commute to the project area to clear land for homes and roads. The federal government constructed a bunkhouse for the workers so they could remain at the project site during the week and return home to their families over the weekend. The building was constructed to accommodate sixty men.151 The community plan indicates it would house the first group of twenty-five workers, then once they moved into their homes, a new group would move in, until approximately 200 families were relocated to the project site.152 Approximately nine men were selected to start the colony, and they lived in the barracks, which also had a mess hall.153 The Federal Emergency Relief Administration hired six cooks to serve the workers breakfast each day because many of the men did not have sufficient food.154 The bunkhouse is no longer extant.
Eliza Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935. “Farm Colony Assured in Jackson County,” The Progressive Age, December 13, 1934; Joyce Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms: Success or Failure,” 11.
153 154 152 151
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, “Skyline Farms,” Report 1606, 2.
David Campbell and David Coombs, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation,” Appalachian Journal 10, no. 3 (Spring 1983): 245-246; Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935.
“Clearing Land by Burning Stumps, Skyline, Alabama,” c.1935 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
“Untitled,” c.1935-1942 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
“Untitled,” c.1935-1942 Image shows mess hall and bunkhouse. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Temporary Houses. The families relocating to Skyline Farms were tenant farmers, and many families were evicted when their landlords discovered men were living in a bunkhouse at the project site during the week while the family was still living on the landlord’s property.155 Project organizers also decided it was not in the best interest of the resettlement families to be separated. While permanent homes were being constructed, resettlement families lived in temporary houses, sometimes referred to as “temporary shacks.”156 There were approximately seventy of these buildings, and they were single room, rectangular buildings with shed roofing and wood board and batten or plank cladding.157 The original location of these buildings is unknown, and none have survived because the materials used to build them were later reused to construct outbuildings on individual farms.158
“Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 2; Dwight M. Davidson, Jr. and Charles P. Loomis, “Standards of Living of the Residents of Seven Rural Resettlement Communities,” Social Research Report No. XI (Washington, D.C.: United States, Farm Security Administration, and the Bureau of Agricultural Economics Cooperation, 1938): 26. Arthur Rothstein, “Temporary shacks used by resettlement families while new homes are being constructed,” Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/fsa1998017621/PP/ (accessed November 10, 2010); “Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2.
Colony House. The Skyline Farms resettlement community eventually included approximately one hundred seventy-one dwellings of the two hundred planned.159 The homes followed one basic form: the one-story Colony House.160 A model colony house was planned to be built near the center of community to serve as a pattern for additional dwellings, but it is unclear if the model home was actually constructed, and if it was, it may have been used for other purposes.161 All colony houses were built using the same type of floor plan, and they were intended to be a “modern” home for the displaced farmers, rather than the temporary shacks.162 They are massed-plan, side-gabled or front-gabled family homes.163 The homes were clad in board and batten siding or horizontal siding, made of locally milled oak, poplar, gumwood, and other hardwoods, that was sometimes painted a standard green.164 The original wood cladding has been replaced with vinyl on some homes today. They were shingled with locally sawn shingles and built upon locally quarried sandstone foundations. The capped chimneys, which are the most readily identifiable architectural element of surviving colony houses today, are also constructed from sandstone, as are the arched fireplaces.165 The homes had acreage appropriate for the resident’s occupation; there were farm units with at least forty acres and also subsistence units with two to twelve acres.166 Three floor plans were available that included two, three, or four bedrooms, a living room, and a large kitchen equipped with a cooking range, kitchen sink, cabinets, and an ice box. 167 The size of the home varied according to the size of the family, and most had three to five rooms total. To prevent all the homes from looking exactly the same, the building’s orientation to the road could be changed or the porch built at a different angle.168 The interior of the colony house is characterized by tongue and groove oak floors, walls and ceilings. The kitchens were generally large and outfitted with a large sink, a cooking range, cabinets most likely made of locally sawn
Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 246; Davidson and Loomis, “Standards of Living,” 6; “Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2; “Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 1-2.
160 161 159
Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 246.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 5.
162 163 164
Davidson and Loomis. “Standards of Living,” 26. Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide To American Houses (New York: Alfred A. Knoph, 2000), 478.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 2; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3; Harold J. Fisher, “Nearly 200 Contented Families Find Homes on Cumberland Mountain,” Jackson County Sentinel, December 3, 1936.
Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935.
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 14-15; “Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical SetUp,” 2; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3.
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation” (unpublished manuscript), Northeast Alabama Community College, Rainsville, Alabama, 12; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 14-15; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3.
poplar, and an icebox.169 The parlors were decorated with an arched fireplace and flared lintels above the windows and door frames. Electricity was provided starting in 1939,170 and there was no indoor water or plumbing.171 The first dwellings were built cooperatively, and the future residents of these first homes were chosen from a hat.172 The first colony home, occupied by the Edmonds family was finished in February 1935, is located at 20980 Highway 79, just before Gizzard Point Road.173 The home had five rooms and one double-stack chimney, and the outer walls were stained brown and trimmed in white.174 The colony houses were spread out surrounding the core of the community at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 25. All were sold into private ownership between 1944 and 1946,175 and many survive today although most have been altered. The first colony house survives, and concentrations of surviving colony houses may be found near the community center and on County Road 107 east of the community center.
“New House, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1935 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 3.
170 171 172 169
“Skyline Farm News,” Progressive Age, August 31, 1939. Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15.
“Farm Colony Assured in Jackson County,” The Progressive Age, December 13, 1934; “Colony Farmers Hold Get-to-Gether Meeting,” The Progressive Age, December 17, 1936.
173 174 175
Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 14. Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 31.
Former Colony House, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Colony House Number 1, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
2) Outbuildings Outbuildings are places of human work where animals, agricultural products, and equipment were stored, or that provided basic infrastructural services for human use. They are arranged on individual family plots as part of the domestic complex, in close proximity to the dwelling, or as part of the agricultural complex, farther away from the dwelling. The federal government provided colony house owners with building plans for modern outbuildings and the community with basic modern amenities.176 The following outbuildings were located within the domestic complex: Well House. Each property was equipped with a hand-pumped well to provide water for the family and farming operation. Wells were approximately seventy feet deep, may have had pressure tanks and well houses.177 In the twentieth century, frame well houses were commonly used to cover the well opening and pump. Concrete forms also were used.178 At least one of these structures is extant. It is located near the project’s Administrative Office.
Modern Well Pump, 2010 Possibly installed on the original well Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 12; “The Relief Administration at Work on Colony,” The Progressive Age, January 17, 1935, quoted in Kannamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 12; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3-4; Murray E. Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936. Carroll Van West, “Historic Family Farms in Middle Tennessee,” National Register Multiple Property Nomination, Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 1995, 48; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 1820-1954,” National Register Multiple Property Nomination, Center for Historic Preservation, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 2004, 15.
178 177 176
Privy. Each property was equipped with a privy and individual septic tank to dispose of sewage.179 These structures were common circa 1785-1970 and were usually tall with board and batten siding, a metal shed roof, and side ventilators.180 No extant privies have been identified. Smokehouse. Each plot of farmland included a smokehouse that was a frame structure with a saltbox style roofline covering a side shed. Families used them to smoke meat for subsistence, probably primarily pork products.181 They were common on farms circa 1785-1990, and they were tall, narrow buildings constructed of log, brick, or wood frame. Frame buildings were most common in the twentieth century.182 Many properties retain their original smokehouse and most are used for storage.
179 180 181
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4. West, “Historic Family Farms,” 48; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 14.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 12; McAlester, A Field Guide to American Houses, 28; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3; Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936.
West, “Historic Family Farms,” 48; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 14.
The following outbuildings were located within the agricultural complex: Barn. Each plot of farmland included a barn to house dairy cows, which became increasingly important to Skyline Farms agriculture in 1942 when Scottsboro, Alabama built a cheese plant. The barns also housed the livestock the government provided for clearing and cultivating the land. Initially, farmers were given steers, but later mules were provided because they were less expensive. Residents also raised rabbits, but it is unclear if they were sheltered in the barn or another building.183 Several barn types may have been used. The single crib barn, popular until 1960, was a singlepen, frame structure that was between eight and twelve feet long with a door located in the gable end that was used for corn and grain storage. The double crib barn, also popular until 1960, was a frame structure usually with the second pen added to the first and covered by a common roof and divided by a central aisle or breezeway. The transverse frame barn, popular until 1990, was a six-pen form sometimes elongated to allow for more pens along the center aisle. The United States Department of Agriculture standardized plans for these barns as tobacco storage, and many were converted to stock barns when farms switched from tobacco to livestock production. Milkhouses are associated with the twentieth-century boom in the dairy industry, and were typically one-story, concrete structures which housed the modern dairy equipment.184 There are barns extant on some homesteads that have not been identified as original to the homesteads. They may have replaced earlier barns. These are in poor condition.
Agricultural Barn, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 12; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 247; Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935; Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936; “Skyline Farms Community Fair,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 5, 1937; “Skyline Farms Answers Demands for Food,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 31, 1942.
West, “Historic Family Farms,” 49-52; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 15-17.
Hog House. Homesteaders raised hogs for use at home as well as to be sold for cash income. The Skyline Farms Cooperative Association operated a livestock service for its members. 185 Members of the community 4-H club also raised pigs to sell and show.186 Hog houses were popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. They were generally located as far from the family dwelling as possible. They were typically one-story, frame buildings with a gabled roof. In the twentieth century, USDA extension agents produced standardized plans that included storage room for corn and other foodstuffs next to the feeding pens.187 No extant hog houses have been identified at Skyline Farms. Chicken Coop. Initially, poultry was raised only for home use but some families also produced broilers commercially. The Skyline Farms Cooperative Association operated a livestock service for its members.188 The first group of baby chicks were brought to Skyline Farms in March of 1937 and brooded using rock brooders. Project residents hoped to raise several hundred chickens that spring, and to aid in the success of this project the school’s vocational agricultural department provided brooding information to residents.189 In 1941, 5500 chicks were grown for market and 2500 chicks for egg production.190 Poultry houses, or chicken coops, were common in the twentieth century because poultry production was a major part of progressive agricultural practices. USDA extension service agents produced standardized plans for small coops with two or three windows on one side covered by a shed roof.191 No extant chicken coops have been identified. Crib. Each property included a crib.192 Corncribs were popular throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Most were long, narrow buildings with slatted walls to ventilate corn. They were constructed on wooden supports to elevate them from the ground. Drive-in cribs were popular until 1940 and were similar to double crib barns except they were elongated with wider aisles.193 No extant corncribs have been identified. Fences. Fencing was included in each homestead.194 Board fencing was common in the twentieth century. It was constructed of square lumber posts connected by three to five wooden
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3, 5-6; “Cooperative Association for Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 30, 1936.
186 187 188 185
“Farm Notes,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 18, 1937. West, “Historic Family Farms,” 52; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 17.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3, 6; “Cooperative Association for Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 30, 1936; Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936.
“Farm Notes: Skyline Farms a Reality,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 18, 1937. “Skyline Farms Answers Demands for Food,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 31, 1942. West, “Historic Family Farms,” 51; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 14, 16.
Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936.
West, “Historic Family Farms,” 51; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 16. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3.
boards and usually enclosed livestock fields. Barbed wire fencing became common in the twentieth century with increased cattle production. Net wire fence was a woven fence that was also common in the twentieth century.195 None of the homesteads’ original fencing has been identified, but fields that remain in use for cultivation and livestock are fenced by similar post and wire fencing. Fields. Early in the project, farmers grew some subsistence crops but spent most of their laboring time clearing land and building homes. The first planned crop was in 1937.196 Farmers were given at least forty acres of land to grow cash crops including cotton and Irish potatoes, and later tomatoes, cabbage, beans, tobacco, and carrots. Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University, provided expert advice to the farmers, and the government provided seed and fertilizer.197 Produce was shipped to Atlanta, Birmingham, Huntsville, and Cincinnati. Sweet potatoes were also grown after 1939, and were reportedly stored in a “curing plant…for seed and marketing.” The cotton gin may have been converted to a curing plant once growing cotton was abandoned. Farmers also began growing cane once a syrup mill was constructed, and “the ‘Maltose’ method of sirup-making [sic] which was developed by the Extension Service of the Department of Agriculture has guaranteed a good price for this product.”198 Starch is used to make maltose syrup, and potatoes may have been the source of starch. Maltose Syrup is less sweet than sugar, but was commonly used in commercial food production, especially bakeries and soda manufacturing.199 There were some concerns about erosion once the land was cleared, but farmers utilized terracing to prevent this.200 The fields today reflect their agricultural history and are commonly used for cattle, corn, and hay.
West, “Historic Family Farms,” 55; West, “Historic Resources of the Paint Rock Valley, 19.
“Wyche, “200 Families Find Security at Cumberland Farms,” Chattanooga News, December 4, 1936, reprinted in The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936; “Skyline Farms News: Fine Potato Crop,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 1, 1937. Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 247; Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935; Hackworth, “Mr. Ross in Charge of Colony Work,” Jackson County Sentinel, April 18, 1935. Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 14-15; “Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical SetUp,” 2; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4-5; Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 32; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 246. J.K. Dale, “Manufacture and Uses of Malt Syrup,” Sugar: An English-Spanish Technical Journal Devoted to Sugar Production 22, no. 6 (June 1920): 332. “Farm Notes: Skyline Farms a Reality,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 18, 1937; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, October 25, 1939.
200 199 198 197
Agricultural Landscape, County Road 107, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Agricultural Landscape, County Road 107, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Orchards and Gardens. Each property had a fruit orchard and vegetable garden that provided most of the produce for families. Each family was also provided with a pressure cooker for canning, and by 1938 they canned an average of 450 quarts of produce.201 Newspaper articles offered advice for planting, recommending spring planting be done as early as February, explaining how and when to use fertilizer, how to properly prune trees, and how to choose appropriate seeds for the growing zone.202 It is unclear if any of the homesteads’ original orchards or gardens are currently in use.
“Vegetables grown by resettled farmer, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1935 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3, 5; “Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 4-5; Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14, 1935; Hackworth, “Mr. Ross in Charge of Colony Work,” Jackson County Sentinel, April 18, 1935. “Farm Notes,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 18, 1937; “Farm Notes: Skyline Farms a Reality,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 18, 1937.
3) Public Buildings Historic public buildings provided social services and include a public school, administrative office, commissary, health clinic, and recreation area.203 The public buildings were located in the center of the community at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 25. A cooperative community was encouraged so farmers could both assist one another as well as receive assistance, saving time and money by working together.204 Public School. The first public school was a temporary frame building. It used oil drums for heat and had hastily built benches and tables constructed of plank seats nailed to log legs, some even with the bark still on. With the increasing population of children in the community, the “barrack type building” became inadequate by 1936.205 In March of 1936, construction began on a new school building made of local sandstone. Birmingham architect William H. Kessler contributed to its design.206 The estimated cost of building the school was $25,000, and the project was completed in 1938 and its opening celebrated at the May Day festival that year.207 It was funded by a grant from the Works Progress Administration,208 and it was intended to be a focal point of the community because education was an important part breaking the cycle of farm tenancy.209 It employed six teachers and a principal to teach approximately 150-200 students in nine grades (350 students in 1936210), and it had ten or eleven classrooms and an auditorium.211 The government required the school to teach “progressive education,” so the curriculum included music, arts and crafts, and students were grouped according to ability rather than age.212 It was also one of the first schools in northern Alabama to teach agricultural courses and home economics to junior high students.213
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 5. Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 5-6; Charles P. Loomis and Dwight M. Davidson, Jr., “Social Agencies in the Planned Rural Communities,” Sociometry 2, no. 3 (July 1939): 24. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 16; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15-16; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248. Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 17; “Land-breaking for School Building is Attended by Many,” Special Edition of Jackson County Sentinel, March 19, 1936. “Cumberland Farms $25,000 Building Starts Monday,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 5, 1936; th Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18; “May Day Dedication Exercises at Skyline Farms May 7 ,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 3, 1938; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, May 18, 1939.
208 209 210 211 207 206 205 204 203
“Celebration at the Colony the Fourth,” The Progressive Age, July 2, 1936. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 16. “350 Enroll in School at Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 8, 1936.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 16; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18-19; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 16-19; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18-19; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248. “Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 8, 1936, quoted in Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18-19.
Teachers not only educated their students, but they helped them cope with severe poverty. One teacher remembered, “We didn’t have a lunch program and day after day after day I would carry my lunch and there would so many [students] without lunch, I would just spread it around.”214 The school was the center of community activity. Its auditorium was used for religious services, Sunday school, an annual dogwood festival with Maypole dancing, fiddling contests, music concerts, plays, Thanksgiving and Halloween celebrations, and even a party celebrating President Roosevelt’s birthday, which raised funds to find a cure for infantile paralysis.215 In 1943, the community honored soldiers fighting in World War II with a flag dedication service.216 In December of 1940, the school closed because of an outbreak of Scarlet Fever, and in January of 1941, a fire destroyed the building. There was no water system to fight fires, and the damage was estimated at $70,000.217 In July of 1941, the Douglas Construction Company out of Birmingham began to reconstruct the school on the remains of the foundation. 218 The school was incorporated into the Jackson County School District in 1945, and the building was renovated in 2000 and 2009 by the Osborn and Associates architectural firm located in Madison, Alabama.219 The building has remained in use as a public school since its construction. The National Youth Administration (NYA) was active in educational activities. They made heaters, wash stands, tables, and bookshelves for the classrooms and built a playground, volleyball court, and basketball court. There are references to a community library for which the NYA provided a full-time librarian.220 The exact location of the library is unknown, but it was most likely part of the public school.
Personal interview of Mrs. Ola Vaught by David Campbell, quoted in Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 19.
“Skyline Farms Honor President’s Birthday,” Jackson County Sentinel, January 1, 1938; “President’s Ball at Skyline Farms,” The Jackson County Sentinel, January [?], 1938; “Skyline Farms News,” Progressive Age, March 14, 1940, August 1, 1940, and October 31, 1940; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18; “Old-Time Fiddlers Convention,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 31, 1935; “Cumberland Farms $25,000 Building Starts Monday,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 5, 1936; “I Like Mountain Music,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 11, 1937; “String Music and Play at Skyline Farms March 9,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 4, 1937; “Faculty Play at Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 7, 1938; “Sacred Harp Singing at Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, October 12, 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June , 1940; “’Grandpappy’ Coming to Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, September 26, 1940; “Thanksgiving Service at Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, November 14, 1940; “Halloween Program,” Skyline Heritage Association Newspaper File, Skyline, Alabama; “Singing at Skyline Farms First Sunday in June,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 1, 1943.
“Skyline Service Flag Dedicated Sunday,” The Progressive Age, August 12, 1943.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 19; “Skyline School Building Burned,” Jackson County Sentinel, January 7, 1941; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 27. “Contract Let for Skyline School,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 1, 1941; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 28. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 19; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” post-script; Osborn & Associates Architects, “Skyline Elementary School,” http://www.osbornarchitects.net/images/SkylineElementary School.pdf (accessed November 17, 2010).
220 219 218
“Extensive N.Y.A. Program at Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 5, 1936.
Original Sandstone Public School, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Administrative Office (also referred to as the Rock House). The administrative office was constructed from local sandstone in 1937. A knee-high wall constructed from local sandstone surrounds the lot and has an entrance opening facing County Road 25. A flagstone path constructed of local sandstone leads to the building’s entrance. A secondary path leads from the building entrance to the right of the building, possibly leading to the location of the privy, which has not survived. The front door has transom windows and is centered on the front façade between four, six-over-six double hung windows. It has three rooms, each with a fireplace constructed from local sandstone, and the flooring is local sandstone hewn into a one-foot-long rectangles and set in a diagional pattern. The community plan indicates that space was to made in this building for a medical office, but it appears that this was never actually done. 221 The building has survived and is currently a privately owned residence, although unoccupied. The original sandstone fence surrounding the building and sidewalk leading to the porch remains. It is located at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 25.
Original Sandstone Administrative Office Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 5.
Original Sandstone Fence outside Administrative Office, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Commissary (also referred to as the Rock Store). Construction began on the commissary in July of 1935, and the building was constructed from local sandstone. In 1937, the Cumberland Farms Cooperative Association took over operations, changing its name to Skyline Farms Cooperative Association in 1938.222 The commissary functioned as a farmers’ cooperative which rationed some goods by means of a food stamp system.223 Planners intended to give families a monthly allowance ranging from $5.50 for a family of 2 to $8.50 for a family of 8 or more. 224 Without stamps, supplies could be purchased at cost, plus ten percent operating charges.225 Farmers who lived in the region but were not part of the project also purchased food and supplies from the commissary, but as non-members they were charged higher prices.226 The store was operated by “Lawyer Cornelison.”227 In 1942, the Skyline Future Farmers of America chapter installed a bulletin board for farmers to share information. It included spaces for items for sale, exchange, wanted, and timely subjects.228 The store originally had two large windows on either side of the double front doors centered in the façade, however the right side window was filled in with local sandstone c.1990. In 1937, an addition was added to the back of the store to form an “L” shape.229 A garage was added to its north side that has since been removed. A telephone was located inside the commissary, as well as a post office, Lorene Cornelison served as the postmistress.230 The commissary building has survived, and it is currently referred to as the “Rock Store” and used by the Skyline Heritage Association as a museum and meeting space. Sections of the original sandstone sidewalk around the building remain. It is located at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 25.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6; “Many Picnics for the Fourth,” The Jackson County Sentinel, July 4, 1935; “Cooperative Association for Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 30, 1936. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 12, 20; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 246-248; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 26; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4. “Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 4.
225 226 227 224 223 222
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 20. Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,”15. “Skyline F.F.A. Chapter News,” Jackson County Sentinel, April 28, 1942. Cindy Rice, conversation with Hallie Fieser, November 12, 2010.
228 229 230
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4; Hackworth, “Mr. Ross in Charge of Colony Work,” Jackson County Sentinel, April 18, 1935; “Postoffice at Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, November 4, 1937.
“Skyline Farms store. Alabama,” c.1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Original Sandstone Commissary, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Sidewalk outside Commissary, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Health Clinic. Initially, medical care was informally provided by the Skyline Farms Cooperative Association.231 Especially prior to 1938, patent medicines and home remedies were common, including sulphur and molasses, black draught, and turpentine.232 The community plan indicated that space would be made in the administrative building “for clinical purposes,” however oral history indicates that the health clinic was operated in Nurse Ola Barclay’s home. There was also a part-time doctor, Dr. Zimmerman.233 The clinic operated as a “pre-paid group plan” that cost fifty cents per month per family and included all medical care needs, and it might have been the “first such program sponsored by the federal government.”234 The clinic provided preschool check-ups and vaccinations through programs like typhoid clinics and health plays on topics like malaria.235 A series of classes or lectures, known as “well baby clinics,” were
231 232 233
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6. Davidson and Loomis, “Standards of Living,” 36.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 5; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 19-20; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 248; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15. “Skyline Farms,” Progressive Age, June 1, 1939; “Skyline Farms Elects Officers,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 6, 1937; “Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, May 2[?], 1939; “Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 6, 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June [?], 1939; “Skyline Farm News,”
provided to teach modern parenting techniques, and families paid a fee of five dollars for the birth of a child.236 Since the doctor was only available part time, in 1943 a series of classes were offered promoting good nutrition to maintain good health.237 The health clinic building has survived, but it has been altered. It is located beside the former cotton gin on County Road 107 near the center of the community.
Former Health Clinic, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Recreation Area. Carl Taylor was a rural sociologist in the Subsistence Homestead Division of the Resettlement Administration. He believed that recreation was critical to creating a sense of community, which in turn would make the project both easier to implement and more successful.238 The community recreation initially centered around the school auditorium, and activities included “the May Day festival, baby contests, food and canning exhibits, [base]ball games, PTA meetings, Boy Scout and Girl Scout meetings, the annual June singing,” free
“Skyline Farms,” Progressive Age, June 1, 1939, and June 22, 1939; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 15; “Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 6, 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June [?], 1939.
“War Time Food Habits Studies at Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, June 3, 1943. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 22-24; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249.
picture shows, voting, dogwood festivals, and Christmas plays.239 The 1938 May Day Festival also celebrated the opening of the new sandstone school building.240 The Community Fair was one of the major events at Skyline Farms. Prizes were awarded for the best cows, chickens, pigs, and rabbits, the best fruits and vegetables, the best handicrafts, and the best cakes, pies, and candies.241 Fourth of July picnics were big events for the community, with speeches, lunch provided by the P.T.A., tours given by the Boy Scouts, baseball games, school graduation ceremonies, and entertainment by the Cumberland Mountain Night Riders, the local band.242 Labor Day celebrations featured similar events, as well as pie eating contests, sack races, three-legged races, and wheelbarrow races.243 There were also “field days,” which included demonstration projects, speeches by political figures, and competitive games,244 and a community fair, which featured refreshments provided by the P.T.A., Boy Scouts, and Girl Scouts, a baby show, games, farm product exhibitions, canned goods exhibitions, handiwork displays, and baseball games.245 Square dancing was also a popular activity in the colony. By 1937 a recreation hall was built, and a band was formed to play music for the square dances held there regularly.246 A group of twenty-nine musicians and square dancers became so famous they were invited to perform at the three-day Mountain Folk Festival in Ashville, North Carolina in 1937, and to perform for President Roosevelt, the First Lady, and their guests at the White House in 1938.247 There was
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms, 21-22; “Free Picture Show at Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 8, 1936; “Cumberland Farms Offers Yule Pageant,” The Progressive Age, December [?], 1936; “Skyline Farms Elects Officers,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 6, 1937; “May Day Dedication th Exercises at Skyline Farms May 7 ,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 3, 1938; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June [?], 1939.
240 241 239
“May Day Dedication Exercises at Skyline Farms May 7 ,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 3, 1938.
“Skyline Farms Community Fair,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 5, 1937; “Skyline Farms Community Fair,” The Progressive Age, October 13, 1938. “Many Picnics for the Fourth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 4, 1935; “Cumberland Mountain Scene of Big Fourth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 11, 1935; “Fourth of July to be Celebrated at Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 25, 1936; “Celebration at the Colony the Fourth,” The Progressive Age, July 2, 1936; “Visit the Colony th July 4 Big Celebration!” Jackson County Sentinel, July 2, 1936; “Fully 3,000 Attend Picnic at Colony,” The Progress Age, July 9, 1936; “Skyline Farms News: County-Wide Picnic on July Fifth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 1, 1937; “Legion Park to be Celebration Place on Fourth of July,” Jackson County Sentinel, May 31, 1938; “Mrs. Roosevelt Hopes to Visit the Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 28, 1938. “Labor Day at Cumberland Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, 1936; “Cumberland Farms P.T.A. Met Last Wednesday,” Jackson County Sentinel, September 3, 1936.
244 245 246 243 242
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 26; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249. “Cumberland Farms Community Fair,” Jackson County Sentinel, October 8, 1936.
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 23-24; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249-250; “Fiddler’s Convention and Square Dance at Skyline Farms Saturday Night,” The Progressive Age, May 5, 1938; “Square Dance,” The Progressive Age, November 17, 1938. Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 23-24; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249-250; “Fiddler’s Convention and Square Dance at Skyline Farms Saturday Night,” The Progressive Age, May 5, 1938; “Skyline Square Dance Team to Attend Asheville Festival,” The Progressive Age, March [?], 1937; “Skyline Square Dance Team to Attend Asheville Festival,” Special Edition of Jackson County Sentinel, March 18, 1937; “Dance Team Plans Trip to Asheville,” Jackson County Sentinel, August 5, 1937.
also a teacher specifically assigned to teach folk dancing and music.248 The recreation building is no longer extant, but oral history suggests that it was located where the present-day school gym is located. Boy Scouts Cabin. In 1939, the Skyline Farms Boy Scouts received fifty dollars to build a log cabin.249 In 1940, a newspaper article commented that poor weather had prevented its construction, but that the project would begin March 16th.250 It is unclear if the building was actually constructed, or, if so, where it was located. Churches. Religious organizations were important at Skyline Farms. In 1936, J.M. Money donated a one-acre lot for a Baptist Church.251 When ground was broken to build the new public school in 1938, Superintendent of Education J.F. Hodges remarked that the school would be the most important building for the project with the exception of the church.252 In 1939, The Progressive Age announced plans to build a Baptist Church just north of the project center. 253 The dedication for the church was held on July 28, 1940, lead by Pastor G.H. Inglis.254 Sunday services and Sunday school were also held “as usual at the school house,” often with a guest preacher from the House of Happiness.255 There is an extant Baptist Church north of the school. It is unclear if this is the 1939 church referenced in the Progressive Age. The original locations, denominations, and construction dates of other churches in the area are unknown.
248 249 250 251 252
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 24; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249. “Skyline Farm News,” The Progressive Age, July 6, 1939. “Skyline Farms Boy Scout Troop 6,” The Progressive Age, March 14, 1940. “Judge Money Thanked for Gift of Church Lot,” The Progressive Age, June 16, 1936.
Loomis and Davidson, “Social Agencies,” 27-34; “Cumberland Mountain Scene of Big Fourth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 11, 1935; “Land-breaking for School Building is Attended by Many,” Special Edition of Jackson County Sentinel, March 19, 1938.
“Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, October 25, 1939. “Dedication Service for Skyline Baptist Church,” The Progressive Age, July 25, 1940.
“Skyline Farms News,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 28, 1939; “Skyline Farm News,” The Progressive Age, March 14, 1940; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, March [?], 1940; “Timberland Colony Starts Work on School Building,” The Progressive Age, March 19, 1936; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 18; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, October 31, 1940.
4) Agricultural Buildings Agricultural buildings are places of human work and were constructed for community use related to agricultural activity. Warehouse. The warehouse was built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association, which was established in 1937 to support cooperative activities and facilities. It was used for crop storage and may have been a potato curing house for sweet potatoes, although this may have been a second warehouse, possibly the cotton gin building.256 It may also have served as a temporary school building after the 1941 fire destroyed the existing school.257 The warehouse is a rectangular frame structure covered in metal siding with a concrete pier foundation and tin roofing. It was most likely constructed in 1937 or soon thereafter with the establishment of the Skyline Farms Homestead Association. It is located on County Road 107 near the Community Center and is currently used by the Skyline Heritage Association for storage.
Community Warehouse, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Cotton Gin. The cotton gin and seed house was built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association, and is a frame structure with a local sandstone foundation and chimney. The original USDA plan for the community called for the colonists to grow cotton as a cash crop because “cotton had long been the principal farm crop” in Jackson County, but the mountain climate was not suitable for growing cotton and problems arose from the presence of the boll weevil, so the gin was never used.258 After the community switched to potato production, they purchased a potato sorter that oral history suggests may have been housed in this building but newspaper reports suggest that it was purchased by and housed at the Commissary.259 It is possible that that the cotton gin was converted to the potato curing house that is referenced in USDA report 1606 once growing cotton was abandoned. The potato grader was electric
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 5-6.
Walter Tidwell, conversation with Amy Kostine, September 10, 2010; J. L. and Edna Guffy Keaton, conversation with Katie Randall, September 10, 2010.
Davidson and Loomis. “Standards of Living,” 6; Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 35. “Skyline Potato Deal Nearing Maturity,” The Progressive Age, June 22, 1939.
powered and sorted potatoes into sacks labeled with a special Skyline Farms design. The sorter could process 200 sacks per hour.260 The building has survived, and it is located on County Road 107 near the Community Center. It has been converted into an apartment complex.
Former Cotton Gin, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Packing Sheds. Produce requiring washing or intensive handling before packing and that was easily transported from the fields and orchards to another location was sorted and packed in a packing shed. Sometimes packing sheds were small, brush-roofed buildings, other forms included large shelters without walls, others were modern, multi-story buildings with modern equipment. They could be located in the fields or orchards or in a central location within an agricultural community.261 On May 27, 1939, the Skyline Farms community voted at a farmers’ meeting to build three packing sheds, also referred to as “potato sheds,” located on Fort Mountain, Winchester Road, and Larkinsville Road. The sheds would be used to pack the potato and tomato crops. The first potato crop was harvested in 1937 and praised as “the best quality of any we have seen in years,” having been carefully graded by the farmers.262 In 1938, Dr. Will Alexander, the administrator of the Farm Security Administration, visited Skyline Farms and reported that “through careful packing and grading processes, their [Skyline Farms’ farmers] produce brought premium prices on the Birmingham and Atlanta markets,” speaking of both potatoes and
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6; “Skyline Farm News,” The Progressive Age, June 15, 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June [?], 1939; “Skyline Potato Deal Nearing Maturity,” The Progressive Age, June 22, 1939. United States Department of Agriculture, “The Commercial Grading, Packing, and Shipping of Cantaloupes,” Farmers’ Bulletin 707 (February 2, 1916), 14-15, 18; United States Department of Agriculture, “Preparation of Barreled Apples for Market,” Farmers’ Bulletin 1080 (September 1919).
262 261 260
“Skyline Farms News: Fine Potato Crop,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 1, 1937.
tomatoes.263 In 1939, residents were elected to make “a potato inspection trip to South Alabama” to “study harvesting, handling, grading, and marketing potoatoes.”264 The packing shed and potato sorter were important additions to potato farming at Skyline Farms. The potato farms were fairly productive but made little profit.265 One former dispersing agent recalled, “We’d pack those potatoes and take them down to Scottsboro and load them in a refrigerated car [train] and send them to Cincinnati… the market was flooded and no one would buy our potatoes. They would just sit out there until they started rotting… So we lost all the potatoes and the cost of producing them and packaging them.”266 The tomato crop was estimated at 9,000 bushels in 1939. Farmers were praised for carefully protecting the crop from bruising with cusions while being transported to the packing shed. Pole beans were also packed and marketed at Skyline Farms.267 Oral history suggests that these buildings were also used to hold classes for school children from January of 1941 when the school was destroyed by fire until late that summer when a new school was completed.268 No extant packing sheds have been identified. Syrup Mill. It was common for family farms in Alabama to grow sugar cane for making molasses. Sugar cane was known to grow successfully everywhere in Alabama except in the northern counties, but a 1939 article in the Jackson Sentinel noted that a committee was appointed “to work on syrup mills.”269 The Skyline Farms Homestead Association constructed the syrup mill, and USDA reported that “a sirup [sic] plant has encouraged the growing of cane.”270 After World War II broke out, residents hoped to produce enough at the syrup mill to contribute to the nation.271 Its original location and date of contruction are unknown. No extant syrup mill has been identified. Feed and Grist Mill. This building was built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association.272 Its original location and date of contruction are unknown. No extant feed and grist mill has been identified.
“Dr. Alexander Praises Work at Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 1, 1938. “Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, June 1, 1939; “Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 6,
1939. “Amazing Irish Potato Crop Grown at Skyline Farms This Year,” The Progressive Age, July 13, 1939; “Skyline Farms has Fine Potatoes,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 24, 1942.
266 267 268 269 265
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 35; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 250. “Farm Cooperative Plans Big Year,” The Progressive Age, September 14, 1939. Kennemar, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 27-28.
Thomas M. Owen, History of Alabama and Dictionary of Alabama Biography, Volume II (Chicago, IL: The S.J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1921), 1287-1288; “Skyline Farms,” The Jackson Sentinel, June 1, 1938.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 5-6. “Skyline Answers Demands for Food,” Jackson County Sentinel, March 31, 1942. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6.
Marketing Shed. This building was built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association, and the Skyline Farms Cooperative Association helped with purchase and marketing of farmers’ crops.273 Its original location and date of contruction are unknown. No extant marketing shed has been identified. Ponds. There was a several-acre lake, possibly present-day Hill Pond, and residents considered building a dam to supplement it, but it appears the dam was never constructed.274 There are also references to two small lakes constructed for recreation, but it is unknown where they were located.275
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6; “Cooperative Association for Colony,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 30, 1936.
274 275 273
“Cumberland Mountain Scene of Big Fourth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 11, 1935.
Fisher, “Nearly 200 Contented Families Find Homes on Cumberland Mountain,” Jackson County Sentinel, December 3, 1936.
5) Industrial Buildings Industrial buildings are places of human work and associated outbuildings where products are manufactured and equipment stored. Workshops. The women’s and men’s workshops were used for small industrial projects to support the community. The men’s workshop was a blacksmith’s shop. The women’s workshop was a cannery, and women learned to use pressure cookers provided by the federal government, and canned a variety of foods in tin cans also provided by the government. Both were built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association and operated by the Skyline Farms Cooperative Association.276 The Alabama Polytechnic Institute, now Auburn University, also provided books to teach the women how to use water bath canning.277 They were located at the core of the community near Hensley Lane and are no longer extant.
“Interior of blacksmith shop, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6.
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 26; Walter Tidwell, conversation with Katie Randall, October 15, 2010.
Hosiery Mill. Ground was broken for the construction of a silk-throwing plant and hosiery mill, also referred to as the “Knitting Mill,” on November 29, 1938, by A.K. Adams and Company contractors. Its construction was estimated to be approximately $94,000.278 Skyline Farms residents formed the Skyline Industrial Company, which was a cooperative association that helped purchase the land and build the factory. It also owned the deed to all physical property, although the mill was operated and managed by the Dexdale Hosiery Mill of Lansdale, Pennsylvania.279 Mill employees did not already have the skills necessary to operate the plant, so many went to Dexdale in Pennsylvania to be trained, then returned to train other employees at the Skyline facility.280 It provided employment initially for approximately 40 residents, later growing to approximately one hundred residents. It employed those who were not employed in agriculture, mostly farmers’ families, especially women.281 Workers were paid minimum wage, which was thirty-five cents per hour when the mill opened and later rose to forty cents per hour.282 Hosiery was knit at the plant, then sent to Lansdale, Pennsylvania for finishing283 The mill required electricity to operate, so its construction brought electricity to the Skyline Farms community. As of March 9, 1939, fifty families had signed up for electricity.284 The adjacent water tower was constructed in August of 1939, and, standing 126 feet tall, it was reported to hold 50,000 gallons of water.285 Unfortunately, the mill was not profitable, especially after the outbreak of World War II made nylon scarce. In the 1940s the mill was sold to the Dexdale Company and was reopened to produce latex.286 The building is constructed of red brick with glass block windows and had a fan and blower system for ventilation.287 The mill is extant and has been used as a rope factory in more recent years. It is located on Highway 79, north of County Road 107, near the community center. The mill’s water tower is also extant.288
“Work Starts on New Knitting Mill at Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 29, 1938; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6. Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 22; U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6-7; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 7; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, May 18, 1939; “Skyline Farm News,” The Progressive Age, August 24, 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, October 25, 1939. Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249; “Dr. Alexander Praises Work at Skyline Farms,” Jackson County Sentinel, November 1, 1938.
282 281 280 279 278
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 22; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 7.
“Alabama Power Co. Contracts to Serve Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, August 31, 1939; “Skyline Farm News,” The Progressive Age, August 31, 1939.
“Skyline Farms News,” Jackson County Sentinel, August 15, 1939.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 22; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 26-27; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 249.
“Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, May 18, 1939.
“Skyline Farms to get $500,000 Knitting Mill,” The Progressive Age, September 1, 1938; “Skyline Farms,” The Progressive Age, May 2[?], 1939; “Skyline Farms News,” The Progressive Age, June [?], 1939.
The Hosiery Mill, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
The Hosiery Mill and Water Tower, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Quarry. The quarry provided sandstone used for fireplace and chimney construction, as well as limstone, rock banks, and Silica sand used for road construction.289 It is unclear where the quarry was located, but there is a quarry in operation on County Road 107.
Stone quarry, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” 1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Jackson Stone Quarry, on County Road 107, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3.
Sawmill. The Skyline Farms project was established on cut-over timber lands, and it was reported that “there is enough standing timber on the acreage to furnish lumber for the building improvements.”290 Initially, a sawmill was borrowed to cut the oak, poplar, gumwood, and other hardwoods cleared from the project area, and it was located near the bunkhouse.291 Some of this wood was cut into cross ties that were traded for other building supplies like nails, windows, and doors.292 By 1936, there were four sawmills constructed for the project including an assembling and finishing plant.293 The sawmills were supervised by Ike Floyd. Local wood was used to build colony homes and other buildings and furniture and other handicrafts. 294 There was also a shingle mill.295 The original locations and construction dates of these buildings is unknown, and none of these buildings have survived.
“Sawmill, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” 1935 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
“Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 1. Hackworth, “Opening of First Homestead Celebrated Thursday,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 14,
1935. U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 3; “Jackson Allocated $350,000 For Colony on Cumberland Mt.,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 28, 1935.
293 294 292
“Timberland Colony Starts Work on School Building,” The Progressive Age, March 19, 1936.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 27; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 14, 26; “Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms Physical Set-Up,” 2.
“Sawmill. New houses are built with timber cut on the project. Skyline Farms, Alabama,” 1935 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Machine Shop and Garage. This building was built by the Skyline Farms Homestead Association and operated by the Skyline Farms Cooperative Assocation. 296 The original location and contruction date are unknown. No extant machine shop and garage has been identified.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 6.
6) Cemeteries There were no funeral homes at Skyline Farms, so funeral homes in nearby Scottsboro, Alabama serviced the Skyline Farms community.297 Skyline Cemetery. The Skyline Cemetery entrance consists of two sandstone colums four to five feet tall and three feet wide flanked by a two foot tall standstone wall that parallels county road 143. It may have been constructed as a National Youth Administration project. The cemetery is on County Road 143, and it appears burials continue in the cemetery today.
Original Sandstone Entrance to Skyline Cemetery, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Skyline Cemetery, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
“Sudden Death of Skyline Farms Citizen,” Jackson County Sentinel, April 25, 1939.
Confederate Cemetery. The November 5, 1936, issue of the Jackson County Sentinel references a National Youth Administration project plan to build a “native stone” wall at the entrance of the “Confederate Veterans” cemetery east of the downtown crossroads of County Road 107 and County Road 25. The description and location of the project match that of the Skyline Cemetery, but there is no other apparent evidence that it is a “Confederate Veterans” cemetery. However, north of the community on County Road 545 is the Sanders-Mill Creek Cemetery which has fifty-seven identifiable interred and an unknown number of additional graves that are unmarked or illegible. Legible dates indicate that the earliest burial occurred in 1863 and eight of the markers indicate deaths between 1863 and 1898, with burials continuing into the 1990s. Among the interred are: Pvt. James Arther Sanders-Alabama Infantry, Pvt. William Mashburn-Tennessee Infantry, John Mashburn- Indiana Cavalry, W.M. Feers- Ohio Cavalry, John Sanders- Ohio Cavalry, and E.P. King- Alabama Cavalry. While it may not be the veterans cemetery listed in the article, this cemetery offers an interesting insight to settlement on the mountain before the Cumberland Mountain Farms project.298 Travis Cemetery. Thes Travis Cemetery is a family cemetery in which the majority of the nearly sixty burials are from the 1930s, 1980s, and 1990s. The earliest documented burial is from 1910, suggesting that the Travis’ were one of the few families to live on the Cumberland mountain before the New Deal project.299 It is located on County Road 107.
USGenWeb Archives. “Sanders Cemetery, Skyline, Alabama.” http://files.usgwarchives.org/al/Jackson/cemeteries/sanders2.txt (accessed December 9, 2010). Tracking Your Roots, “Travis Family Cemetery, Jackson County, Alabama,” http://files.usgwarchives.org/ al/jackson/cemeteries/travis.txt (accessed November 17, 2010).
7) Objects Handicrafts. Developing handicraft skills was encouraged, including weaving, sewing, quilting, wood and metal working, and furniture making. These skills were believed to contribute to a sense of community, as well as being products the residents could sell for additional income. Government advisors taught men to make all types of furniture for their own use and for sale.300 It is unknown where these items were constructed, but a 1935 newspaper indicates there were plans to build a “general workshop” to include “handicraft manufacture, blacksmith work, a cannery, and wood and iron shops.” At least one furniture shop existed. It was owned and operated by J.A. Houston and made most of the furniture for the colony houses in the early years of the project.301 Oral history indicates these were constructed as individual buildings, so the handicraft manufacturing may also have had its own spearate building or may have been done on individual homesteads.302
“Cabinet maker, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Sporting Equipment. Government advisors taught girls to make tennis balls, volleyballs, fishnets, and possibly baseballs to sell or exchange for other products.303 It is unknown where this took place.
Campbell, “Skyline Farms,” 27; Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 26; Campbell and Coombs, “Skyline Farms,” 250. Fisher, “Nearly 200 Contented Families Find Homes on Cumberland Mountain,” Jackson County Sentinel, December 3, 1936.
302 301 300
“Jackson Allocated $350,000 for Colony on Cumberland Mt.,” Jackson County Sentinel, February 28,
Newsletter. The community created a newsletter, Cumberland Farms Notes, in 1935.304 It announced community activities and other important information for residents, and was published monthly in one of the two county papers. It is unclear if any issues of the newsletter survive today.
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 26; Joyce Kennamer, conversation with Mona M. Brittingham, September 10, 2010.
Kennamer, “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms,” 21.
National Register Nomination Recommendations Several of the buildings may be eligible as individual properties, but nominating properties as a district or multiple property nomination would be a better option. These types of listings offer an opportunity to include more properties because they include buildings that are not eligible individually but derive significance from the broader context of the community. A district nomination should focus on the public buildings at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 25: the commissary, warehouse, administration building, health clinic, and cotton gin. It should also include the sandstone sidewalks and walls that are extant. A multiple property nomination would provide a contextual study of buildings that are spread out away from the center of the community, including the public school, individual colony houses that are either unaltered or extremely significant, the hosiery mill, and cemeteries.
ORAL HISTORY Introduction Oral history is a method for recording and preserving memories in spoken form from which meaning may be extracted. Oral history interviewing began when history first started to be recorded, but the term oral history wasn’t connected to the process of interviewing until the 1940s and the practice did not become common until the 1960s. While the methodology of recording these stories has advanced with advances in technology, the function has remained the same: to collect “memories and personal commentaries of historical significance through recorded interviews.” Oral history is different from oral traditions or folklore, which collect traditional stories of a community, because it involves in-depth interviewing to collect stories that connect that past to the present. Interviews may be used for a variety of projects that bring “meaningful history to a public audience.”305 Oral history is dependent upon memory, so the interviewer must analyze data with other types of evidence. Despite the potential for inaccuracy, especially if much time has passed between the event and the interview, oral history is a valuable tool. It often reveals information that was not otherwise captured in the public record, and it may produce questions that the researcher might not have previously thought about. Also, oral history is unique in research methods because it allows the researcher to actively question the source, which results in more accurate answers about why decisions were made.306 Oral history is a multi-disciplinary field and often community members are just as effective as interviewers as professional historians. It is important to receive training prior to conducting interviews, though, because oral history projects that are not conducted by a wellprepared interviewer may not be successful. There are also legal and ethical obligations to the interviewee, professional standards of scholarship, and appropriate preservation of the recordings to consider. A number of resources are readily available, and the Oral History Association has established a set of guidelines for conducting oral histories.307 For Skyline Farms, oral history could be a useful and successful project. There are many residents in the community who have memories of the resettlement project and who may be willing to participate in an oral history project. Preliminary interviews have been conducted with several potential oral history interviewees, and although these should not be considered complete oral histories, notes from these interviews are available from the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation and may yield important information for planning an oral history project. This type of project may also yield information about additional private artifact, document, or image collections. A list of potential oral history interviewees follows, as well as a list of
Quotes from Donald A. Ritchie, Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 19, 41. Also see: The Oral History Association, “Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History: Introduction,” 2009, http://www.oralhistory.org/do-oral-history/principles-and-practices/ (accessed October 27, 2010); Paula Hamilton, and Linda Shopes, Oral History and Public Memories (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008), viii; Ritchie, Doing Oral History, 19-21, 37, 46; Valerie Raleigh Yow, Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences (Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2005), 2-3. Hamilton & Shopes, Oral History and Public Memories, viii; Ritchie, Doing Oral History, 26-27; Yow, Recording Oral History, 5-6, 9-10, 20-21.
307 306 305
Oral History Association, “Principles for Oral History”; Ritchie, Doing Oral History, 19, 25-26.
resources for conducting oral history interviews. The Skyline Heritage Association may be contacted for individual interviewee contact information. Potential Oral History Interviewees: Allen, Roger. Son of Chester Allen, one of the Skyline Farms Band members who later had a career in music. Mr. Allen owns many of the music-related artifacts available for loan to the Skyline Heritage Association. Bellomy, Ike. Was a child during the project years. Brother of Jan Cook. Brandon, Vivian Schrader. Was a child during the project years and went to school in both the original frame schoolhouse and the later sandstone building. She is pictured in photographs of the schools in the Library of Congress, Farm Security Administration, Office of War Information Photograph Collection. Her family moved to Cumberland Mountain in 1934 but did not live in a colony house. Her father, Eustis Schrader, was very active in the project. Brooks, Bill. Did not live in the area during the project but has many contacts who did. Bynum, Gordon. Campbell, Hugh. Chambers, Bob. Long-term resident of the Skyline area. Clark, Mrs. Was raised in and now owns one of the last colony houses build. Mother of Geneva Wells. Cook, Jan (Bellomy). Was a child during the project years. Sister of Ike Bellomy. Cook, Mr. Owns a colony house. Came to area in 1945 or 1946 and helped clear Roger Hill’s property. Father of John Cook. Martha Franks. Grider, Lorene. Was a child during the project years. Guffey, Lowell. Long-term resident whose father supervised the sawmills. Hill, Roger. Moved to area in 1945, was born in his house, possibly House 134 which was formerly owned by Charlie Grider. Family cleared land by hand and raised chickens, tried to grow cotton but failed, also milked cows which were fed by peanuts the family grew. Hill, Webb. Long-term resident. Holt, Fannie Lee. Keeton, J.L. Long-term resident, one of the oldest members of the community. Kennamer, Joyce. Daughter of Judge Money who helped establish the project. Author of “The Rise and Decline of Skyline Farms: Success or Failure?” 90
Machen, Mary Helen. Owns a colony house that she inherited from family members. Manning, Viola. Long-term resident who has lived in several colony houses. McGill, Marie and Thurman. Long-term residents of the area. Paradise, Shirley. Relative of Oakland and Ray Paradise were one of only two families to keep their farms after the project ended following World War II. Parker, Alvie. Long-term resident of the area. Peek, Mrs. Was a child during the project years. Now owns a colony house. Potter, Pat. Long-term resident of the area. Relative of Laura Duke, one of the project school teachers. Rouse, Mavis. Lives in colony house owned by Bug and Ruth Roberts, who have owned the house since 1945. Sells, Annie Mary. Neighbor of Hattie Stewart. Stevens, Vernon. Long-term resident of the area. Father of Mitchell Stevens. Stewart, Hattie. Formerly operated the Commissary. Tally, Betty. Moved to area in 1936. Has photographs of the public school. Mother of Tony Tally. Talley, Pleasey. Scottsboro resident familiar with the Skyline project and area. Teat, Louise. Rainsville resident familiar with Skyline project and area. Tidwell, Walter. Long-term resident whose father was the Justice of the Peace for the project. Wade, Hook (Euclay) and Margaret. Long-term residents of the area who worked for the farmers’ cooperative. Waldrop, John. Wells, Mrs. Long-term resident of the area. Woodall, Evelyn. Resources for Conducting Oral History Interviews: Charlton, Thomas L., Lois E. Myers, and Rebecca Sharpless. Handbook of Oral History. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2006. Hamilton, Paula and Linda Shopes. Oral History and Public Memories. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2008.
Hart, Cynthia and Lisa Samson. The Oral History Workshop: Collect and Celebrate the Life Stories of Your Family and Friends. New York: Workman Publishers, 2009. Hoopes, James. Oral History: An Introduction for Students. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979. Mercier, Laurie and Madeline Buckendorf. Using Oral History in Community History Projects. 2007. The Oral History Association. “Principles for Oral History and Best Practices for Oral History.” 2009. http://www.oralhistory.org/do-oral-history/principles-and-practices/ (accessed October 27, 2010). Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Sommer, Barbara and Mary Kay Quinlan. The Oral History Manual. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2009. Yow, Valerie Raleigh. Recording Oral History: A Guide for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2005.
MUSIC RESOURCES Introduction The Skyline Farms community has a rich music history. Skyline Farms planners believed that building a sense of community was a key factor in its success and that one way of doing so was through folk music.308 The Resettlement Administration, which took over management of Skyline Farms in 1935, formed a Special Skills Division that provided a teacher of folk music and dance for the community.309 A band was formed to play music for the square dances held each Friday evening in the recreation building, which was where the school gym sits today. Although the site of the square dances has not survived, the Skyline Farms Heritage Association owns or has on loan a number of music-related artifacts, and there are surviving recordings and photographs of the Skyline Farms Band, most of which belong to the descendants of Chester Allen, one of the Skyline Farms Band members.
“Music for square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
David Campbell, “Skyline Farms: A Case Study of Community Development and Rural Rehabilitation” (unpublished manuscript), Northeast Alabama Community College, Rainsville, Alabama, 24. Campbell, 24; Paul Conkin, Tomorrow a New World: The New Deal Community Program (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1959), 195-196.
“Square dance, Skyline Farms, Alabama,” c.1937 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collection Farm Security Administration Office of War Information Photograph Collection
Inventory of Resources Artifacts may fall under four categories: owned by the Skyline Heritage Association (SHA), gifted to the SHA, on short-term loan to the SHA, or on long-term loan to the SHA. Currently, there are no music resources owned or gifted to the SHA. The following list includes music resources that may be loaned on a short-term or long-term basis from Roger Allen, who is Chester Allen’s son. Skyline Heritage Association Collection The SHA owns copies of “Skyline Jubilee: Songs of 1938-1939,” the recording of Skyline Farms Band for the National Archives, and copies of the lyrics for several of Chester Allen’s songs. The copyrights for these materials should be investigated before use. Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Black-and-White Negatives Collection, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division This collection includes approximately 95 images of Skyline Farms’ Friday square dances taken by photographer Ben Shahn between 1935 and 1942. Many of subjects in the images have been identified by the SHA and members of the Skyline community. The image copyrights are public domain. Personal Collection of Roger Allen This collection includes memorabilia inherited by Roger Allen from his father, Chester Allen. Roger Allen retains ownership and copyrights to these items. SHA may request permission to publish images or request materials as short or long-term loans for exhibits. The collection includes the following items: • Chester Allen’s guitar • Approximately twenty-four snapshots of the 1937 trip to Washington, D.C.
Home Purchase Agreement signed by Chester and Vesta Allen Heritage of Jackson County, Alabama, includes an article on Chester and Vesta Allen The Replica Records audition notification letter to Chester Allen, dated May 10, 1954 “Skyline Jubilee: Songs of 1938-1939,” 1989 compilation of the 1937 National Archives’ recordings of Skyline Farms Band, produced by David Campbell and Scottsboro-Jackson Heritage Center • Jackson Sentinel article about Skyline Farms Band playing at the White House in 1937 • Washington Post article about Skyline Farms Band playing at the White House in 1937 • • • •
PRESERVATION NEEDS AND RECOMMENDATIONS Introduction The following section of this report will serve as a guide for steps for future preservation of the Commissary (project co-op, also referred to as the Rock Store), warehouse, and Administrative Office (also referred to as the Rock House) at Skyline. Recommendations, based on the guidelines of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, will be divided into three sections: issues that require immediate attention, areas that need rehabilitation in the short term (1-3 years), and large-scale restoration projects that would require a considerable amount of funding and construction time over the long term (3-5 years), as well as images that depict the current conditions and needs of these buildings.310
Commissary (Rock Store)
Administrative Office (Rock House)
A complete list of the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties can be found online at http://www.nps.gov/hps/tps/standguide/.
Preservation Priorities The following actions need to be taken immediately: The most important thing to do in preparation for the restoration of the Commissary, Warehouse, and Administrative Office at Skyline is to protect the historic properties from the elements and agents of harm. To this end, the buildings should be protected from damage or potential damage from rain, water, snow and ice, wind, hail, fire, sunlight, insects, animals, vandals, and thieves. Administrative Office: 1. Prime exterior wood surfaces: Moisture is the most common and most deadly threat to the existence of any structure. Although fire is much more dramatic and quick, moisture affects all buildings. It is important to protect the wooden, paper, and more fragile elements of the building from dampness. Wood doesn’t rot if it is kept wet all the time, or dry all the time, but it will deteriorate rapidly if it repeatedly goes through wet and dry cycles. All exterior wood should have at least one coat of primer in order to provide a very minimal and temporary protection. Remember that every part of the building can be affected negatively by uncontrolled rainwater. The most important elements of a building in need of protection are the roof and foundation. 2. Roof repair/clean-up and installation of gutters: The roof needs to be impervious to windblown rain and snow. No matter what material is used, it must shed water at every point. The most common areas of roof failure are the eaves, the valleys at roof intersections, and any openings in the roof, such as dormers, chimneys, vents, and pipes. Any penetration of the roof fabric needs to be both flashed and counter-flashed on all sides with a non-corroding metal of the proper thickness. All chimneys and flues should be sealed and all water should be channeled away from the house with an integrated gutter and leader system. Any missing pieces of trim that help to seal the roof should be replaced.
Need for gutter system and roof cleaning
3. Foundation Maintenance: It is important that the area around the foundation be kept dry. If not, most buildings will tend to settle unevenly over the years, causing steady damage. A damp foundation also will raise the humidity level in the building, creating conditions for mold to form. This can be largely prevented by using a gutter and leader system to divert water away from the building. It will also prevent the water from splashing the walls of the foundation. Both gutters and leaders must be inspected on a regular basis to prevent clogging. The compaction of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the house over time will leave the building in a shallow depression. Topsoil should be brought in, spread evenly (using hand tools close to the building) and sloped away from the building using at least a 1:12 pitch to facilitate drainage. The best time to do this is the fall, so that the grass seed can be sown and then covered with straw.
Foundation on north elevation
Foundation on south elevation
4. Removal of Plant and Leaf Debris: Any growing plant in close proximity to a building will damage the structure to some degree. Overhanging limbs are accidents waiting to happen. Beware of weak trees like hackberries or pecans. Ivy and other intrusive vines can damage wood and mortar for as long as they grown on them. Shrubs and trees trap moisture against the structure, and the high humidity near the building causes rapid deterioration of the building fabric. The branches of the tree which displays the “No Loafing” sign must be trimmed back so that they do not extend over the roof and cannot fall during winter weather. Additionally, all of the leaves, branches, and other debris that has collected on the roof, particularly in the valleys between the original section and the addition, should be removed. This leaf debris traps moisture which has already begun to seep through to the room below.
Stumps and other decayed biological growth needs to be delicately removed, as the roots are attached to the foundation. "No Loafing" tree extending over Commissary
5. Security and Windows: Any openings in the building (doors, windows, and vents) have the potential to admit the elements as well as intruders into the building. This will become increasingly important as additional exhibits are developed and as the property as a whole develops. All windows should be inspected for missing or broken pieces, and the flashing above each one checked as well. The glazing on the windows should be intact, as should all of the panes. If the windows cannot be repaired immediately, the openings need to be sealed in some way, either with wood or cardboard to protect the interior from moisture and threats from the outside. The weatherizing of the windows has the added effect of enhancing security. Additionally, the basement door as well as all exterior doors should be inspected and repair to prevent against intruders. Remember a lock is only as strong as the chain from which it hangs.
Bars to deter entry to basement are bent to allow access
Bars on other windows, but open panes for entry on some windows
6. Cleaning/Removal and Containment of Debris: Loose debris, whether inside or out, is a health and safety hazard. The grounds and interior should be kept free of trash at all times. A thorough cleaning of the entire building should be done before restoration work begins, with particular safety precautions taken when removing asbestos debris from the basement or ceiling tiles from the main floor. More than likely the ceiling tiles contain asbestos, however, they should be professionally analyzed to see if this assumption is correct. Proper cleaning and removal of asbestos threats would eliminate certain problems and provide a clearer picture of what restoration work needs to be done. The basement needs to be sealed off until the hazardous asbestos can be removed. The “drooping” asbestos on the ductwork throughout the basement is emitting dust into the air each time a breeze blows through and the stairs are currently not stable enough to be used. Sealing of the stairway could be accomplished using plywood to block the entrance at the rear of the store and then sealing the edges with duct tape. All areas of the Commissary contain asbestos. As such, extra precautions need to be taken to ensure the health and safety of all working within the building, particularly anyone who is stirring up dust.
Entry to the basement should be sealed until asbestos ducts can be removed
A Special Note on Hazardous Materials: Most historic restoration projects entail contact with hazardous materials, most commonly mold, bird and animal waste, the lead in paint, and asbestos in a variety of building products such as insulation, ceiling tiles, drywall, linoleum, pipe wrap, and others. The Commissary is no exception. The following examples illustrate the kinds of problems that require immediate remediation, or the removal of hazardous materials. The removal of these materials in the Commissary could be done in phase: first, the front room of the store (the original section) could be treated, and then the back room (the addition). Exhibits and displays could be moved from one section to the other. Remediation professionals should remove the asbestos and other materials, like the ceiling tiles that may indeed contain asbestos. While this removal is being completed, the other section should remain sealed with some form of temporary barrier. This remediation should be completed as soon as possible, as the dust and bits of decaying asbestos, particularly in the basement, could easily become airborne and hazardous to the health of all near or in the building.
Tiles more than likely containing asbestos, need further testing; pose health threat
One avenue for assistance in the removal of such hazardous materials is the Brownfields Redevelopment and Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP). In Alabama, this program is administered through the Alabama Department of Environmental Protection (ADEM). The Commissary at Skyline qualifies for tax incentives and assistance as a brownfield, or an “abandoned, idled, or underused industrial or commercial property where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived contamination.”311 Qualifications of this program can be found online, as noted at the bottom of the page.
Alabama Department of Environmental Management, “Brownfields: Reclaiming Alabama One Site At A Time,” ADEM, http://adem.alabama.gov/programs/land/brownfields.cnt (accessed Nov. 16, 2010).
Warehouse: 1. Security: One immediate action in regards to the warehouse is the repair of security measures. Open windows need to be sealed and the metal bars over the windows that have been bent outward should be repaired. Also, the chain and lock system securing the main entry doors should be examined. Once again, remember a lock is only as strong as the chain from which it hangs. Also, one of the metal panels on the east elevation is dented and bent back. It appears to be the right height to serve as a foot step to crawl up the side of the building and into the warehouse through the gaps in the metal bars at the window. This siding panel needs to be repaired so that it no longer leaves a “step” for intruders to access the interior of the building.
Old lock and chain that needs to be replaced on warehouse to increase security “Step” for intruders, just above damaged panel
Administrative Office: After basic preservation priorities are tackled and completed and financing allows, preservation efforts should extend to the Administrative Office. The Commissary should be the center of restoration priorities, with the intent of opening it as a museum in the near future. Once ownership of the Administrative Office passes to the Skyline Heritage Association restoration can begin. 1. Prime exterior wood surfaces: All exterior wood should be primed with at least one coat of primer in order to provide a very minimal and temporary protection. Remember that every part of the building can be affected negatively by uncontrolled rainwater.
All exterior wood surfaces should first be replaced or repaired, and then primed.
2. Roof repair/clean-up: The most common areas of roof failure are the eaves, the valleys at roof intersections, and any openings in the roof, such as dormers, chimneys, vents, and pipes. All of these areas serve as points for water entry at the Administrative Office. Any penetration of the roof fabric needs to be both flashed and counter-flashed on all sides with a non-corroding metal of the proper thickness. All chimneys and flues, particularly the chimney on the north end of the Administrative Office, should be sealed. Any missing pieces of trim that help to seal the roof should be replaced, particularly on the underside of the eave.
3. Installation of gutter and leader system: All water should be channeled away from the house with an integrated gutter and leader system. A gutter system remains on the grounds, although it is no longer connected or in working order. Use of an integrated gutter and leader system will divert water away from the building and prevent the water from splashing the walls of the foundation and running down the exterior stone walls. Both gutters and leaders must be inspected on a regular basis to prevent clogging.
Chimney on north end of building needs new flashing to seal water from entering through the attic.
Gutter and leader system would draw water away from the eaves, protecting from damage like that shown here.
4. Foundation Maintenance: It is important that the area around the foundation of the Administrative Office be kept dry. A damp foundation also will raise the humidity level in the building, creating conditions for mold to form. All vegetation—including the plants and bushes in the landscaped beds around the building—should be removed. The compaction of the soil in the immediate vicinity of the house over time will leave the building in a shallow depression. Topsoil should be spread evenly (using hand tools close to the building) and sloped away from the building using at least a 1:12 pitch to facilitate drainage, much like the Commissary across the street. The best time to do this is in the fall, so that grass seed can be sown and covered with straw.
Overgrown plants in flowerbeds and attached to foundation, wicking in moisture.
5. Removal of Plant and Leaf Debris: Any growing plant in close proximity to a building will damage the structure to some degree. Overhanging limbs provide hazards, as well as trees, like those around the Administrative Office, which drop nuts and seeds in addition to tripping hazards for the public who may visit the building in the future. Ivy and other intrusive vines can damage wood and mortar for as long as they grown on them. Shrubs and trees trap moisture against the structure, and the high humidity near the building causes rapid deterioration of the building fabric. The branches nearby trees must be trimmed back so that they do not extend over the roof and cannot fall during winter weather. Additionally, all of the leaves, branches, and other debris that has collected on the roof, particularly in the valleys and near the chimneys should be removed. 6. Security and Windows: Any openings in the building (doors, windows, and vents) have the potential to admit the elements as well as intruders into the building, of both human and wildlife forms. This will become increasingly important the building is used as a library or any other public facility. All windows should be inspected for missing or broken pieces, and the flashing above each checked as well. The glazing on the windows should be intact, as should all of the panes. If the windows cannot be repaired immediately, the openings need to be sealed in some way, either with wood or cardboard to protect the interior from moisture and threats from the outside. The weatherizing of the windows has the added effect of enhancing security. Additionally, the front door and rear door should be inspected and repaired to prevent against intruders. A new lock system should be installed on the back door, as a lock is only as strong as the chain from which it hangs.
Rotten door surrounds will not stop intruders from entry
Windows that are missing panes, like this one need to be sealed from the elements.
7. Cleaning/Removal and Containment of Debris: Loose debris, whether inside or out, is a health and safety hazard. The grounds and interior should be kept free of trash at all times. A thorough cleaning of the entire building should be done before restoration work begins, with particular safety precautions taken when removing bird droppings from the rear room on the north end of the Administrative Office. The droppings and remains of dead birds need to be removed, as well as any other feces or critter remains that might be found in the attic. Damaged vents on either end of Birds like this may carry the fungus that causes the attic could have allowed birds, bats, and other histoplasmosis. creatures into the attic and precautions need to be taken when cleaning up. Masks and facial respirators should be worn when sweeping in the room, and windows should be opened to provide proper ventilation. These measures will only help protect against air-born diseases such as histoplasmosis, a fungus that can sometimes be found in bat and bird droppings, but cannot definitely protect those working these spaces.312
Rene Kurowski and Michael Ostapchuk, “Overview of Histoplasmosis“ American Family Physician, 66, no. 12 (2002), http://www.aafp.org/afp/2002/1215/p2247.html, (accessed December 14, 2010).
The following items need to be addressed in the short term, 1-3 years Commissary: 1. Replace roof: The roof should be replaced within the next two years, or as soon as funds can be allocated. It should be replaced with a material that imitates the wooden shakes of the original roof. One viable solution might be the stamped sheet metal panels that from a distance resemble a wooden shake roof. While replacing the roof and any rotten or deteriorated decking, the related cornice work should be repaired or replaced around the entire exterior. Nonhazardous insulation should be added to the attic space to assist with energy efficiency. A new gutter system should be installed, complete with leaders to run the water away from the foundation.
Fascia board dangling on rear needs replacement and repair.
Gutter system needs to be replaced with a new leader system that will lead moisture away from the foundation
Roof needs replacement in short term
2. Replace wiring and outlets: After thorough cleaning, the wiring and plumbing throughout the Commissary should be inspected by licensed electrical and plumbing contractors. Then, repairs should be made. Not only do these failing systems provide avenues for disaster of flooding and fire, but they also pose great threats to the security and safety of the building. Exposed wiring and plumbing is not safe for visitors.
Wiring should be inspected by a licensed electrician.
3. Exterior stone cleaning and repointing: The exterior stone of the building should be professionally cleaned and repointed. Repointing, a process for repairing failing mortar by removing it and replacing it with new mortar, can be a dangerous endeavor if not done delicately by a professional. Preferably, someone who is familiar with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Restoration should complete the work. This will ensure that they will know how to work with the durability and strength of the stone. If the new mortar is harder than the previous Stonework should be repointed anywhere where the mortar is mortar and the stones that it is supporting failing. This will not require complete repointing, but several and binding, serious issues can result. areas will need attention and repair. Analyzing the mortar and creating a match is an essential step and its necessity cannot be overstated.313
Robert A. Young, Historic Preservation Technology. (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2008), 425.
4. Paint exterior surfaces: The exterior wooden surfaces previously primed as a part of immediate action should be painted in the next 1-3 years with two coats of paint. Additional layers of paint will further protect the wood and will continue to extend the life of the building as well as any remaining original materials. 5. Construct proper handicap access: Rehabilitation for public use triggers compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, alterations that affect usability must provide accessibility to the “maximum extent feasible.”314 Thus, the buildings undergoing major renovations must have handicap-accessible entrances, corridors, and washrooms. If the buildings are to be used by the general public, they must be accessible. The costs of making the Commissary handicap-accessible would be minimal because all major functions of the building would occur on the first floor. The entry doors must be at least three and a half feet wide and pose no problem for wheelchair access. An ADA-compliant entrance ramp, with a 12:1 slope (that rises one foot total height for twelve feet of length) could be easily fitted to the Commissary on the north end that formerly served as a post office. Both the parking lots and sidewalk should be smooth and level to facilitate wheelchair use. With centralized bathroom and kitchen facilities close by and easily available, visitors would have complete access to all public areas of the building. ADA Regulations and Technical Assistance Materials are available online from the U.S. Department of Justice at http://www.ada.gov/.
Location for new ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp
U.S. Department of Justice, “2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design,” Department of Justice, http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm#403e (accessed December 14, 2010).
Warehouse: 1. Cleaning: The interior of the warehouse should be cleared of unnecessary objects. Some of the clutter should be cleaned up, allowing visitors to see what the interior looked like originally. The flour sacks and other agricultural materials should remain on display. All windows that are no longer in the window openings should be retained as well for replacement at a later stage of preservation.
Any unnecessary objects should be removed from the warehouse. This would allow visitors to see the space, if requested and approved by the owners.
Administrative Office: 1. Replace roof: The roof should be replaced within the next two years, or as soon as funds can be allocated. It should be replaced with a material that imitates the wooden shakes of the original roof. One viable solution might be the stamped sheet metal panels that from a distance resemble a wooden shake roof. While replacing the roof and any rotten or deteriorated decking, the related cornice work should be repaired or replaced around the entire exterior. Nonhazardous insulation should be added to the attic space to assist with energy efficiency. A new gutter system should be installed, complete with leaders to run the water away from the foundation. 2. Replace wiring and outlets: After thorough cleaning, the wiring and plumbing throughout the Administrative Office should be inspected by licensed electrical and plumbing contractors. Then, repairs should be made. Not only do these failing systems provide avenues for disaster of flooding and fire, but they also pose great threats to the security and safety of the building. Exposed wiring and plumbing is not safe for visitors or potential library patrons.
All electrical wires should be concealed and live wires should not be left hanging.
3. Exterior stone cleaning and repointing: The exterior stone of the building should be professionally cleaned and repointed. Repointing, a process for repairing failing mortar by removing it and replacing it with new mortar, can be a dangerous endeavor if not done delicately by a professional. Preferably, someone who is familiar with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Restoration should complete the work. These standards state that “Chemical or physical treatments, if appropriate, will be undertaken using the gentlest means possible. Treatments that cause damage to historic materials will not be used.”315 This will ensure that they will know how to work with the durability and strength of the stone. If the new mortar is harder than the previous mortar and the stones that it is supporting and binding, serious issues can result. Analyzing the mortar and creating a match is an essential step and its necessity cannot be overstated.316
Biological growth needs to be removed from stone on house, particularly the north chimney.
4. Paint exterior surfaces: The exterior wooden surfaces previously primed as a part of immediate action should be painted in the next 1-3 years with two coats of paint. Additional layers of paint will further protect the wood and will continue to extend the life of the building as well as any remaining original materials. 5. Construct proper handicap access: Rehabilitation for public use triggers compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA, alterations that affect usability must provide accessibility to the “maximum extent feasible.”317 Thus, the buildings undergoing major renovations must have handicap-accessible entrances, corridors, and washrooms. If the buildings are to be used by the general public, they must be accessible. The costs of making the Administrative Office handicap-accessible would be minimal because it is a one-story building. The entry doors must be at least three and a half feet wide and pose no problem for wheelchair access, and the rear door could easily be adapted for wheelchair access. An ADA-
Young, 403. Young, 425.
U.S. Department of Justice, “2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design,” Department of Justice, http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm#403e (accessed December 14, 2010).
compliant entrance ramp, with a 12:1 slope (that rises one foot total height for twelve feet of length) could be easily fitted to the Administrative Office at the rear, attached to the concrete patio. A sidewalk leading to the patio would have to be constructed, and it should be smooth and level to facilitate wheelchair use. As noted previously, ADA Regulations and Technical Assistance Materials are available online from the U.S. Department of Justice at http://www.ada.gov/.
The concrete patio at the rear of the Administrative Office would be a great point of entry for an ADA-compliant wheelchair ramp.
The following actions need to be taken in the long term, 3-5 years: Commissary: 1. Repair or replace window sashes: At this stage any deteriorated window sashes or frames should be replaced with windows of like kind that appear the same or retain the same openings as the original windows. This step of restoration includes the return of the missing window on the façade that was filled in with stone. Opening this window will not only bring more light into the building, but this will also restore the original appearance of the façade of the Commissary.
At this stage, the window on the façade should be uncovered and replaced with a window to match the one on the other side of the façade.
2. Paint interior walls: After all hazardous material has been removed, the walls of the interior should be repainted. A sample of the paint should be analyzed to see if it contains lead and any portions that are peeling or flaking should be carefully removed. Paint not only protects the plaster of the walls, but will also restore the finished look of the space for visitors. Color selection should be based on what was originally within the space.
After all other interior cleaning is done, the walls should be repainted.
3. Repair and refinish all interior woodwork including staircase, doors, windows, trim: Following the repainting of the interior walls and the removal of all hazardous materials, the staircase, doors, windows and trim should all be repaired and refinished. This includes the removal and replacement in like kind of any damaged or rotten supports, particularly on the staircase. Many of the treads need to be replaced, as well as the bottom step on the stairs. They are currently unstable and unsteady and should not be used until they are properly repaired. 4. Construct restroom: Restrooms should be constructed on the grounds in a small building near the Commissary. The facilities can serve for the complex of three buildings until additional bathrooms can be installed across the street behind the Administrative Office. While the porta-potty meets the needs of most visitors right now, if more visitors come, particularly those requiring ADA-accessible facilities will need to be added to the complex. A separate building will allow the addition of restrooms without altering the original layout of any of the buildings. 5. Repair front stoop: The front stoop should be repaired at this stage, making sure that similar stone and mortar to the original materials are used in the repair. The temporary handicap-accessible ramp will have been removed and the original steps need to be repaired by a trained professional who is familiar with the Secretary of the Interior’s standards, much like all of the other stone work and repair. 6. Repair patches and refinish historic wood floors: Following all other interior repairs have been completed, the floors should be repatched, with careful attention to match the patches with the direction, texture, and color of the original flooring. After patches are in place, the entire floor should be sanded, cleaned, and then stained to protect the surface. Warehouse: 1. Repair/replace sill below end door: The ends of the floorboards turned on their sides are exposed to the elements in their current state. Most of the sill appears to be rotten under the doorway. Careful inspection and repair and replacement should be completed. 2. Repair tin on porch roof: All loose tin on the warehouse and the porch should be tacked down Damaged sill on north elevation of warehouse. so they do not blow in the wind. The one sheet of sheet metal on the north end of the porch roof that has flipped up and folded and since rusted, should be replaced with a similar sheet of corrugated tin. A fascia board could be added to the end of the porch to block the wind from pushing up the individual sheets of tin. 3. Removal of tin siding: If funds and time allow, the removal of the tin siding on the warehouse would restore the exterior to its original appearance. 116
Administrative Office: 1. Repair or replace window sashes: At this stage any deteriorated window sashes or frames should be replaced with windows of like kind that appear the same or retain the same openings as the original windows. 2. Fill and stain interior walls: After all hazardous material has been removed, the walls of the interior should be filled and stained. The stripper that was used on the walls in previous remodeling attempts was apparently very strong and caused the grain of the wood to rise. In order to refinish the walls and stain them to their original appearance, many of the large gaps and spaces in the grain will have to be filled with a wood putty that will accept stain. Only after these large chunks are filled will the wood of the walls be able to be stained. Stain not only protects the walls, but will also restore the finished look of the space for visitors. Color selection should be based on what was originally within the space. 3. Repair and refinish all interior woodwork: doors, windows, trim: A similar process of filling and staining should be used on all woodwork within the Administrative Office, including doors, trim and windows. Any loose paint should be removed and new paint applied to painted surfaces. Stain should be applied elsewhere.
Door to be refinished in Administrative Office
Raised wood grain of interior of Administrative Office
Landscape Elements: Several stone retaining walls can be found on the grounds of the main administrative complex of Skyline. The Administrative Office, the former administration building, is separated by a rock wall and walkway that leads to the front of the building. Some of these walls need to be repaired and repointed, as several large stones have fallen out, particularly by the basement of the Commissary. These do not pose immediate or short-term preservation threats, but rather, these need to be repaired in the long term, as funds and labor become available. Much like the other masonry and stone repairs, professionals who are familiar and recommended for their work with historic masonry repairs should do the repair of these walls. Special attention needs to be given to the selection of mortar, to ensure that it is not harder than the stones of the wall and that it resembles the materials and consistency of the original mortar.
Stone wall in need of repair need basement entry
Stone wall and pathway by Commissary
SKYLINE FARMS LANDSCAPE ASSESSMENT Landscape Description Geography The Southern Appalachian Region begins in Pennsylvania and ends in northern Alabama. The region contains three major geomorphic provinces: the Blue Ridge Province, the Ridge and Valley Province, and the Allegheny and Cumberland Plateaus. The Skyline Farms community is located on the Cumberland Mountain plateau in Jackson County, Alabama, a mountainous wilderness for most of the nineteenth century. Described as “one of the beauty spots in the [Tennessee] valley,”318 the site is about 1,680 feet above sea level, on a slightly rolling plateau on top of Cumberland Mountain, with steep areas on the borders of the plateau. The soil is primarily sandy loam which erodes easily but is good for agriculture. The growing season is about 206 days per year.319 The landscape was called “endowed by nature,”320 and it was described in the outline plan for Cumberland Mountain Farms: The project is located in Jackson County, an extremely rural county in the Northeast corner of the state. The county is cross by two ranges of mountains, namely: Cumberland and Sand Mountains. Because of the geographical make up, transportation is extremely difficult and a large percentage of the population of this county live in a remote section with only an occasional access to the County Site.321 The site is approximately 16 miles northwest of Scottsboro, the County Seat.322 A Jackson County newspaper commented in 1933 that “it is said a plan is afoot to build a road up Maynards Cove to connect with the upper end of Paint Rock Valley and opening up vast area known as Cumberland Mountain, which heretofore had no chance of development.”323 In 1936, another 10,000 acres were added to the project, and in 1937 the name was changed from Cumberland Mountain Farms to Skyline Farms.324 Today, the region still is largely rural and agricultural; it remains heavily wooded and the residential properties have many trees. The wilderness remains protected by the North Alabama
“Lumber Corporation Will Develop Vast Cumberland Mountain Into Homesteads,” Jackson County Sentinel, June 28, 1934.
319 320 321 318
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, “Skyline Farms,” Report 1606, 5. “Rehabilitation is Sought for County,” Jackson County Sentinel, December 6, 1934.
“Cumberland Mountain Farms: Outline of Plan and Procedure of Operation of the Cumberland Mountain Farms, Jackson County Rural Homesteading Project,” 1.
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Security Administration, “Skyline Farms,” Report 1606, 2. “Applications Taken,” The Progressive Age, February 23, 1933, quoted in Kennamer, 2-3. Kennamer, 19-20.
Birding Trail and the Skyline Wildlife Management Area (WMA). The Skyline WMA encompasses about 46,353 acres in multiple tracts within 684,160-acre Jackson County.325 A large tract is located just north of the Skyline town center that can be accessed from Highway 146. Site Number 41 of the North Alabama Birding Trail is part of the Skyline WMA. The visitor guide describes the area: Skyline Wildlife Management Area is an extensive tract of wild lands in northeastern Alabama, which hosts the state’s only population of Ruffed Grouse. This carefully managed area also supports older hardwood forests utilized by nesting Cerulean Warblers. A visit to the WMA is most rewarding in spring when Yellowbreasted Chats, Field Sparrows, Indigo Buntings and Prairie Warblers can be heard singing throughout. With careful exploration and a little luck, spring visitors might also hear the drumming of the male Ruffed Grouse, although Wild Turkey and Northern Bobwhite are much easier to find. This mosaic of regenerating habitats provides a tremendous diversity of bird species, making it a special treat for birders.326 The area is watered by a small creek draining from Hill Pond, northeast of the community. The creek flows southwest, crossing Highway 79 and County Road 25 south of the town center, and eventually drains into the Tennessee River.327 In 1935, the community considered building a dam to supplement a large lake, possibly Hill Pond, but the dam was never constructed.328
Wooded Agricultural Landscape Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “Outdoor Alabama: Wildlife Management Area Maps and Hunting Permits,” http://www.outdooralabama.com/hunting/wildlife-areas/wmamaps/ (accessed November 11, 2010); Alabama Department of Archives and History, “Alabama Counties: Jackson County,” http://www.archives.state.al.us/counties/jackson.html (accessed November 11, 2010). Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, “Flock to the River Valley: North Alabama Birding Trail,” http://www.northalabamabirdingtrail.com/pdf/nabt_guide_final.pdf (accessed November 11, 2010).
327 328 326 325
Alabama Department of Archives and History, “Alabama Counties: Jackson County.” “Cumberland Mountain Scene of Big Fourth,” Jackson County Sentinel, July 11, 1935.
Wooded Residential Lots Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Roads On today’s landscape, Highway 79 is a north-south corridor that connects Skyline to Scottsboro, Alabama, to the south and Winchester, Tennessee, to the north. The community’s boundaries fall along this road between its intersection with County Road 245 to the north and County Road 17 to the south. Additional smaller roads provide access from the community center at the intersection of County Road 25 and County Road 107 to the family farms. County Road 25 forms an approximately two-mile, north-south loop to the west of Highway 79. County Road 107 runs east-west through the community center. It dead ends approximately three miles west of the community center, and travels east then north forming a five-and-a half-mile loop from the community center, east of Highway 79, then connecting to Highway 79 near the northern boundary of the community. County Road 307 begins approximately two miles west of the community center and dead ends approximately one mile south of County Road 107. One mile west of the community center on County Road 107 is the start of Country Road 207, which is a mid-twentiethcentury road that dead ends a half mile to the south. Country Road 143 starts south of the community, travels east approximately 0.3 miles, then makes a right turn north for approximately a mile, ending at County Road 107. Cemetery Road starts at the intersection of Country Road 107 and Country Road 143 and travels approximately a half mile west to Highway 79 through the center of Skyline Cemetery. East of County Road 143, County Road 219 starts at County Road 107 and travels approximately a mile south, then dead ends. North of its intersection with County Road 107 is an unnamed county road that travels past the Travis Cemetery just over a mile before it dead ends near Hill Pond. East of County Road 219 and the unnamed county road on County Road 107 is County Road 241, which travels approximately two miles east before it dead 121
ends. County Roads 143, 219, and 241 are on the southern section of the County Road 107 loop. On County Road 25, south of the community center, project participants constructed a bridge over a small creek. It is arched in shape and appears to be constructed of limestone. All the community’s roads were constructed by project participants using locally quarried limestone, including bridges and culverts where necessary.329 The roads have been widened and paved with asphalt since their original construction, but most follow the historic route. Also, the bridge appears to have been reinforced with metal since its construction, but the original limestone bridge structure remains intact.
Original Limestone Bridge on County Road 25 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
U.S. Department of Agriculture, “Skyline Farms,” 4.
Fences and Fields The community homesteads included at least forty acres of land for crops, a subsistence vegetable garden, fruit orchards, and dairy cattle. Many of these homesteads have changed in acreage and agricultural products, but the agricultural character of the community remains unchanged. The fields today are commonly used for cattle, corn, and hay, are separated by mature trees or post and wire fencing, and many have agriculture ponds, probably man-made. The agricultural character of the community is also maintained by the presence of small farmhouses, either original colony houses or modest new construction, and agricultural outbuildings including barns and sheds. There are also fences near the community center. Original sandstone fences and sidewalks are located near the administrative office and commissary buildings.
Agricultural Landscape, County Road 107 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Administrative Office Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Commissary Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Public School Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Fence outside Administrative Office Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Sidewalk outside Commissary Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Original Sandstone Entrance to Skyline Cemetery, 2010 Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Landscape Preservation Recommendations Natural Landscape Although property owners, acreage, and agricultural products necessarily change over time, it is important for this community to preserve its agricultural character with open space. The Skyline Farms Heritage Association should educate property owners about the agricultural history of the community and encourage agricultural activity continue. Built Landscape The use of local sandstone and limestone is a character-defining feature in the built landscape. Preserving sandstone buildings, including the original portion of the school, the commissary, and the administration building, and sandstone structures, including the stone walls and sidewalks near these buildings and the entrance to Skyline Cemetery, is important to maintaining the community’s character. It is also important to preserve the stone bridge on County Road 25, and any other bridges or culverts constructed from local stone during the project. Many of these properties are not owned by the Skyline Farms Heritage Association, so it is important to educate property owners about the history of the community and the importance of local products in providing employment and materials during the project.
Wooded Residential Lots Photo Courtesy of the Center for Historic Preservation, 2010 Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Landscape Interpretation Recommendations Since the present-day landscape vividly reflects the original landscape of Skyline Farms, it is an ideal setting for outdoor recreation that connects visitors to the local history through outdoor activities. Driving Tour One option is a driving tour that includes the community center, public school, and many of the surviving colony homes. Starting at the intersection of County Road 25 and County Road 107, visitors will see the commissary, warehouse, cotton gin, health clinic, administrative offices, and site of the blacksmith’s shop and cannery. Following County Road 107 east until it intersects with Highway 79 takes visitors though a neighborhood of surviving colony homes and offers the opportunity to see the existing rock quarry and the community’s cemetery. Visitors would return to the community center by following Highway 79 south to County Road 25, passing the public school and returning to the community center. An expanded version could continue on County Road 25 to Highway 79 and take visitors past the first colony house. A driving tour map and guide could be distributed by the Skyline Heritage Association at the Commissary. Bike Trail Another option is a bike trail that follows the same path as the driving tour. Vehicle traffic is minimal on County Road 107, and starting and ending at the Commissary provides parking. Scenic Byways County Road 107 and County Road 25 could be considered for designation as scenic byways for their cultural, scenic, and historic value. Agritourism Agritourism could also be a viable option, bringing in tourist dollars and helping to preserve the agricultural landscape of the community. Residents could offer pick-yourown produce, farmer’s markets, farming camps for children, corn mazes, hay rides, and other farm-based activities.
MUSEUM PLAN FOR THE COMMISSARY The Commissary at Skyline Farms has a wealth of objects and documents in its collections. It is fortunate enough to have genuine artifacts from Skyline’s long history that will be relevant in exhibits and as teaching materials. In order to develop a museum that will showcase these collections in the best way possible, there are needs that must be met. Objects and documents in the Commissary fall into the following categories: Books Paper Documents Farm Equipment/Hardware Store Items (Bottles, Cans, Etc.) Early Artifacts Shelving Most of these objects are in good shape and can be cleaned and kept in use. For objects that are in danger of severe long-term damage, there are solutions for cleaning and storage. Collections and Archives Needs To ensure the prolonged life of the objects at Skyline, the following observations and recommendations should be considered. The environment of the Commissary is precarious at best for these documents. It has electricity, but no heating or air conditioning. Coupled with the holes in the windows, there is no way to avoid excessive temperature fluctuations or control humidity. Some documents are stored on wood, which is not a safe medium for paper storage. Many paper documents have been displayed unprotected. There is evidence of water damage in some yearbooks. There are also open boxes of documents, with dust and pest damage evident in some (Figure 1). The papers need to be cleaned, copied and placed in storage boxes in a climate-controlled space.
Many of the objects on the shelves at the Commissary are aged. Time spent on these shelves has led to a small accumulation of dust, but that is to be expected with the structure in its current condition. In order to keep the artifacts safe from dust, pests, and other air pollutants, the windows must be repaired and a climate controlling system must be put in place. These objects should be cleaned and a full inventory should be done. The inventory in place now is sufficient, but in the future it will need to include pictures, donors names, and all other pieces of information on the objects. The condition of paper materials at Skyline varies. While some documents seem to be fairly well preserved, there are many items that have fallen victim to pests and other damage. Proper cleaning and storage will ensure Skyline's collection for generations to come. Storage Recommendations General Environment A stable environment should be found to store Skyline's document collection until such time that the Commissary has a system of climate-control. It would be preferable not to store the collection in a basement or attic, as each tends to have issues regarding moisture or excessive heat. A dry area, away from any water source such as a washing machine or bathroom, with air circulation is important to resist the growth of mold. Exposure to heat should also be regulated; do not store collection near a heat source such as a fireplace or radiator. Proper fire precautions should also be taken. Fluctuations in temperature and humidity, resulting in excessive moisture to dryness in paper breaks down the material composition and can cause cracking, warped covers of books, and flaking ink. Conservation professionals recommend a relative humidity range from 35 percent to a maximum of 55 percent humidity. The air control system should never be turned off, even during non-operation hours; stability of environment is crucial. Temperature should be maintained from 65 to not more than 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Air circulation will remove pollutants and help control mold. Please note that storage recommendations may be different for textiles. Exposure to light is another reason that proper storage is necessary. As stated, light weakens paper and can cause discoloration, and therefore original documents should only be exposed to light when being used, preferably under an incandescent bulb source. Collections should be placed on metal shelving and never be stacked or stored on the floor. Any object that may be harbor biological or chemical agents that can be harmful to the rest of the collection must be isolated. This includes nitrate film, which is subject to spontaneous combustion. Pest Management It is not always obvious what can indirectly hurt objects. While some things may seem obvious, for instance food and drink should always be keep from historical documents and the trash taken out daily, the most dangerous thing to expose the collection to is live flowers and potted plants. Bugs almost always reside in live flowers and plants, whether visibly or not. Letting bugs near a collection could end in a disaster, and flowers and plants are the most common ways of introducing them. Regular housekeeping is also a good way to deter pests; shelves should be dusted and floors swept. If carpet is ever laid, it should be cleaned with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, which picks up dirt and dust instead of recirculating it. If a pest problem 130
becomes evident, it is not recommended to use chemical sprays, as it will likely effect the document collection, even if properly stored. All of the above cleaning solutions are generally part of an integrated pest management plan, which should be set into place to prevent any infestations. Archival Supplies Proper storage materials will be obtained through the Center for Historic Preservation. These include: Acid-free tissue Low lignin, buffered folders Archival boxes made of corrugated board Mylar Double-sided tape Self-healing cutting board Scissors Categorizing the documents in specific, labeled file folders will ensure easy retrieval. However, it is important that documents of approximately the same size and weight be stored together. If not, uneven pressure can cause damage. If this is an issue, it is best to have two folders of the same subject, separated by weight and size. There should also be no extra room in a box, as slumping will occur. These materials will help keep the collection physically and chemically stable. Cleaning Recommendations Stored documents should be laid flat on a proper cleaning surface, such as buffered board. All documents, with the exception of the pest-ridden, should be laid flat to be surface cleaned, and have any metal or rubber bands removed. Any bookmarks or scrap pieces of paper should be removed from books. Objects should be placed on a proper cleaning surface and lightly dusted or wiped with an acid free cloth. There should be no chemicals involved in cleaning objects. Mild soap and water are the only acceptable cleaning agents for objects, but should only be used in extreme circumstances. Dusting is the best method of cleaning. An appointment can be made to demonstrate proper cleaning techniques, or a DVD may be sent in lieu of a live demonstration. Supplies Proper cleaning materials will be obtained through the Center for Historic Preservation. These include: Cotton gloves Mask Bone folder 131
Absorene Dirt Eraser Brush (soft paint brush will be sufficient) Scalpel Buffered board Hobby knife Handling Recommendations When handling historic documents, it is important to be careful with the document and wear gloves. Latex is acceptable, but cotton gloves are best. Not only do the dirt and oils on the human skin wear down the material composition of paper, but also it is important for the health of the handler to wear gloves and a mask if a document shows evidence of pest damage and/or mold. Unregulated contact with mold, dormant or active, can result in serious health complications, especially if the handler already suffers from allergies. Museum Plan Collections Policy To establish a museum at the Commissary, there must be a collections policy in place. This policy will define the purpose of the museum, the scope of the museum’s collections, how the museum will acquire objects and artifacts, and how the museum will manage those objects. Sample collections policies can be provided so that one may be written customized to the Commissary’s objectives. The most important part of the collections policy is the mission statement. This will define what the museum’s purpose is in the community. It does not have to be a complex statement. Something simple that allows the public to understand the intentions of the museum, whether it be to educate the public, provide a heritage center for the community, serve as a storage facility for invaluable objects in Skyline’s history, or all of the above. The statement of purpose will expand on the museum’s purpose in the community. This can include goals, both short and long term, that the museum hopes to achieve. It will also include what the museum plans to do with its artifact and paper collections. It is important that this statement of purpose be specific. The goal with the Commissary is not to become a storage facility for the town of Skyline, but to create a center of the town’s heritage where locals and visitors alike can come and learn about its history. A collections policy will prevent donations and gifts of objects that do not help the museum in achieving that goal. Next, the collections statement will be more specific in terms of the artifact and paper collections and what their purpose is in the museum. Are the objects going to be available for research or interpretive use or both? These questions must be answered in order to understand who will have access to this museum. There must be rules for accessioning and deaccessioning artifacts. This is to protect the museum and prevent it from becoming a storage facility rather than an interpretive center. Rules must also be put in place for loans. There are several objects on loan from members of the Skyline community. These objects are not owned by the Commissary and therefore must have paperwork that states who the owner is if they ever need to be returned to the owners. Also, in 132
the future, if objects are loaned out of the Rock Museum to another establishment, agreements must be made for the protection and care of those objects. Those specific rules will be outlined in the collections policy. Once an object joins the museum’s collection, it must be assigned a number so that it can be kept in the inventory. The collections policy will also outline the conditions for the best care of its artifacts. Those requirements can be found in the conservation plan of this document. The collections policy will state who carries insurance on the structure and the objects within, in case of any emergency. An important part of a collections policy is setting guidelines for employees to follow. In particular, a regular schedule for inventory should be established. For example, a complete inventory on the entire collection, both papers and objects, should be done as soon as possible. After that, an inventory should be conducted once every one to three years to observe the artifacts’ appearance and ensure that they are not suffering from pest or chemical damage. A thorough cleaning of artifacts should take place at the same time. Finally, the collections policy must discuss the issue of access. Who can have access to these artifacts? If the documents are to be for storage only, aside from the ones on display, it must be stated that the public is not allowed access to those documents. Can the objects be loaned out to other institutions with similar mission statements? What will the hours be? Who will be in charge of observing visitors when they are in proximity to the collections? These questions must be answered, both as guidelines and as liability protection. Exhibits While Skyline has a rich history, it would be difficult to develop exhibits for everything. Once again, this is meant to be a heritage center for the town, not a storage facility. Therefore, it is important to concentrate on main themes and not get carried away with donations. The collections policy will assist in that right. There are a few themes that run through the history and will serve as the areas of focus for exhibit development (Figure 2). They are: Early History Commissary and Handicrafts Rock School Music and Dancing Farming Photography The right side of the Commissary will serve as exhibit space, along the walls and partially down toward the back storage room. The left side will serve as the visitor’s area where they can purchase items that are for sale, like t-shirts and local products. Also, since this store is such an important part of the town’s history, it is recommended that the middle floor be left open for receptions and other social events that might take place. The area farthest from the front doors and closest to the back storage area will be left open and without exhibits. This will provide them with a seating area so that they may learn more about the town with talks and presentations. There should be a projector or some sort of display implement in this area to assist in discussions.
With the original shelving still in the building, it provides prime storage space for exhibits. The shelves should be stabilized and repainted, but no other work should be done. It is important not to put any more holes in the shelves, with nails or staples or anything of that sort. The long, short shelves that currently reside in the middle of the room will be moved to different locations. Their new locations can be seen on the sketch included. Those lower shelves can be used as storage if a cloth is draped across. This will keep visitors from handling any objects that might be too close to the floor. The area known as the post office should be closed off to visitors. The floor is unstable and can cause liability issues. At present, the space is being used as a storage area. It should be set back up to look like a post office. The barber’s chair is a part of that space and should not be relocated. It should be cleaned and used to interpret the changes in the building over time. The bookshelf in front of the window to the post office should be moved and placed in storage. At present there is no need for it.
Archives Plan Display Recommendations Paper Documents: The risks of being unprotected include exposure to dust, pests, weather damage, and proximity to other pieces of the display. Coal and even wood shelving in contact with paper can be destructive, as they emit chemical reactions harmful to paper (Figure 3). Moreover, some of the protective displays currently set in place do not sufficiently protect the documents. If protective cases are too small, the point where the document begins to overflow out of the case will become weakened due to the pressure of the case itself. This also is a risk to the part of the document that is exposed (Figure 4). It is encouraged for paper collections that are being considered for display be reproduced on a high quality scanner, and the copies be displayed. There are too many factors that can harm an original document on display to risk it. Light is another danger to original documents on display. Light will weaken the fibers of the document, and likely cause discoloration over time. Filters or coverings can be purchased to minimize the effect of light, but they are not foolproof and can be costly. If determined that an original document must be on display, it should be for the shortest time possible in an area with minimal exposure to light, with any windows covered (Figure 5).
Books: There are many yearbooks and ledgers in the Commissary. Although books are vulnerable to the same issues as paper, books are not so simply replicated. Therefore, if Skyline feels that the yearbooks should be kept on display, certain materials are recommended. There are a variety of book cradle displays on the market that would be good alternatives to the current display. The cradled display will elevate the book, and extend the use of the book by not putting as much strain on the spine. Excess strain will cause the spine to break, can be expensive to repair. As books were made in the late nineteenth century and ever since, the methods for building the spine incorporated cheap ways of attachment. Whereas most older books were sturdy because they were usually hand-bound with needle and thread, these “new” books are often merely constructed with glue, making these books much more likely to be damaged if proper precautions are not met (Figure 6). However, if displays are used, care must be taken to ensure that the display is the appropriate size. Having an oversize book on a small display will harm the book if it hangs off, pressing into and denting the cover.
Additional Information and Resources It would be useful to either review publications or attend a workshop that addresses issues with document care. The Library of Congress has extensive information on most aspects of conservation, and can reached at: http://www.loc.gov/preserv/careothr.html The Northeast Document Conservation Center is also an excellent source for such resources. In addition a template for an emergency response plan and many links addressing specific care issues, the NECC also hosts a series of webinars, which are usually $80 if you register early. They are very helpful live, interactive online classes designed to help those with private
collections. Their schedule is available at: http://www.nedcc.org/education/webinars.calendar.php Specifics of document care and pest management are available on the site can be reached at: http://www.nedcc.org/resources/introduction.php Conservation Plan for Archives and Objects Collection Immediate Action Required It is of the utmost importance that documents and objects are stored in a stable environment. Given that the Commissary lacks heating and air conditioning, and threats from the state of the building itself, it is imperative that all documents be moved to a secure location immediately. The elements of a proper storage facility are outlined in the Storage Recommendation section. Most objects are in less danger than the documents and can withstand the climate change until a controlling system can be installed. Short Term Plan (1-12 months) Surface cleaning: Before being stored, the documents require surface cleaning. A hands-on demonstration can be made at both parties earliest convenience, or a visual recording of proper cleaning techniques may be sent. Artifacts also require a surface cleaning. This will be a light dusting of objects with a non-abrasive material. The cleaner should wear gloves - preferably cotton. Metal objects with rust should not be cleaned with chemicals. Leather objects should not be treated with oils or soaps. In most cases, chemical damage to these objects is irreversible. These objects should be stored in climate-controlled spaces. Removal: During the winter, there are certain objects that should be removed from the museum and placed in a climate-controlled space. Documents should be placed in the proper storage facility. Any textile in the museum should be stored in an acid-free box with acid free tissue paper. Leather cracks in the winter, so the small chairs should be removed as well. Metals will survive the cold, so the farm equipment and hardware can remain in the museum over the winter months. Scanning: Scanning is a useful tool, but can be dangerous to documents if not done correctly. Please consult Permanence of Paper for Publications and Documents in Libraries and Archives, which outlines the standards for copying and scanning historic documents and is available at http://www.niso.org. Once these standards are understood, scan in a high resolution all documents after surface cleaning if there is not already a high-resolution copy. Destroy originals of those pieces heavily affected by pest damage afterwards, which may be done in consultation with a conservator, and use scans for display. Backup images on an external hard-drive and store in an off-site location. However, it is important to understand that digital copies have a relatively short shelf life, and other kinds of reproduction should eventually be invested in. Other Uses for Digital Files: These digital files can be useful when Skyline develops a website; an online collection could be included in the website if the proper files are available. Furthermore, small archives are finding that social sharing sites such as Flickr have been invaluable in obtaining additional information, especially to identifying unknown people in photographs. Although the Skyline community seems very knowledgeable of their past, if there
are any photographs with unidentified people, uploading images to sites such as this might be an avenue to consider. Follow-up, of course, may be necessary to ensure authentication. Materials: Acquire proper storage and cleaning materials. Work in consultation with MTSU or a state institution to ensure proper store and cleaning. Disaster Preparedness: Although difficult, it is necessary to prioritize the collection, which is an integral part of an emergency action plan. Priorities should include those documents deemed rare, unique, and heavily used. An emergency response plan will ensure that proper action is taken in the event of an emergency, generally with a description of who is responsible for what actions as well as a list of emergency contacts. It is best to have a pocket response plan, which is a plan that can be kept on your person. If the action plan is stored with the collection and there is an emergency, there is a chance that you could not access it, so keeping it on hand will ensure that proper steps can immediately be made. Long Term Plan (1 – 10 years) Policy: A preservation policy should be set in place. A preservation policy provides written guidelines for future conservation activities and will be included with the collections policy. A guideline for the collections policy can be found in the Museum Plan section. Insurance: Insurance on Skyline's collection is an important option to consider. Since value is hard to place on such collections, it may be a good idea to investigate special coverage. Format: Microfilm has the longest shelf life of any reproduction media. If funds become available, preservation microfilming may be contracted out to ensure to longevity of the collection. Ensure the preservationist is reputable; it may also be useful to ask other institutions for recommendations. Access: Control of the access to the collection is recommended. Unfortunately, theft is an issue that too many institutions deal with. A solution for the Commissary may be, when and if the collection is brought back, to set aside a part of the Store as a “study area” for researchers. A small locker area should be set nearby for researchers to put their bags as they work. Pencils should be the ONLY writing utensils allowed, under all circumstances. It is not worth the risk of a researcher accidently making an irreversible mark on a document. Furthermore, researchers should be made to sign in on a register. This will show the last date of use and user of a document in case of theft. Professional researchers are generally accustomed to such requirements. These requirements should be outlined in detail in the collections policy. Catalog: A cataloging system should be set in place. In this instance, it may be best to group certain parts of the collection together, since many individual documents are related. Related materials should be cataloged as one unit. Cataloging in this manner will prevent unnecessary handling of unrelated documents, and should be relatively easy since Commissary workers have already worked with grouping the documents. Any cataloging marks should be made lightly in pencil if marking on a document and on the folders and boxes if Skyline decides to individually catalog each item. If not, it is preferable to only mark the folders and boxes. It is best to have many different formats of historic documents. In addition to the scanned copies and the original documents, the Commissary should eventually plan to implement an automated catalog record. Doing so will only widen Skyline's accessibility to researchers and the public.
Artifacts: Storage of artifacts not in use should be considered. Similar to documents, objects should be stored in materials that are chemically neutral, support the item well, and provide dust-free environments when possible (e.g., acid-free boxes; metal shelves with doors for closed storage; acid-free tissue). Funding: In addition to any local fundraisers, Skyline can apply for funding from state, federal, and private agencies for the continued conservation of the document collection. The Northeast Document Conservation Center can help planning funding proposals. Additional information can be found at the links: http://www.nedcc.org/funding/introduction.php Http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=474 Restrooms: At present, the facilities do not meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, which can be found at http://www.ada.gov/. To open the museum to all visitors and provide the best experience possible, and also to meet these standards, restrooms are going to have to be built. It is not a recommendation to put restrooms inside the Commissary, but instead to build a separate structure next to the store. First Exhibit for Commissary The Commissary has a lot of potential for a museum. This is a rudimentary plan for an installation, with a few suggestions on artifacts to use that are already in the building. There will be a few new materials suggested, especially when text is inserted into the exhibits. It is important to note first that any exhibit space must follow ADA guidelines. The most important of these guidelines is that there must be 44 inches of space in between exhibit panels and cases to ensure that all wheelchairs can be rolled through comfortably. All other guidelines can be found at www.ada.gov/. As mentioned in the museum plan, the right side of the building is perfect for exhibit space. The shelving is already in place, although some will have to be moved. It is not recommended that artifacts or documents be placed on the bottom two shelves. These can be covered with a dark cloth. The layout for the museum is provided in Figure 2 and will help with putting everything together. All parenthetical references are for the history text included in this report. Early History First, the visitor will walk in the front doors of the Commissary. When they turn to the right, they will walk under a replica of a Cumberland Mountain Farms sign found on the Library of Congress website (Figure 7). To the right, the shelves there will contain information and artifacts the early history of Skyline. This can include text on the New Deal (1), the Resettlement Administration (3), tenant farmers, and cooperative memberships. The other topics that should be included in this part of the exhibit are TVA and the displacement of families (4), criteria for membership (6), and discussion of the early community and its members (8). Artifacts from this time period can include the handmade chairs that are already in the store, the first telephone, and possibly the stenciling from the colony house down the street, if it is available. Images that should be considered include a photo of an early colony house and a map of Jackson County. If possible, include an image of the stenciling on the floor in the renovated colony house.
Commissary Next, visitors will turn to the left and enter a sort of recreation of the Commissary. This should be an artifact-heavy area with store merchandise, a cash register, and old signs if available. There are two images from the Library of Congress website that can be used as models for this setup, one of which is included here (Figure 8). Walking forward, the visitor should flow into the next store set-up, which includes the thread case and sewing kits on the shelves.
The second section set aside for the store, as seen in Figure 2, should concentrate on how the store was a community center (12). Text in this area should discuss the building of the structure and its role in the community – the post office, barber shop, and phone center, and how residents depended on the store for supplies like coal, seed, and craft materials. Text should discuss early crafts that the residents of Skyline partook in, like quilts, chairs (Figure 9), cabinets, and anything else relevant (26-28). This can also include early community events.
Rock School Next, the visitor will come up on the exhibit for the Rock School. This school was an integral part of the community. Text should include the history of school buildings in Skyline (9, 40-41). Describe the typical education of residents and sports in which students might have been involved. An artifact already in the store that can be used is the window, although more should be found (also in Figure 9). This exhibit should show how the school has changed over time and developed into what now exists. There are also Library of Congress images showing the early school that should be included (Figure 10).
Music & Dancing Following the school, the next exhibit will highlight the history of music and dancing in the community. Visitors should be able to read about the music (28), competitions (30, 31), the band and dancers (12, 31). There should be a short biography of Chester Allen (35) next to his guitar and possibly some song lyrics. The store does not have many artifacts in regards to music, so those might need to be collected. There are photographs that can be incorporated into the exhibit that will need captions to provide background information. The photograph of the group in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. is a perfect example of what to use. Farming The visitor will then turn left and approach the opposite wall. This is where the farming exhibit will be. This exhibit should discuss Skyline and how it was settled as a farming community. Include information about sharecroppers (3), how much land they were given (8) issues farmers had growing crops (14), participation in the war effort (14), and the effect of farming on residents (40). There are many artifacts in the store that can help explain the history of farming in the community. Tools of all kinds should be on the shelves, along with captions explaining their uses. The tools in the front of the store should be relocated to the area in front of these shelves, and can be hung on the ceiling like they are now. The text should discuss the crops that were grown in the community and the difficulties of farming the land. This exhibit should also discuss the store and the warehouse in the rear and the part they played in the farming community. This exhibit will be artifact heavy, although there are some images on the LOC website.
Photography The Commissary has a lot of photographs on display right now, taken from the LOC website. Those images should be shown on a digital frame, rather than hang in between support beams. However, there should be a text panel about those photographs and the importance of photography at Skyline. The photography section included in the history provides background for this text (16-24). There are several photographs that have been “killed” (Figure 11). Those should be placed throughout the exhibits and explained on the last panel. At the end, when visitors finish looking at the shelves, they should know why some photographs have holes punched in them and some do not.
The open space at the end of the exhibit side of the room will be used as a gathering space for school children to have discussions about their community. The post office should be interpreted as a post office and a barbershop. The chair that has been in that room since the 1950s is important in the interpretation of the Commissary as a community center. Exhibit text explaining this will help the visitor understand. This room should not be open to the public, but instead the bookcases removed from in front of the window so that visitors can see inside. The door with windows can also provide a view inside the room. A step stool may be necessary for small children since the window is high up the wall. The left side of the building should be used as the visitor’s center. There, visitors can look at another exhibit that is currently in the museum. They can also purchase merchandise on sale in the store. The low shelf with the bins is a good place to store these goods (Figure 12). Also, in this location, whoever is on staff at the time can see what is going on in the store and decrease the threat of theft. There should also be a permanent donation box in this visitor’s area. Any extra materials like notebooks that they can flip through can be placed on top of the low shelf.
Exhibit materials for this first installation should be easy enough to come by. Text can be printed on a regular printer and placed into a frame to sit on the shelves next to photographs and artifacts, although keep in mind the font must be big enough for everyone to read. A size 16-font is about the size needed. If this does not work, hollow core doors can be purchased at any hardware store like Lowe’s or Home Depot. Two doors can be hinged together to provide panels where just about any sort of paper or frame can be mounted. It is recommended that the kitchen utensils be removed unless they were sold in the store. If that is the case, they should be placed in the “Store” exhibit. Also, duplicates of farming equipment should be removed and stored to provide room for photographs and text. Visitors should not handle the maps currently on display. Instead, if there are specific maps that are important to the exhibits, they should be copied and used in frames where visitors can see them.
SKYLINE FARMS STRATEGIC PLAN Introduction Every organization starts with a vision or mission statement. These over-arching ideas guide the organization, but they do not provide the concrete, physical steps on how to accomplish these goals. The strategic plan is the road map that provides the directions and guideposts, enabling the organization to understand what steps they must take to meet their long-range plans and recognize if they are moving off-course. It provides a means of reviewing the organization’s past course of action, makes sure there is clear progress towards the future goals, and corrects the organization if it has veered off course. The strategic plan is not meant to tell an organization what they are doing wrong or where they are committing errors. There are areas where improvement is needed, but this holds true for every organization. Every organization during its formative years will encounter oversights and issues they failed to recognize and plan for initially. This is the nature of development, and these issues are important educational opportunities transforming the leadership from energetic volunteers to experienced cultural stewards. This strategic plan is drafted after reviewing the bylaws of the Skyline Farms Heritage Association, hereafter abbreviated to SFHA, and after discussion with members of the SFHA in order to determine what their hopes and goals are for their community and historic landscape. The plan is divided into four sections: Organizational Changes, Acquisition Goals and Reuse, Funding Strategies and Preservation Initiatives, and Volunteer Management and Leadership Training.. Organizational Changes examines structural changes within the board which will aid with efficiency and re-distributing the workload among the board of directors to create a more professional and long-lasting heritage landscape. Acquisition Goals and Reuse focuses on properties and structures the SFHA needs to acquire in order to preserve their cultural and historic landscape as well as recommended uses. It does not cover fundraising or the financial element. Funding Strategies and Preservation Initiatives will contain all of the information pertaining to money and finances. Volunteer Management and Leadership Training covers programs for youth, volunteers, and the next generation of the SFHA leadership. Sustainability is used throughout the strategic plan. What is meant by sustainability? A sustainable model is one that encourages community involvement, fosters broad planning and implementation, and reuses historic elements, insuring environmental and economic resources are not wasted. Additionally, the term is used to indicate a business model where the financial stability of the organization is solvent and enduring. If SFHA fails, it is unable to continue its mission of preserving the cultural landscape. Everything in this report is directed towards a stepby-step plan of planning and preservation for future generations. Organizational Changes The first step in the strategic plan involves an examination of the Board of Directors’ organization within the SFHA. The Board of Directors are the leaders needed to direct and maintain the preservation and education efforts. A constant challenge facing boards is one of apathy, and in this regard, SFHA has a very active and committed board. It is important to maintain this level of dedication and energy, but it can lead to board members feeling exhausted and even burning out. The board members ideally share the workload so no one person 147
becomes overwhelmed. The board of directors develops and shapes the financial and preservation plans for the organization. The board of directors will also vote on appropriate bylaw changes and handle the legal and ethical issues confronting the organization. Finally, the board of directors will interact with the community, the civic organizations, and the appropriate levels of government in the day to day operations. The board members are often the chief contributors to their organizations taking their commitment beyond the level of the average member. Board members supply all of their skills and a substantial amount of resources to their organizations, and it for this reason sizable boards of directors are established. Several changes are recommended to the current structure of the board. The new seats are strategic, opening new opportunities for collaboration and partnership within the community and local government. The current board make-up, according to the bylaws, is the executive council made up of the president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, and historian. In addition, the bylaws stipulate a steering committee composed of four members in good standing. In practice, the steering committee is not currently used which means the executive committee has to assume their duties and the duties of the steering committee, doubling their workload. The first suggestion is a bylaw change removing the steering committee and increasing the executive board from five people to nine people. This retains the nine seats originally detailed in the bylaws but formalizes the board into a single body rather than two separate groups under an umbrella title. The odd number of seats helps avoid ties. It is important these four additional seats are filled with deliberate choices rather than asking for interested community members. The ideal board will possess many of the professional skills mentioned earlier. The board needs to also represent the agencies best able to support the organization. One position should include an official from the county’s tourism commission or with an agent of city planning. Dus Rogers, the official responsible for the economic development of Jackson County could serve in this capacity and should be actively recruited. This enables the SFHA to remain actively involved in the greater tourism planning of Jackson County and insures Skyline will be a part of any tourism planning. With its proximity to the Walls of Jericho and its historic character, the community would benefit from this form of partnership. Also, historic preservation is a strong tool of neighborhood and community revitalization. This creates local jobs and retains more dollars within the community.330 The attorney acting on behalf of SFHA would make an excellent addition to the leadership as one of the extended board positions since legal advice is indispensable in the modern era. Having an attorney on the board insures a qualified legal counsel is present at business meetings when proposals are discussed. This prevents the board from having to adjourn until they can contact an attorney for guidance and creates more efficiency at the meetings. It also insures free counsel for routine services such as contract negotiation. Considering the expense of even these routine services, the benefits of an attorney on the board becomes clear. Another position should be offered after identifying conscientious and capable business men or women in the Skyline, or greater Jackson County, area. This individual would bring business management skills to the board, something many, if not most, historical organizations lack. Bill Gibson is the designated accountant for the SFHA. If he is a licensed CPA with a private practice, he should be considered for a seat unless there are readily identifiable
. Donovan D. Rypkema, The Economics of Historic Preservation: A Community Leader’s Guide (Washington, DC: National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1994), 12.
corporate sponsors whose CEO or owner would make a better candidate. Often, these individuals also bring their own sizable charitable contributions to the board. These individuals then provide a network of contacts eligible for sponsorships or fundraising. The final position needs to be targeted for individuals with a strong history of fundraising and charitable contribution management. This does not mean the potential board member needs grant-writing experience. The financial element will be addressed later in the strategic plan, but grants provide only a minor component of funding for historical organizations. Private contributions generate the largest component of operating budgets, and it is essential the board has someone unafraid to approach individuals seeking contributions for the SFHA’s endowment. Having a board member with a fundraising background is critical as many historic sites launch without the endowment needed to maintain their structures or pay standard costs such as utilities. It is not enough to obtain funds to purchase the structure or property, routine expenses must be paid also. By selectively offering these positions, the board develops partnerships within the county, enabling it to better meet its goal of being significant beyond the local level. Also, these board members bring critical professional skill sets to the board’s disposal. It is obvious the current board treasures their history and is committed to its preservation and sustainability, and adding these individuals only strengthens this commitment and encourages its success. Acquisition Goals and Interpretation Currently, the SFHA has two acquisition goals. It seeks to purchase the rock store (Commissary) and the rock house (Administrative Office). The stated plan includes making the rock commissary into a living history museum and the administrative office into a library. It is recommended the board obtain two additional properties and changes its suggested use for the administrative office. SFHA should acquire the structures in a set order based upon their availability and their threat level. Threat level pertains to their physical condition and danger of demolition or development in which the structure would lose its historic character. The first structural element in the landscape should be the warehouse. The warehouse serves a crucial point as the first phase of acquisitions. First, it would serve as the chief community gathering spot for rentals which will generate revenue enabling additional purchases. Second, the warehouse’s adaptation is less expensive and can then serve as storage while major renovation takes place on the rock commissary, preparing it to serve as a living history museum. Third, the warehouse, being wooden, will not endure time with the same structural soundness as the rock commissary. Its early acquisition and maintenance will require less funding than later acquisition. With the rock commissary intended as a living history museum, exhibit space and the gift store will utilize the majority of the floor space. Too many people, the presence of food, and the presence of drink will endanger the artifacts in the museum space which must be avoided. For Skyline reunion groups and other community events, there is no other meeting space available within the commissary. Having a portion of the warehouse’s square footage available for these groups provides a rental community space where they can gather. Additionally, the warehouse is a key component in interpreting the development of the original Skyline Farms. The administrative office, the commissary, and the warehouse all contain elements of the overall agrarian elements in the economy and organization for the first colonists.
There is a parcel of property adjacent to the rock commissary which contains chimneys, the only remnant of a colony house destroyed by fire. This property would make an excellent addition to the SFHA. The property lies between the commissary and the school providing a natural walking tour and maintains the historic structures within close proximity of one another for interpretation. Local citizens have offered to donate existing colony houses to the SFHA as long as the homes are relocated to another site. Obtaining this empty property would provide a site for an original colony house. By moving a house to this property, it protects it from demolition. Also, the house remains within its historical context meaning it retains any National Register eligibility. Moving structures is an expensive process, and it is possible these offered colony houses might face demolition before the SFHA obtains the needed funds. As a protective measure, accurate drawings, pictures, and floor plans should be made. If a colony house is destroyed, these plans would enable the construction of a reproduction. The second landscape element for acquisition is the parcel of land. This land is currently vacant. Any development of the property privately can jeopardize the potential historic character of the community and limit the options for heritage tourism. Purchasing the property serves as a protective measure in that regard. This site faces a higher threat than the warehouse, but the warehouse can potentially generate the resources needed to acquire the property faster through community rentals. This site also possesses interpretive possibilities beyond a colony house. The settlers placed the original craft cabins for men and women near this property. There is no recommendation to build reproductions of these cabins, but these do not need to be rebuilt to develop their interpretation. The rock commissary should be acquired third. This site, as the living history museum, provides the bedrock of Skyline’s historical interpretation, but the building is stable and faces no current threats. With the surrounding properties acquired and developed, the artifacts can be safely stored while the much-needed maintenance is performed. Also, the SFHA has access to the commissary and can lease it annually. Ideally, a long term lease can be developed with a small annual payment until such time as the SFHA can purchase the building outright. The final structural element of the landscape should be the administrative office. The administrative office, while beautiful, is not critical to interpretation. Also, the administrative office appears to be the most problematic to acquire and faces the greatest financial cost due to the perceived financial value by the current owner. Unfortunately, important historic and cultural value does not translate into important financial value. The administrative office also faces no current development which reduces its threat level. In the future, the board can attempt to negotiate a purchase from the owner or potentially develop a planned giving where the administrative office passes into the hands of the SFHA upon the death of the current owner. Should the SFHA successfully obtain the administrative office, it is strongly advised not to petition for a library branch from either the state or county. In 2009 and 2010, dozens of libraries and research libraries across the United States faced permanent closing due to budget shortfalls. Charlotte-Mecklenburg County, NC proposed closing twelve branch libraries in March of 2010.331 Yes, a library branch would bring in state funds to maintain and stock the library, libraries become easily cut programs during lean budget periods. The administrative office
. Library Journal.com, “Charlotte Meckenburg Library To Close Half Its Branches, Lay Off 140,” Library Journal.com, http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/communitymanaginglibraries/884428273/charlotte_mecklenburg_library_to_close.html.csp (accessed 12/14/2010).
would make a better learning resource. The two strongest uses would be as either a technology center or as a small archival depository. The square footage of the house and the interior floor plan limits the use of the structure. Some corporations, specifically those dealing with technology, provide equipment to communities demonstrating a need. This might provide computer hardware, monitors, a printer, and potentially a scanner. This would benefit the children of Skyline by providing more technical skills, a requirement in the current labor market. With the documentary evidence SFHA currently owns, the administrative office could also function as an Appalachian learning center, a miniature archive. These are two suggestions the SFHA can deliberate upon if the house passes into their hands, dependent on the prevalent economic conditions at the time. Finally, the non-profit is warned it should not attempt to acquire excessive amounts of property or structures. Each will carry with it its own maintenance costs and needs, and this would prove taxing to the financial health of the SFHA. Instead, focus on a few core properties and insure their preservation for posterity. By ignoring the desire to develop a “building zoo”, historical character is maintained, and the interpretation of Skyline’s past can remain concise and focused. Funding Strategies and Preservation Initiatives Funding is obviously the topic most will consider the most important. It is not. The organization and make-up of the board is the most important element of this plan. A wise and competent board can make more from scarce resources than a reckless and impatient board with a large endowment. Money can never replace poor decision-making. Many historic sites have received gifts of buildings and artifacts. However, the sites never receive an endowment along with these properties. What is an endowment? The endowment is the total value of the organization’s investments. Historic sites receive these properties with nothing to fund preservation-related activities, and the boards face a struggle simply to pay the monthly utilities. Building maintenance is deferred until it reaches a crisis point and exceeds the non-profit’s limited funding. Visitation at local historic sites, often only a few thousand, rarely generates the funds necessary to cover the various expenses. The goal of the strategic plan is to develop financial principles and strategies in order to enable SFHA to avoid this scenario. Before discussing fundraising proposals, the board must understand certain financial myths. First, there is not a never-ending supply of grants waiting for applicants. Most of the grants available are small-scale grants, and many of these grants are designated for specific costs and cannot be allocated elsewhere. Also, many grants are not available to the SFHA until it owns the properties in question. Some community foundations do exist that provide local grants for purposes of preservation and restoration. The Alabama Historical Commission contains a list of these foundations. The first suggested foundation is the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. Their website is http://danielfoundationofalabama.com, and the Daniel Foundation of Alabama does provide
grants for capital campaigns. The winter 2010 deadline has passed, but the next deadline is March 15, 2011. Alabama Power also provides community enrichment grants to 501(c) 3 non-profit. The methods of applying can be found at http://www.alabamapower.com/foundation/guidelines.asp and there are two grant deadlines. Amounts in excess of $50,000.00 are reviewed quarterly, and amounts under $50,000.00 are reviewed every six to eight weeks. These are two examples of community foundations. The Alabama Historical Commission should be contacted by a representative of the board for additional guidance. The Alabama Historical Commission can be found via the internet at http://preserveala.org/staffdirectory.aspx?sm=a_d, and Mary Shell is the community preservation planner. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recommends two resources for guidance familiar with Alabama’s preservation laws. The first is Mr. Frank White, the Executive Director of the State Historic Preservation Office and the State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO). His phone number is 334-242-3184. His e-mail is email@example.com. The second contact is the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation, the Statewide Partner. David Schneider is the Executive Director, and his contact information is: UWA Station 45, Livingston, Alabama 35470. His phone number is 205-652-3497. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org, and the website is http://www.alabamatrust.info. Either of these gentlemen should be able to assist Skyline with understanding the preservation tax credits within the state of Alabama as well as file any necessary paperwork. There are additional grants on national and state levels as well including: • The National Trust for Historic Preservation does provide smaller grants, and their website is http://www.preservationnation.org/resources/find-funding/. The Kresge Foundation, based out of Detroit, MI, is a $3.1 billion private, national foundation. Their website is http://www.kresge.org. The 1772 Foundation focuses on historic preservation, and it primarily targets farming and industrial development. The website for this organization is http://www.1772foundation.org. The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) offers grants each year. These grants are confined to particular programs, but Skyline would be eligible for these funds. The website for this organization is http://www.imls.gov. The National Endowment for the Humanities at http://www.neh.gov provides a wide array of grants for projects involving the humanities. The Alabama Humanities Foundation at http://www.ahf.net/index.html The Appalachian Regional Commission at http://www.arc.gov 152
Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs (ADECA) at http://www.adeca.alabama.gov
Grants are useful sources of revenue, but they must not be depended on as sources of funding. Grant funds are competitive and tend to be less available during times of economic hardship. Having board members involved in the professional community and in the fundraising communities will supplement the grant funds. An early issue that needs addressing is the cost of the properties SFHA should acquire. The board of directors has yet to consider the warehouse or the vacant property for acquisition. The board would need to approve the planned purchase of these properties and arrange an appraiser to obtain fair market value. The purchase price for the rock commissary has been set at $50,000.00. This does necessitate a side note. The by-laws currently are unclear on situations involving a conflict of interest, and this needs to be clarified. With a board member offering to sell the structure to the board for a set price, the agencies overseeing non-profit organizations will take notice. First, how was the purchase price set? Ideally, any property being acquired by the SFHA should be appraised by an independent agent to insure the most accurate estimate. When any votes are taken regarding the properties, any board members with a vested interest, such as ownership, should abstain from voting. It is a conflict of interest and unethical for a board member to take part in any vote regarding the purchase of property they own by the non-profit. It is preferable to make the property a tax-deductible gift although this is not always possible for financial constraints. To purchase the four properties mentioned earlier will require a large cash principle which the SFHA currently lacks. A dual strategy of leasing and purchasing becomes necessary in the short-term. For the eligible properties, SFHA should negotiate a relatively lengthy lease with the property owners. This would enable a small yearly payment, perhaps even subtracting directly from the amount needed to purchase the property. This secures the SFHA’s access to the properties while protecting the property owner until such time as the non-profit can purchase the properties in full. There are many alternative fundraising methods independent of grants, and in fact, individual (90%) and corporate (5%) contributions generate the overwhelming majority of funds for historic sites. There are numerous options available, many requiring no initial expense from the non-profit. SFHA needs to investigate planned giving within their community. This planned giving should be confined to financial contributions unless the property offered is one of the targeted properties in the SFHA strategic plan. A board member solely responsible for fundraising would be an ideal candidate to lead this initiative. The potential donor negotiates what will be given and any restrictions with the organization prior to their death. Upon their death, the property or funds transfer from the deceased’s estate to the non-profit organization. An attorney on the board could negotiate these planned gifts and provide the necessary paperwork, expediting the process. Admission and gift store revenues for historic sites make up miniscule portions of the overall budget, and both house museums and local historical sites will confirm these amounts will not sustain an institution’s endowment. Much of Skyline’s funds have come from memberships and from the gift shop sales. These sales cannot generate the needed revenue 153
stream to meet the funding goals and needs. Membership fee levels need to be examined. Higher fees tend to reduce overall members, but those paying the higher dues demonstrated a commitment to the organization and its willingness to grow. Twenty member at twenty dollars each are generating less revenue than ten members at fifty dollars each. There are currently ten membership or donor classifications for the SFHA, and this needs to be streamlined. The SFHA does not need two different named levels for a $1,000.00 and above contribution. Rather than setting a family membership as $15.00 per person to a maximum of $60.00, simply set the family level membership at $75.00 for one year. A potential source of revenue will be the warehouse as a community site. Renting the facility for reunion groups and for community celebrations will bring in much needed revenue. Revenue needs to be set in a capital fund which can also generate interest on the principle, and the principle needs to remain untouched to avoid its depletion. Volunteer Management and Leadership Training The board of directors needs to supervise a volunteer management and leadership training program. The lifeblood of any program is its education and community engagement. Also, with most historic sites, older community members occupy the board seats. These men and women are either close to retirement or have already retired. Who will take over and manage the 501(c)3 when they are gone? Who will have the training, experience, and dedication to maintain the SFHA? With its close proximity to the school, the rock commissary will make an excellent service project for children or the local Boy and Girl Scout troops. The students can help with routine property maintenance as well as oversee the gift shop once the living history museum opens. Students would make excellent docents or historical interpreters for the community as well, providing tours, and this meets the non-profit’s goals of preserving the community history. Students would be ideally suited to handle the new social media element of advertising and community engagement as Facebook and Twitter. These volunteers of today are can become the leaders of tomorrow. Developing committees, like one for Skyline Days, provides a valuable opportunity to train those interested in the administrative details. It provides a measure of responsibility and encourages a greater level of involvement from the volunteers. Why is it so important to include the students and younger community members? A common challenge in preservation circles is incorporating newer and younger members. These younger members fail to see the value in history, and many develop their love of history as they mature in years and develop the greater perspective of it. The goal is sustainability. This is not just financial but must also encompass the people involved with preservation and interpretation. Someone will have to fill vacant board positions for the organization to continue. It is imperative that younger members become involved in order to obtain the training and knowledge needed to sustain the community-centered organization that SFHA is developing. Some additional websites for information on volunteer programs: • • http://www.serviceleader.org http://www.volunteeringinamerica.gov 154
By developing these four areas, SFHA can build a sustainable program to interpret the federal programs leading to the colony’s formation, the musical heritage which brought it national prominence, and the unique culture which developed in the Great Depression and New Deal Eras in Northern Alabama. Skyline will fulfill its goals in the articles of incorporation for its 501(c)3 status, and it will better educate its community-members about their past.
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