Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back to School

Once we purchased the property we began researching its history.  John's grandparents moved there in 1970.  The previous owner purchased it in the 1920's.  That's about all we could find on our own.  

We asked Mr. Jack Howard (a local historian and dear friend) if he knew anything about the history of the property.  A few days later he brought us some research that he'd pulled together.  Apparently our home was built around 1887, and it was used as a dormitory for the divinity students of Cumberland University.  

Jack also provided information about 2 other buildings that used to be on our property.  

  • There was a large home on the property built by Judge Abraham Caruthers around 1845.  Judge Caruthers was the founder and first professor of the law school at Cumberland University.  In the late 1860's Cumberland purchased Judge Caruther's home and sixty acres to use for the law school for $16,000.  The law school never used the property.  Instead Cumberland's theological school used it, and it became known as Divinity Hall.  Castle Heights Military Academy purchased it in 1916.  When it was torn down in 1937 the bricks were salvaged and used to build the old gym at Cumberland and a home on West Spring Street.
  • There was also a small building on the property that was built as a kitchen & dining hall.  It would have been situated just behind Divinity Hall.  We do not know exactly when it was built.  This building was still standing when we purchased the property.  It had been used as a rental property for many years and was in very bad shape.  We had architects & structural engineers look at the building, but we could not save it.  We did manage to salvage several large hand hewn cedar beams, and we've had a large outdoor dining table & benches made from them.  It seemed fitting to have a dining table made from part of the old dining hall.

With the help of the internet and hours of determination we found these old photographs from back in the day. Here are a few fun facts to enjoy with these photos:

#1. The house/dormitory was built around 1887 without any indoor plumbing or electricity...Electricity was first provided in Lebanon in 1890. 

#2. The property was once the rough location of "the edge of town". Vagrants and criminals would have been kicked out just beyond our front yard.

#3. The average board at the Divinity Hall was $6 per month in 1894.

#4. In 1859 Cumberland, Harvard, & Virginia were the three largest law schools in the country

Dormitory in 1892

Divinity Hall 1890's
(purchased by Cumberland University in 1867)

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