A history not forgotten

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Clinch-Powell recently joined forces with the Grainger County Historic Society to host a restoration event at the Historic Rutledge Presbyterian Church. Appalachia CARES AmeriCorps member, Victoria Stidham, organized the event for the purpose of both making improvements to the grounds of the church as well as raising awareness in the community for the beautiful historic church located in downtown Rutledge.

The Grainger County Historic Society, headed by Ginger Spradlin, provided guidance and volunteers to assist with safely cleaning the headstones in the cemetery, many of which are over 150 years old. Victoria has been documenting and mapping out the various headstones, as an updated burial plot map has not been created in many years. Clinch-Powell Staff, members of the Historic Society and volunteers from the community cleaned old tombstones so they can be more easily read and the names recorded. There are roughly 237 burial plots in the cemetery, and several still available.

Rutledge Presbyterian Church’s congregation was formed in the 1850s, but the church was built in 1903 and was active as a house of worship until 1989. It was deemed a National Historic Site in 2016 because of the original Tiffany stained glass windows. Clinch-Powell took charge of the care and upkeep for the church earlier this year at the request of the Board of Trustees for the Church and has plans to make the church a central part of the local community once again. Clinch-Powell Executive Director Lindy Turner says, “The church is a beautiful building and would be an ideal location for weddings and community gatherings. We would love to see the church open for visits and to continue to be part of the community in some way.”

This event is the first of many to come in an attempt to restore and make improvements to the church and inspire more community involvement. With partners like the Grainger County Historic Society and support from the local community, the church can continue to be cared for and significant in the community. For more information on supporting this or other projects concerning the church, contact Clinch Powell at 865-828-5927 or email info@clinchpowell.net. For more information on the history of our area and other historical sites in Grainger County, contact the Grainger County Historic Society at 865-712-5527.

The care and continued upkeep of the graveyard and historic church is dependent on public donations and support. Your tax deductible gifts can be sent to Clinch-Powell, PO Box 379, Rutledge TN 37861.