Monday, August 31, 2009

TVA helping Swift Museum Preserve Memories of Old Rogersville School


‘We want to preserve all this. We don’t want it to be lost.’ — Stella Gudger

ROGERSVILLE — The Tennessee Valley Authority is helping Rogersville’s Swift Museum preserve memories of the city’s segregated Swift College and Price Public School for generations to come.

Last year the TVA donated $2,000 to the Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum, located in the refurbished Price Public School building on Hasson Street.

Last Thursday, however, TVA volunteers got more hands on, delivering donations of furniture and $1,000 to the center, as well as professional architecture plans for a proposed new design of the museum.

Swift Museum contains artifacts and photos from the old Swift College, which was located on the current grounds of the Hawkins County School central office in Rogersville from 1883-1955. The college later became the segregated Swift High School which closed in 1963, and the building was subsequently demolished.

Vyrone Cravakas, who is TVA’s manager of diversity management based in Knoxville, was among the TVA employees who came to the Swift Museum Thursday to lend a hand.

“Today was a day of service, and basically it’s a shift in focus from in our diversity efforts to get away from corporate contributions and focus more on community involvement,” Cravakas told the Times-News Thursday.

Jeff Bobo —

Several volunteers from the Tennessee Valley Authority visited Rogersville Thursday, August 27, 2009 to help give the Price Public Community Center and Swift Museum a donation of furniture and $1,000. The TVA also donated architectural plans for a redesign of the museum.

Cravakas added that he is very impressed with the museum, which he described as “a testimony to not only the rich history of this area, but also a testament to the pride that the individuals who attended this school still have.”

TVA architects compiled several drawings for the Swift Museum redesign and presented them Thursday to PPCC Director Stella Gudger. The TVA volunteers also carried in donated furniture and set it up in the museum as dictated by the drawings.

There were other aspects of the proposed redesign which will have to be accomplished at a later date including installation of a blown up photograph of the old college building, which will take up an entire wall.

Another wall will receive a large timeline which follows the significant historical events of Swift College as they coincided with significant events in the history of African-Americans.

Although the college closed its doors in 1955, many of its alumni are still living and return often for reunions or just to visit and reminisce. Gudger said another addition to the museum will be a flat screen TV which will play a continuous loop of video testimony from former Swift students about their experiences.

Ultimately Gudger hopes to make the museum an annual field trip destination for Hawkins County fifth-graders.

“We want to give back to the community and we want people to really know our history and our culture,” Gudger said. “We want to preserve all this. We don’t want it to be lost.”

Completion of the overall redesign is contingent on fund raising. Gudger said the PPCC is currently selling commemorative bricks which will be placed on a wall outside the south entrance. For more information about buying a brick contact Gudger at 921-3888.

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