Origin of the Germantown Historic Preservation Association
The Suburban Garden Club spearheaded a master plan to establish the Germantown Museum organization. In 2008 the club, under the leadership of President Jacque Clift, donated money as a challenge grant to the museum. The Germantown Museum was organized in July 2008, by members of the Suburban Garden Club of Germantown and members of the Germantown Historical Commission. Suburban member Carolyn Gates
was elected President; Jacque Clift served as Vice-President; Louise Bagby was the Secretary; Carolyn Grizzard served as Treasurer.
The group received its 501(c)3 status in December 2008. It operated exclusively for charitable and educational purposes by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting historical, social, educational, and cultural objects which chronicle the history of Germantown, Tennessee, and by providing educational events and programs to promote a sense of pride about Germantown’s history.
The Museum organization is governed by a Board of Directors. The group created a website at germantownmuseum.org and prepared a storyline of the history of the Germantown area. They led a fundraising effort to begin the restoration of the Germantown Baptist Chapel on Germantown Road and had membership drives. The Museum group created permanent historical exhibits at the Germantown Methodist
Hospital and at the Bobby Lanier Farm Park. They also sponsored temporary pictorial exhibits at the Shelby County Office Building, the Germantown Performing Arts Center, and the Germantown Municipal Library. In 2018 members co-sponsored with the Suburban Garden Club, the Germantown Historical Commission, and the Germantown Parks and Recreation Department a grassroots fundraising event to renovate the Cloyes House at Oaklawn Garden. The members also began work on creating a new website on the history of Germantown so that anyone, anywhere, and anytime may learn about Germantown’s history. This project was made possible with grants from the Shelby County Commission and the city of Germantown.
Germantown Citizens Form a Museum Board
A group of Germantown citizens has come together to create a museum centered around the heritage and history of the community of Germantown. Carolyn Gates, president of the Museum Board of Directors said, “Our area is so rich in history and we are dedicated to preserving that history for future generations.” Louise Bagby, who is serving as the chairperson of the City of Germantown Historic Commission is also on the Board of Directors for the new museum. Mrs. Bagby and her commission have been working on a number of projects to capture the area history and said, “Now we hope to have a place to show the work that has been going on for many years”.
The group came together in July of 2008 and have already drawn up Articles of Association and By-Laws. The application for a 501 (c) 3 status as a charitable organization has been approved.
The goals of the museum board are to establish a focal point that could be used to support education, the pride of the community, and preservation of the rich history of Germantown.
Mrs. Jacque Clift, president of the Suburban Garden Club of Germantown, said, “Our club is behind this effort 100%. We have offered a $1,000 grant to the project to get things started.” Mrs. Clift is also a Museum Board member and was recently elected Vice President. She is handling much of the organizational paperwork.
Mr. Andy Pouncey, Assistant City Administrator for the City of Germantown and a member of the new museum board, commented on the many places one could start to tell the story. He recalled the native American settlements around what was then called the Nashoba River. The word Nashoba is the Chickasaw word for Wolf. The Wolf River marks the northern boundary of the present-day City of Germantown. Mr. Pouncey also mentioned Francis Wright and her social experiment which was one of the first of its kind in the nation. He listed the influence of the railroad, the Civil War, the area churches, and of course the strong history of the show horse community in Germantown.
In the coming months, the Museum Board will continue the planning process with the help of a professional museum consultant, Mr. Jim Schippers of Kingston Springs, Tn. Mr. Schippers has been instrumental in assisting other small communities throughout Tennessee to establish museums. Recently, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander visited the Parsons, Tn. museum and declared Mr. Schippers had “produced perhaps the finest small museum in Tennessee.” Mr. Schippers provided consulting and training for that site and continues to support its operation.
Mrs. Gates said, “We have a long way to go and need the help and support of the entire community, but in the end, we expect to have a world-class facility that reflects the spirit and pride of Germantown.”
(The original thought was to build a brick and mortar museum, but decisions were made to build an online museum that would be available to the public for anyone, from wherever and at any time.)
Carolyn Gates, First President of the Germantown Museum
Jacque Clift speaks about the Museum
Front Row: Jackie Clift, Jeanette Watkins, Sid Witherington, Joni Roberts, Eleanor Woodward, Sharon Cornelius
Back Row: Walter Wills, Sue Williams, Mary Welsh, Andrew Pouncey, Edna Guntert, Lee Millar, Bill Watkins
(Not pictured Susan Glassman, Carolyn Grizzard, David and Janey Jackson)
Photo Courtesy of Alex Ginsburg Photographics
Andrew Pouncey, Current President of the Germantown Historical Preservation Association