Sevierville dedicates new gazebo
Those in attendance at Friday afternoon's dedication of the new city gazebo off Bruce Street downtown heard an interesting development on the project to beautify the adjacent city parking lot, and it's come all the way from Washington, D.C.
Judge Rex Henry Ogle announced the plan to plant a sapling grown from Andrew Jackson's mighty magnolia on the South Lawn of the White House.
Ogle procured the tree several years ago from John Rice Irwin, the founder of the Museum of Appalachia. Ogle previously served on the museum's board of directors, and was given the sapling by Irwin, who himself had obtained a seedling or sapling from Senator Howard Baker.
Baker, who was White House Chief of Staff under President Ronald Reagan, had also been given a tree by the 40th president.
"(Norma and I) wanted to see that tree in a public place, for people to enjoy and know it's history," Ogle said of the gift that had been presented to he and his wife. "President Andrew Jackson, we all know, was one of the greatest heroes from the state of Tennessee — a war hero from the War of 1812 — what most most people may not know however, is that he was a United States Senator, a member of the Tennessee Supreme Court and he helped draft the first Tennessee Constitution."
"After he was elected, but before he was inaugurated, his wife, Rachel, died," Ogle said.
Jackson's wife had always been a fervent gardener, "So he took the seedling (to Washington)," according to Ogle.
The sapling, which is about eight feet tall and currently resides at a nursery in Cocke County, will be moved to the grassy area adjacent to the new gazebo and city parking lot in November.
"This is about bringing to a very historical place, something that I hope the citizens of Sevierville — and indeed so many others — get to enjoy," Ogle said. "It's with great honor that we donate this tree to the city of Sevierville."
As for the new gazebo and green area, which most in attendance agreed is an attractive addition to the city's downtown area, Sevierville Parks and Recreation Director Bob Parker said the project was a combined effort.
"This project was a true team effort by the city of Sevierville," Parker said. "And that was a vision of our city administrator, Russell Treadway.
"He recognizes a lot of talent within the city ... and a lot of creativity and hard work went into the building of this gazebo and parking lot."
"Originally the Public Building Authority had the idea for the parking garage here, and when we didn't do that we had the space down here and it kept getting uglier and uglier," Treadway said. "(So) we were trying to figure out something we could do to fix up the space and brightening it up a little bit.
"As we started to look at it, we realized we didn't have to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands on engineering design, we had a lot of talent on staff that could do these kind of things.
"So (everybody) got involved in it, and, like Bob said, it was truly a team effort," Treadway said. "We're particularly proud of it and the contribution all the city employees made to make it happen."