Historical Signs detail County's Rich Heritage
— Interpretive signs being posted this week around the
Rutherford County Courthouse do more than give bits of
information about the Public Square predating the Civil War,
county grant coordinator Faye Elam says.
"You just feel like you're living the history standing there
reading it," says Elam, describing the sense she gets looking at
one of seven signs being erected on the square, "An 1860s View
of East Main Street," which features a shot by an unknown
photographer some 150 years ago.
Elam, who chairs the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce
Convention and Visitors Bureau, helped direct construction of
the signs Monday with Mona Herring, vice president of the
bureau. They should be up by mid-week, she said, in time
for the Saturday Market when fruit and vegetables are sold on
The East Main sign details the history of the former Union
University, Christian Church and Cumberland Presbyterian,
whose congregation was unable to finish
construction before the start of the Civil War. Federal
soldiers used the church as a hospital, barracks and prison
during the occupation of Murfreesboro.
Other signs describe Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest's raid; the
County Courthouse, one of a handful of antebellum courthouses
remaining in Tennessee; the Square in Wartime, with separate
soldiers, architecture and occupation; and the Founding of
Rutherford County and Murfreesboro.
"I think it will add to the residents' experience and the
visitors' experience when they come downtown because of
all the history," Herring said.
The city of Murfreesboro also has four interpretive signs posted
through the program:
at Cannonsburgh for Uncle Dave Macon Days;
at the Center for the Arts on College Street, describing the
history of the building, which was formerly the U.S. Post
* Linebaugh Library;
at the Civic
Plaza, describing the history of Murfreesboro and city
and at West
Main Street and the old depot, detailing the railroad and
The bureau began working on the sign project 14 years ago,
taking the vision of Jim Huhta, former director of
Center for Historic Preservation, and obtaining a $316,000
federal grant administered through the Tennessee Department of
Transportation with the help of former Congressman Bart Gordon,
The sign project cost a total of $519,000 and paid for 144 blue
directional signs, with additional grants coming from the
Christy-Houston Foundation and MTSU funding signs to make sure
the university was highlighted as part of the project. The
interpretive signs cost $8,000, Herring said.
Murfreesboro and Rutherford County have such a large number of
newcomers and visitors it's important to be able to tell the
county's story in a compelling manner, Herring said.
"On the weekends and evenings when people are strolling, it just
adds to the experience," Herring said.
The blue directional signs, which started going up in December
2009, have been helpful this week, she added, with thousands of
people visiting Murfreesboro for the U.S. Youth Soccer Southern
Elam pointed out that many people who visit Stones River
National Battlefield along Old Nashville Highway come to the
County Courthouse to continue their historical tour.
"It just ties it all together," she said of the new signs.