PROGRESS DOESN’T NEED TO ERASE HISTORY: Long-awaited dream come true

When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight nor for present use alone. Let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for; and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say, as they look upon the labor and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our father did for us.’

John Ruskin

19th century art critic,

social thinker, and philanthropist:



So began the public overview of a project a lot of people have been working on for a long time; some of them years longer than me . . .


Some of you long-time readers will remember me telling you about A New Day in our old downtown and how I’m on the board of Mossy Creek Foundation, a non-profit that is Building on the Past—Envisioning the Future.


This week we accomplished something!


The project proposal written in December 2015 culminated in this . . .


The result of a partnership between Mossy Creek Foundation, the City of Jefferson City (Tennessee), and supportive members of the community, Mossy Creek Station is a welcome addition to the Historic Mossy Creek District. Dreamed by a group of dedicated individuals, the outdoor space now welcomes everything from large community events to small family picnics and child’s play.


It’s a place to make memories and meet our neighbors.

The land once supported thriving businesses, some of the buildings erected prior to 1901 when Jefferson City, Tennessee was still known as Mossy Creek.


Bottom to top = oldest to newest businesses in each building


After a 2001 fire destroyed the buildings, the vacant lots were purchased by friends, Frank and Elizabeth Brown. When community members began envisioning a new day in the old downtown, the Browns donated the land to the City to be used for a festival park. Their gift encouraged the then newly-created Mossy Creek Foundation to continue building on the energy of our once-bustling historic district.


The Browns on groundbreaking day last September


Pieces started falling into place:

  • City established an Historic Zoning Commission
  • City approved an historic district overlay, designating a specific section of our city as the Historic Mossy Creek District
  • Guidelines adopted to protect the integrity of the District


Finally there was a plan in place for turning dreams into reality—

and creating the wonderful facility we celebrated this week.


But there was one important thing to remember . . .


Progress doesn’t need to erase history.

The structures at Mossy Creek Station were inspired by Jefferson City’s old train station. The event pavilion brings to mind a loading platform; the restroom building, our old depot, sadly razed in the 1980s.


Ready and waiting for our guests… The red brick Legacy Plaza pays tribute to Jefferson County residents and businesses past and present and features a recognition column of antique bricks rediscovered during site prep for the park.

Now you know why the park has a train theme!


One component of this festival park that was a “must have” from the earliest days of dreaming, is our Veterans Plaza. Because we want to honor all veterans, we intentionally took an “open arms” approach in deciding who can be included. It’s very simple: Anyone anywhere with a connection to Jefferson County is welcome to include any veteran in their life—living or dead.


To date, there are 560 bricks paying tribute to veterans. Isn’t that wonderful?

On Tuesday, a community gathered to celebrate the first time our national colors were raised in the new Veterans Plaza.


Who would raise the first flag? It was a no-brainer… U.S. Navy veteran, Frank Brown — donor of the land, Mossy Creek Foundation board member, and “Mayor of Downtown”.


With the addition of twenty-first century amenities, Mossy Creek Station is now positioned to encourage growth and welcome new investment in the Historic Mossy Creek District for years to come. We’ve a long way to go, but we had to start somewhere!



What a fun day!


Thank you, RM, for making the amazing cookies for our guests!

I’m looking for ideas…

What fun small-town historic district events have you attended—or heard of?


Interested in what kind of people make this kind of donation? Here’s their story.



  1. I love what you have done at Veteran’s Park, and I particularly love the quote you selected. We are right in the middle of building a stone wall, and as various steps come up, we have tried to build it the right way–the way that will last a long time. I just printed out a copy of this quote and later this week, I’m going to put it in a little “time capsule” that is enclosed in the wall. Of course I’ll have the man who is doing most of the labor sign it, so that one day someone might find it and know that we were thinking of the future!

  2. What a beautiful story and way to honor the past in the present. Mossy Creek Station reminds me a little of our downtown Madison area. So rich with history yet repositioned to grow for the future.

  3. Just stumbled upon your blog. Nice post about your new park. Congrats.

    Event idea: tiny Onancock Virginia (population 1,500, founded in 1680) has a “patriotic ice cream social” the evening of July 3 on the town square. The local Business & Civic Association buys ice cream and gives it away. The community band plays patriotic music. It’s all free but donations are welcome and the donations are usually about equal to the cost of the ice cream. People bring lawn chairs and stay a while. The event is very simple but everyone likes it. It’s very nice to hangout with your neighbors and eat some ice cream on a summer evening.

    The nearby town of Accomac (even tinier than Onancock) has a non-motorized parade on July 4. People decorate bikes and wagons and stuff and join in the parade, which is open to all. At the end of the parade there is music, someone reads the Declaration of Independence, and popsicles are given to kids.

    • Greg, welcome to My Place to Yours! I’m happy you stumbled upon my blog. Thank you for your comment and ideas. I especially love the ice cream social idea. I can see us doing that sometime were I live…

      Just since dedicating the park in late April, we’ve managed to plan two major summertime events:
      Movies on Main — sponsored by the Modern Woodmen of America: May through August – 4 free outdoor family movies; about 125 at the first one and many of us out of town!

      Rockin’ the Creek Summer Concert Series — sponsored by Mossy Creek Foundation: 5 free concerts (2 on the 4th of July on either side of the parade); the first was last night with about 135 people in attendance.

      Definitely exciting to see things beginning to happen. Thanks for your kind words and encouragement!

  4. I like the event pavilion. It reminds me of a similar structure in Columbus, Ohio. Only that one is encased in glass for year-round use. The glass slides open for use in the summer. Enterprise, Oregon has summer concerts on the courthouse lawn. I know of other small towns that do this along with an ice cream/pie social. Nice job on this project. The Browns are a lovely couple. xo

  5. What a wonderful gift the Browns gave! It will truly make the downtown a happy gathering space. Have a wonderful holiday my friend.