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PHOTO GALLERY: Surgoinsville adds Lyons property to historic district

July 17th, 2014 7:00 am by Jeff Bobo

PHOTO GALLERY: Surgoinsville adds Lyons property to historic district

The old Lyons Store and nearby spring house which date back to around 1800 will be added to the Surgoinsville historical district. (photo by Jeff Bobo)

SURGOINSVILLE — Surgoinsville's historic zoning district will be growing to include the old Lyons property on Main Street, which contains buildings that date back to the early 1800s.

On Monday, the Surgoinsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the first reading of an ordinance adding the old Lyons Store at 2289 E. Main St., to the historic district.

Aside from the brick house which has served as a residence, store and post office, the property also contains an old blacksmith shop, a small barn, and a spring house.

Around 1806, William and Matilda Lyons established the Lyonsdale Farm on 1,640 acres where they raised tobacco and cattle.

In addition to farming, William Lyons partnered with his son David and established a store known as "William Lyons and Son" or the "Lyons Store" in the two-story brick building which still stands at that address.

It was a store until about 1900, and also served as the Lyons Post Office from 1837 to 1866.

At the time of the Civil War the property was owned by Capt. Clinton Lyons, and the conscription center for the Confederacy was also located at the store building.

Mayor Johnny Greer said the property needs to be preserved, not only because it was among the first settlements in the town, but also because of its significance to the Civil War.

"The 12th Tennessee Cavalry was formed there, and they were under the supervision of Capt. (Clinton) Lyons, the owner of the property," Greer said. "There's a good story that goes with that too. The Yankees tried to get him when he came home, and he hid in a feather bin in the basement."

Greer added, "That's a significant structure in the history of Surgoinsville, and I really don't know why it wasn't placed in the historic district originally, but we felt this property needs to be protected as well."

Aside from putting the Lyons Store property in the historic district, the BMA also included adjacent lots which have two log homes which also date back into the 1800s and are part of the original farm.

It's been about a decade since Surgoinsville first established a historic district. The first properties added were the Fudge Farm on East Main Street, which dates back to 1825; The Armstrong House at the intersection of Phipps Bend Road and Main Street which was built in the late 1700s; the New Providence Presbyterian Church which was founded in 1780; and the Maxwell Academy which was established in 1852 by the Board of Trustees of the New Providence Presbyterian Church and operated as a school until 1950.

Historic zoning regulates what can be done to the property, and specifically sets guidelines for renovations, remodeling and new construction. The historical zoning also regulates uses for adjacent properties to ensure that any new construction doesn't intrude on the historical integrity of the area to be protected.

"I think this is a good thing to do considering our 200th anniversary coming up (in 2015) — expanding our historic district," Greer said.

The BMA will consider the second and final reading of the ordinance at the Aug. 11 meeting.

In other business Monday, the BMA:

- Heard a report from Police Chief James Hammonds on the result of a University of Tennessee Transportation Assistance Program on Regency Drive which indicated about 140 vehicles per day traveling an average speed of 23.5 mph, and a maximum speed of 32.4. The study also showed one speed of 85 mph at 5 a.m. one morning, but they believe that was two vehicles crossing the meter in opposite directions at the same time.

Hammonds said the only recommendation to address speeding complaints was continued police presence.

- Heard a report from Greer that the alderman seat vacated by Alex Dykes who resigned due to moving out of town must be added to the ballot for the November municipal election. Dykes' term wasn't set to expire until 2016. On June 30, the BMA appointed Shane Southers to complete Dykes' term.

- Authorized Public Works Director Eddie McNally to begin drainage and ditch-line repair work on Zions Hill Road. McNally said the work will require a road closure, but he will try to do it all in one day, and before school starts, to minimize inconvenience for residents.

- Agreed to meet in special session on July 24 at 7 p.m. to consider final approval of the $953,000 40-year bond issue through the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development program for additional financing to cover the $4.5 million cost of the new sewer system.

- Voted to reappoint Fire Chief Dustin Housewright who has served as fire chief for seven years.

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