Maryville College has recently began its bicentennial events for the year of 2019. One of these events is the dedication of the historic Isaac Anderson cabin, which was recently moved and rebuilt at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and dedicated on Feb. 8.
The process began much earlier, as the cabin used to reside in east Knoxville and was condemned by the city due to its age and the fact that the building was considered unsafe by modern standards. It would have been sent to a dump to rot and fade away forever. Due to the efforts of some diligent Maryville College graduates, the cabin was saved.
Cole Piper, from the class of 1968, led the charge to prevent the cabin from being destroyed. He first contacted Bob Patterson of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center, who agreed to provide a new site for the cabin as long as Piper would handle the fundraising. It was no easy task, as the total cost of moving the cabin would be $150,000.
This is largely due to the processes involved in moving historical buildings such as the cabin. Each piece of the cabin must be disassembled and carefully numbered to know which pieces should be constructed in which order.
The materials making up the cabin were eventually moved to the Heritage Center, and after receiving donations of period-accurate wood to replace some rotted out pieces, was rebuilt and made safe for people to occupy.
The cabin itself has a rather squat floor plan, being tiny by the standards of modern homes, but is two stories tall to mitigate this fact. Isaac Anderson constructed this humble cabin when he was 22 years old, and the fact that it still stands today, albeit with some restoration, is a testament to Anderson’s skill as a craftsman and carpenter.
It would have been impossible to achieve all of this without the donations of several concerned citizens, and a large number of these came from the 2nd Presbyterian Church in Knoxville.
Clara Hardin, a graduate of the class of 1957 from Maryville College and longtime member of the church was instrumental in getting her fellow congregates to donate to save the cabin. It’s worth noting that Isaac Anderson helped found the church back in the 1800’s, which certainly also provided a reason for the congregants to donate as much as they did.
Dr. Tom Bogart, the current President of Maryville College also attended and spoke on the legacy of Anderson and the significance of having the cabin preserved. He hoped that future generations of students will see this humble building and feel inspired to do good on the largest possible scale, an often quoted maxim by Anderson.
Maryville College history professor Dr. Aaron Astor also spoke on the importance of historical sites such as the cabin being preserved, and thanked Piper profusely for his work.
Finally, Maryville College senior Lenny Lively, who is writing an Isaac Anderson-themed musical for the bicentennial celebration spoke of his feeling of personal connection to Anderson through his tireless research into his life, closing his remarks by speaking of Anderson’s lesser-known idea of “disinterested benevolence”, which is the idea of doing good with no interest in recognition or reward, but simply for the sake of doing good.
The Anderson cabin has now stood for well-over two hundred years, and thanks to the concerns and actions of people still changed by Anderson’s work it may well stand for two hundred more years.