PHOTO: Spring Hill High School teacher of 17 years, Gwynne Evans, stands with his students on Tuesday at Spring Hill High School / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
Spring Hill High School teacher Gwynne Evans is the former Vice Mayor of Spring Hill, has served on the Spring Hill Planning Commission, and is currently serving on the board of directors for Rippavilla Plantation as well as the Muary County Commission, representing the 11th District.
Now, Evans has another goal in mind: creating the first history museum in Middle Tennessee, and the second in the nation, to be built completely by high school students.
“It’s the ultimate work-based learning project,” Evans said. “There’s not a complete Maury County museum – this is going to encompass all of Maury County.”
Evans got the idea after visiting the Museum of Scott County in East Tennessee, which is the first and only museum to be 100 percent funded, designed and built by high school students in the United States.
“They sent their students to log home building school,” Evans said about Scott High School in Scott County. “They taught them to both assemble new structures, and disassemble old structures, move them and reassemble them.”
Evans’ project would be called the Maury County Museum & STEAAM Educational Center, and would be located right next to Spring Hill High School, just off of Highway 31.
The project would feature the main museum complex filled with numerous historical items, a STEAAM facility, and a boardwalk that would house shops and stores, tied together in a 19th century western aesthetic. The estimated cost of these three components is $650,000, $300,000 and $280,000, respectively.
STEAAM stands for science, technology, art, agriculture and math, and the STEAAM facility would house educational classes, one of which being a computer education course. Evans is also planning for the Tennessee College of Applied Technology to join the project, conducting construction and other technical classes at the facility.
The boardwalk is where the museum hopes to make continued revenue, and is planned to feature stores selling Spring Hill High School Raiders products, milk and honey cultivated by the students, and even a woodturner and a blacksmith.
The project also has plans to reserve two and a half acres of land for chickens, selling eggs at the boardwalk, as well as including a petting zoo with both small and large animals.
Lastly, the museum complex itself is planned to feature a large mix of historical items, representing both the history of Maury County and Spring Hill High School… with a twist.
“We’re wanting to promote it as a haunted museum,” Evans said. “I want you to be able to walk in and things move, maybe a little trickery. I think it’d be fun.”
While the haunted twist may seem out of left field for a historical museum, the idea came from a large donor of historical items, who wishes to remain anonymous. The individual said the ghost of their mother-in-law has a deep-rooted connection with the donated items, and that the gift would be a packaged deal.
“The [person] said they had all this stuff, [and] they were wondering what to do with it,” Evans said. “[They said] we could have it, with the stipulation that the ghost goes with it. So, we are going to promote a haunted museum.”
Evans said the donation was large enough to already fill the whole museum, and is an entire attic and garage packed with civil war muskets, photos, scrapbooks, and other historical memorabilia.
“It’s going to be a monumental task, because you’re going to have to go through each and every page, every paper, every box,” Evans said. “Evidently, the [person] collected Maury County history for 40, 50 years.”
Evans is planning on having the first building of the museum completed by fall of 2020, with the rest of the project completed shortly thereafter.
Since the project is intended to be funded entirely through donations and grants, Evans, along with Spring Hill High School students, are currently seeking any assistance available, reaching out to the community for support. Donations of historical items, funding, and land are all welcome, and can be facilitated by calling Evans at (931) 698-5804.