Sunday, November 27, 2011

Templeton Library At Sewanee

Over the years (and every single time we have ever driven through Cowan and continued on the increasingly winding and climbing Hwy 41A leading up to the University of the South and Sewanee) we have seen a large light colored building sitting alone and high up in the hills completely surrounded by trees.
We have always wondered what that building was and although we never actively sought it out were always surprised that we never came across it in our travels.
Yesterday, after leaving St Marys we drove slowly further down the side road LC had turned onto on the spur of the moment, curious to see what else we could find.
We thought that we might come across an overlook.
We did not have to drive very far because we soon dead-ended.
And at the end of that road we found out exactly what the building we had seen so often actually was.
This place was at the end of the road and we knew immediately that we had accidentally found our answer.
The huge and beautiful building is the Templeton Library.
As we drove into the complex of this facility LC and I just looked at each other in amazement.
Who knew that a place like this actually existed, sitting alone on the side of a mountain in the Cumberland Plateau?
Neither of us had ever heard of the Templeton Library before, so we explored this area completely oblivious to the name or the history or the intention of this place.
But as we slowly and quietly explored one more interesting place in what was turning out to be a hugely fun day on the mountain none of that really mattered.
We took the day as it came, and took each of our wonderful finds as they came.
Research and understanding could wait for an Internet search later in the day.
When we drove into the area I first saw the building and then the pond and then the lifesized statue of Templeton.
When I first saw the statue I thought that there was a live person standing in the garden.
Some information on John Templeton:
We pulled into the parking lot to the side of the building and although there were two other vehicles in the lot we never did see anyone else during the time that we were there...........
My Mountain Boy and James disappeared down a walkway on the right side of the building as I headed towards the statue.
I wanted to take pictures of the statue, the library and the pond...........
After feeding my picture-taking-beast I headed towards the back of the building, realizing as I got closer that the building overlooked the valley below much as St Marys did...............
LC and I (and Jamie too) spent a lot of time in this place.
Looking out over the world far below us.
Looking at the beautiful details of the beautiful building and quietly laughing and joking about buying the
place when we won the lottery..........
As we continued wandering slowly around first the back of the building and then along the left side of the building we made the decision to head into the library.
We wanted to see what such a beautiful building looked like on the inside.
LC headed back to the truck to load up Jamie, and while he did that I walked to the front of the library.
I eagerly pulled on both of the front doors but both were locked and I wondered briefly where the owners of the two vehicles in the parking lot were.
There was no sign indicating hours or days of operation and I walked back towards the truck shaking my head to LC as I approached.
We found out later of course that even though the library was only built a few years ago it is now actually a series of apartments.
We loaded back into the truck pleased and excited about the things we had seen so far in our journey on a beautiful late Fall day.
And then we drove back to Hwy 56 and continued further down the highway eager to explore a little more yet before heading home.
A picture taken in the Fall:


  1. Your blog post has just saved my day! My husband and I were on our way to Chattanooga saturday and decided to take the back road to I-24, through Sewanee and Monteagle. From the bottom of the mountain this building looks like an evil, scientist laboratory, all that is missing is the lightening bolts! :)

    I definitly want to go back now to do some exploring and take some photos. Love your blog!

  2. Wanda, when I read your mad scientist analogy I had to laugh because that describes the place perfectly when you're looking at it from down below. :-)

    I had no idea it was such a beautiful place and I am glad that we found it. Thanks for reading!

  3. There was a terrible incident there in 2001 when a Sewanee freshman got drunk with some friends there and decided to slide down what he thought was a laundry chute. It turned out to be a trash chute instead, ending in a trash compactor in the basement, where the student's fall down the chute activated the trash compactor, crushing him to death. I'm told that many of the volunteer rescue and EMT folks who responded to the situation, many of them university students, suffered PTSD for years afterward as the scene was so very gruesome. A horrifying story.

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