Restoring Bolivar Icons
Two Bolivar historic sites are on the way to being brought back to their previous glory as work has begun on the Pillars and is about to begin on the the Little Courthouse Museum in Bolivar.
“The Little Courthouse (see photo right) was built almost 200 years ago in 1824 on our Court Square. It is one of only three such log courthouses in America still standing, and the only one with a jail,” said Ken Savage, a former Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) President.
While the work on the Little Courthouse is waiting on the release of grant money in August, the work on the Pillars is currently underway under the direction of Brad Grantham, who said his work is a labor of love for the city and he is not taking payment for it. Grantham sits on the Historical Commission Board and is the President of the APTA.
“We’ve begun looking at it, and there is a lot of rot and work to do,” said Grantham, who is a certified restoration professional authorized by the United States Department of the Interior and whose work included the Luez Theatre.
The Pillars (see photo right) was built in 1826, with the original furnishings coming to Bolivar via steamboat on the Hatchie River. The modest original home was purchased in 1837 by regional cotton magnate Major John Houston Bills and enlarged it to its present-day style and size.
The county has plans to negotiate a lease with the APTA after the Little Courthouse is repaired, but Hardeman County Mayor Jimmy Sain says it needs to be finalized after the restoration was completed.
“The APTA is a very worthy organization in the County to lease the Little Courthouse to, but the building under the care of the group became in critical disrepair. Grant funding was applied for, but not awarded. There was no need in discussing a new lease until funding could be acquired for the renovations. The county employed a person to oversee the building monthly during this time. That person is a member of the APTA. Funding has been acquired for the renovations, but will not be available until August 1, 2020. APTA President Brad Grantham is aware of the funding and will be a principal person to oversee the renovations,” said Sain.