The Sewanee Civic League

Women organized Sewanee’s first community civic club, called the Sewanee Civic League in 1908 in order to improve municipal conditions and equipment. Through various subgroups they accomplished many projects, including underwriting the blueprints for the stone gates on the highway, circulating literature on tuberculosis, repairing the stone wall around the cemetery, and raising money to extend the term of the public school. They put in Shoup Park in front of the Sewanee Inn (now Elliott Hall), cleaned up the principal views near Sewanee, and contributed money for the improvement of the University’s water supply. The organization raised funds with a tearoom, a women’s exchange, catering, rummage sales, book sales, a strawberry festival, recitals and other endeavors. When the organization voted to disband in 1947, they gave their fund balance of $633.17 to the University’s Five Million Dollar Campaign for the endowment of the nurses’ home. The University Gates Fund went to the newly organized Woman’s Club.

Sewanee Civic Association

The men began their civic connections with the Sewanee Town Meeting group in December 1920. It was formed to provide law and order in Sewanee: “We have one of the worst towns…in regard to the violation of the law. We are here to organize and distribute money for the good of Sewanee…stop bootlegging and get a public school we are not ashamed of.” This organization was broadened into the Sewanee Civitan Club. This was nationally affiliated until 1942, when it reformed as the local Sewanee Civic Association. Its primary purpose was to raise money that the town could not raise in taxes because it was unincorporated, in order to make municipal improvements. In 1926 the Civitan Club raised funds to build and maintain a new stone public school, and later to put an addition onto it. The objectives in 1938 included the completion of Alto Road and of a state highway to the Marion County line, securing the sheriff’s salary, obtaining pledges for a black community center, and adding a four-year high school for Sewanee. Each year this club organizes the Sewanee Community Chest, which now raises thousands of dollars for local organizations.

From Sewanee Sesquicentennial History: The Making of the University of the South