KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Four historic state landmarks are one step closer to joining the National Register of Historic Places. while protections were removed from three others following a Jan. 26 meeting of the State Review Board.

Applications for two locations in Knox County were approved. Howell Nurseries, now known as the Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum, would see federal protection, while Emory Place Historic District could expand their footprint to include more structures.

Nominations for Benevolent Cemetery in Rutherford County and Georgetown Road (Trail of Tears Segment) in Meigs County were also approved to take the next, and final, step in the process.

The National Register of Historic Places is a list of cultural resources that are considered worthy of preservation due to being important to history, architecture or archeology. It is authorized under the National Historic Places Preservation Act of 1966. In Tennessee, the staff of the Tennessee Historical Commission administers the program in coordination with the National Park Service.

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To join the National Registry, property owners submit an application to THC National Register staff. If that is approved, nominees submit a National Register form to be reviewed and voted on by the Tennessee State Review Board. Approved nominations are sent to the National Park Service in Washington where they’ll be listed, rejected or returned.

Nominations approved for submission to the National Park Service

Howell Nurseries on Wimpole Avenue in Knoxville is also known as the Knoxville Botanical Garden & Arboretum. The KBGA is a nonprofit created to save the property from development. The nominated property is 28 acres of open fields, shady lanes and trees, shrubs and flowering plants formerly known as Howell Nurseries, and 16 adjacent acres which made up the Joe Howell Landscape and Nursery. It provides the public with access to walking trails, numerous gardens, education, and special event rentals, all to preserve the beauty and nature that began with Howell Nurseries more than a century ago. The property is believed to have had more than 2,000 plant varieties from around the world on the premises and boasts stone terraces. The Dogwood Trail is one of several contributing site features listed in the application. Preservation protection is sought as agriculture, commerce, architecture and landscape architecture areas of significance.

The Benevolent Cemetery in Rutherford County is an African American cemetery established in 1897, according to the application. It covers 8 acres and includes at least 1,500 burials that occurred between 1897 to 2002, the majority of which lack headstones. Of the interments documented, about 224 gravestones are visible and legible, the applicant states. Designation is being sought as an ethnic heritage and social history area of significance.

The application for Emory Place Historic District in Knoxville would expand the footprint of an area currently on the register to add an area with 22 buildings, an area the applicant says should have been included the original 1994 nomination. The new application also corrects errors related to how resources were inventoried and counted. For example, the original nomination did not correctly count rowhouses and considered a building as one structure when it should have been two. Included in the nomination are the World War I monument on East Fifth Avenue, St John’s Lutheran Church Addition built in 1968 and the free-standing Knoxville High School Heating Plant on the Knoxville High School campus. Nomination is sought for commerce, transportation, architecture and community planning and development as areas of significance.

Georgetown Road (Trail of Tears Segment) is a .12-mile stretch along Tennessee State Route 60 in Meigs County that was used by some Cherokee en route to Indian Territory on the Northern Route of the Trail of Tears in 1838, according to nomination materials. Two letters written by detachment leaders in September 1838 document that the Georgetown Road was utilized by detachments en route to Blythe Ferry on the Trail of Tears. Now, the roadbed abandoned by vehicular traffic is occasionally used by the local Cherokee for memorial Trail of Tears walks. The property is being submitted for National Register listing as part of the “Historic and Archaeological Resources of the Cherokee Trail of Tears.” Nomination is sought as an ethnic heritage area of significance.

Removed from preservation protection

The Sevierville Masonic Lodge in Sevierville was voted off the list. The lodge was added to the list in 1980 but was removed after the historic structure was demolished in 2006 to create a parking lot for the former Sevier County Bank. Constructed in 1893, the first floor was once used as the Sevierville Public Library. The request for removal notes the lodge lost its characteristics for which it was listed.

The Hibbettage in Davidson County has also been nominated for removal from the list. The historic mansion in Nashville was built in the early 20th century in the Colonial Revival architectural style. It was torn down in June 2020 after a new owner purchased the property.

A third structure to be removed from preservation protection is the Newton Copeland Richards House on Peabody Avenue in Memphis. The Queen Anne and Eastlake style home was built as a private residence in 1889-90 for Newton Copeland Richards, president of the Memphis Cotton Exchange 1902-03. The home was destroyed by a fire that was believed to be arson in 2017.

Records for Tennessee locations on the National Register are available online through the National Archives Catalog. Those 981 locations include Beale Street Historic District, Graceland, the X-10 Reactor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Alvin York’s farm and more.