Pickett Chapel to be site of Heritage Peace Garden celebration

It is a building steeped in the history of Wilson County, the nation and in the local African American community.
May 1, 2013
 Photo: Submitted to The Democrat

Children sit at the base of the cross during last year's Heritage Peace Garden Celebration.

It is a building steeped in the history of Wilson County, the nation and in the local African American community.

Pickett Chapel will once again be recognized May 18 when the Roy Bailey History Center and Museum sponsors the second Heritage Peace Garden Celebration.  

JoAnn Brown, chairman of the museum's advisory board, said the restoration of the chapel is continuing as money permits. She said there is no time to lose when it comes to preserving this irreplaceable part of Wilson County's history.

Pickett Chapel is on the National Register of Historic Places and the only African-American Heritage Site on the new Promised Land: Pilgrimage to President Trail. Efforts to restore the chapel to its former glory are ongoing and, once it is restored, the chapel will serve as the home of the museum and as a cultural center for the entire community.  

"The new roof went on yesterday," Brown said Tuesday. "The next project will be to fix a sagging wall. We had hoped to work on windows and doors, but the wall had to be taken care of first."

The opening ceremony for the May 18 celebration will be at 10 a.m. and the day will include a workday of planting and landscaping a portion of the grounds of Pickett Chapel. This work will be done under the guidance of Justin Stefanski, University of Tennessee Extension Agent for Wilson County, and the Wilson County Master Gardeners and volunteers will be participating.

The day will also include archaeology students from Middle Tennessee State University, under the direction of archaeologist Phillip Hodge. The group will explore the archaeological potential of Pickett Chapel.  

"The goal of their work is to identify any archaeological remains present and collect information to guide future excavations at the Chapel," Brown said. "Phillip is a life-long resident of Wilson County and is very interested in Pickett Chapel's historical significance."  

The Peace Garden includes a simple wooden cross, which was erected on the grounds last year.

"The cross will have lighting added so that it can serve as a symbol of the heritage of the congregations who have worshiped at Pickett Chapel," Brown said.

The day will offer something for everyone. There will be music and food samples from various vendors.

"There will be around 10 vendors," Brown said. "We didn't want to clutter up the place."

The celebration will be from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. No admission will be charged, but donations will be accepted with the proceeds to benefit Pickett Chapel restoration fund and the Roy Bailey Museum.

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