Leadership Marshall class makes special gift to Lewisburg

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

The Leadership Marshall Class of 2013-2014 graduated from the program on Friday, May 2, after nine months of classes and field trips all over the county, and to Nashville where they visited the state capitol and prison.

This year's group really enjoyed the program and was eager to get as much information and experience out of it as possible. Their last day was filled with laughter and tears as everyone reflected on memories and talked about what the future holds, while enjoying a lovely meal together. Prior to the graduation ceremony, the class met in front of their project, a historic marker explaining the relevance of the Historic 1st Avenue Building and why, until recently, it was known at the Ladies Rest Room. This project is near and dear to the hearts of those in the 2013-2014 class as well as their instructor, Lynda Potts, who had no idea this was chosen as their project.

The Historic 1st Avenue Building was constructed in 1924 as the Ladies Rest Room, which was a place for women and young children to rest, use the toilet, or even eat a packed lunch during a visit to town. The County Court had been renting a nearby building for the previous seven years and decided to establish a permanent facility on this property which they had purchased in 1905. One half of the lot had already been used for the Marshall County Jail.

A.C. Colley of Nashville was the architect while local contractor J.L. Sanders was the builder. The Rest Room committee was composed of County Court members W.P. McClure, Jim McCord, Noble C. Hill, and community leader Mrs. W. Allen Haynes, the wife of the county extension agent. Another County Court member, L.J. Nance, was employed as the superintendent to act in the best interest of the County Court. Five thousand dollars was appropriated for the building and furnishings.

The Ladies Rest Room was designed with a large sitting room, a two-stall restroom, and a matron's bedroom on the street level with an unfinished basement room which eventually became the matron's kitchen.

The matron's salary grew from $240 per year in 1924 to $4,500 per year in 2002 when the Rest Room closed to the public. Christine Evans, the last matron, lived on the premises and served the public for 29 years.

Ownership of the Rest Room was transferred to the City of Lewisburg in July 2007 because they had the finances and the manpower to renovate and maintain the building.

In 2012, after extensive remodeling, the building was renamed The Historic 1st Avenue Building and became the meeting place for the Lewisburg Industrial Development Board, as well as the Community Development Board and the Lewisburg Downtown Alliance.

The Ladies Rest Room was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.