top of page
hearnAcademy.jpg

More History

Historical Society History

Winnie Williams Morrow and Becky Davis ran a gift store inside the Hearn Academy building which was falling into disrepair. Customers were heard on many occasions to say, “What a beautiful historic building”. After hearing that comment over and over again, Winnie suggested to John that they get some people together to save the building. He then suggested the Cave Spring Historical Society and immediately put together that first meeting. 

John knew Diane Dawson, sister of the famous Alan Jackson, American Singer Songwriter,  had moved into Cave Spring, and, with her husband, Jim, was restoring the old Dickerson house on Alabama Street. He also knew nearly the whole town because of his family owning and operating the Cave Spring Hardware Store. Diane had already talked to John about the treasures Cave Spring had with all the historic structures still intact at that time in Cave Spring. She agreed to come talk to the people of Cave Spring at this initial August meeting. Not being from Cave Spring, her first comment at the podium was “Well, I don’t know what I’m doing up here”, but she proceeded to tell the assembly about her belief that the building behind them could and should be saved. Winnie echoed what Diane had said before adding the stories of all the people who had come in the Gift Shop, saying good things about that building. Following Winnie,  Jack Brewer took the podium, and said, “Well, everybody says they don’t know what they’re doing up here, but I know what I’m up here for, and that’s to save this building!” He received a great round of applause. Diane was elected president of the brand new organization.She came across well, and seemed to have a lot of knowledge about how to go about restoring buildings. 

After our first several meetings and getting organized, Winnie was asked to chair the Board of Directors. The first directors were to oversee the business of the Society, and the membership made the decisions. As with all new organizations, there was a lot of support in the beginning, but a small core held on strong and managed to keep the ball rolling. This group, together with the support of the Cave Spring community, quickly raised enough money to put a roof on the Hearn Building. After the roof was replaced, work done by the Brewer and Summerlin Construction Company of Cave Spring, Diane, standing on the front steps of the building, pointed out that the other Hearn School building, the old dorm, was really older than the classroom building, and should be restored, too. The Historical Society group planned a  visit to Marie and Gordon (Draves?), who were the current residents of the building. There was a huge accumulation of water inside and plastic covering the roof was sagging almost to the floor with the weight of the water. The sky could even be seen in one place from the front hall. Diane’s enthusiasm along with her creative vision was contagious and the CSHS made a choice to restore the old Hearn Dorm building next.

There were people in Cave Spring who thought the CSHS was crazy for trying to take on such a big project and restore all these old buildings but support poured in anyway. Diane, in the meantime, had started to work for the City. She was instrumental in having Cave Spring become a Mainstreet Community. Under Diane’s leadership, labor was provided by First Offenders, a youth program for kids who have been in trouble to do community service activities. This was a tremendous benefit to both the CSHS and First Offenders, offering the youth involved a chance to feel a sense of pride in their work. 

The original Hearn Dorm had a bell tower and Jim Dawson drew out the new design based on old photos of the building. The bell tower was constructed to look very much like the original. This final touch completed the restoration of the Hearn Dorm, now known as the Hearn Inn. 

 

The CSHS decided the restored dorm would become an inn so it could generate income to provide the finances to maintain the structure. The Hearn Inn was decorated with as many period pieces as could be found to fill the space and create the ambiance of days gone by. 

 

Within six weeks of the dorm structure being finished, every room was sponsored and furnished. Each room was sponsored by different individuals and entities who provided money to purchase the antiques and other era specific decor. The coverlets for the beds were made by a local weaver who was a friend of Diane’s. Plaques have been placed on each door to recognize each of these sponsors.

Diane did a good job at commemorating all the contributors who helped make this huge renovation project possible. There were fundraisers, one of which was a play which performed to a sold out crowd in the auditorium of the Georgia School for the deaf. The play was “The War Comes to Prior Station” directed by Don Rudesil (?) a member of Rome Little Theatre in Rome. 

 

During the late ‘70’s, Cave Spring held an annual Festival known as Cave Spring Country Festival. The money raised at this festival was given to the CSHS to help support and maintain the buildings. This is the festival now known as the Cave Spring Arts Festival which currently takes place in June of each year and is still a huge fundraiser for the Cave Spring Historical Society.

 

Projects of restoration have continued and now the Cave Spring Historical Society manages The Hearn Academy, The Hearn Inn and The Ole Baptist Church in Rolater Park, The Caboose and the Old Cabin on Broad Street just off the downtown square, and the former Presbyterian Church on Alabama Hwy on the west side of town.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
bottom of page