Tennessee Preservation Trust

50 Years of Historic Preservation Help Preserve Cumberland Homestead Houses

Posted: 03/01/2016

CROSSVILLE, MARCH 1st, 2016—Two historic properties will be preserved forever thanks to the National Historic Preservation Act and the Tennessee Preservation Trust’s (TPT) preservation easement program.

TPT accepted the donation of two preservation easements this February from Delos Hughes for the Vaden House and the Guest House, two homes located in the Cumberland Homesteads historic district just south of Crossville, TN. The preservation easements will ensure that the special character of these historic properties will be conserved forever for future generations to enjoy.

Photo Courtesy of Delos Hughes

These unique homes represent the dedication and unending will of those worst affected by the Great Depression in the Cumberland Plateau.

As part of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, the Division of Subsistence Homesteads was created to help displaced factory and mill workers and unemployed laborers rebuild through resettlement communities. The Cumberland Homesteads was one of the first of these subsistence communities and only a little over 200 families—of thousands who applied—were accepted as part of the New Deal program.

These families who lived in the planned community also built it between 1934 and 1938. They began with barns where they slept as they built homes, and then eventually outbuildings and community buildings.

Cumberland Homestead Crossville Tennessee
Photo Courtesy of Delos Hughes

Of the original 250 homesteads approximately 200 remain, including the Vaden House and the Guest House, along with the Administrative Building and the school. The Administrative Building, now known as the Tower Building, is home to the Cumberland Homesteads Tower Association Museum and the school has over 800 K-8 students enrolled.

The Cumberland Homesteads has been a local historic district since 1984 and in 1988 was listed in the National Register of Historic Places made possible by the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. Since both the Vaden House and the Guest House are listed as contributing to the National Register Historic District they were both eligible for TPT’s preservation easement program.

The donation of these preservation easements comes just as TPT launches its statewide efforts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the NHPA, as part of the nationwide “Preservation50” campaign.

For five decades the NHPA has provided for historic preservation efforts all across the country and Tennessee. In addition to creating the National Register, the NHPA established the Historic Preservation Fund, which provides grant funding for historic preservation projects, and state historic preservation programs such as our own State Historic Preservation Office and the Tennessee Historical Commission.

Without the NHPA, programs like TPT’s preservation easement program would not be possible and the landscape of Tennessee’s cultural heritage might look very different today.

Both the Vaden House and the Guest House are important pieces of that cultural heritage that will continue to share their story for even more than five decades to come.