A Hero’s Legacy

Above is a concept of the Sgt. York Center for Peace and Valor, which will be housed in the original York Institute building following an extensive restoration. The Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation secured the deed to the building from the State of Tennessee in 2015, and has since been stabilizing the structure in preparation for future renovations, which they believe are to happen in the near future.

Original York Institute Building to be Transformed into Sgt. York Center for Peace and Valor

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

We all know the story. Sgt. Alvin C. York, Pall Mall native turned Medal of Honor winning hero of the Argonne returned home from World War One with a clear purpose: to use his notoriety to better his community. In this pursuit he built the Alvin C. York Agricultural Institute in Jamestown, an institution to provide higher learning opportunities to the children of Fentress County so that they might attain a level of success that had previously been largely unavailable to them. In addition to raising the money to build the school, York worked on the construction himself. After it was built, he operated it himself (under the supervision of the State Department of Education) paying the teachers, the bus drivers, and supplying the buses on his own dime.

In 1937 York turned the school over to the State of Tennessee entirely. The school is still in operation today, but the last course held in the original building were in 1980, and the structure has been in total disuse for the last three decades. In that time, virtually nothing was done to maintain the building, and it fell into extreme disrepair. This state of neglect reached its apex in 2008, and the building was considered for demolition. Fortunately, the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation was able to bolster a strong enough lobby across Tennessee, as well as present a tenable stabilization plan to persuade the state to place the building under their care, and stabilization work began.

In the years that followed, 2.6 million dollars were spent to mothball and stabilize the structure, which had brought it into its present state of awaiting further improvements.

Thanks to information recently released by the Sgt. York Patriotic Foundation, we now have a better idea of what those future improvements might look like. In a recent presentation, SYPF Executive Director Deborah York unveiled new concept plans for what will be called the Sgt. York Center for Peace and Valor.

Support your local paper by reading the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Courier.