If you have ever wanted to learn more about the Highlander Folk School in the Summerfield community of Grundy County, now is your chance to learn. University of the South students enrolled in courses offered through the Collaborative for Southern Appalachian Studies will offer free historical tours of the Highlander Folk School site on Saturdays throughout April. Tours will be offered at 1 and 3 p.m. April 9, 16, 23, and 30, weather permitting. Tours last approximately one hour and leave from the Highlander Folk School Library on Old Highlander Lane in Monteagle, Tennessee. If you are interested in attending a tour, please plan to arrive 10 minutes before it is scheduled to begin.

Student tour guides will share the history of the site and the vision and ethos of its founders and staff. They will introduce the historic programs and work of the school and relay its contributions to U.S. labor, civil rights, and social justice movements. They will highlight key figures who participated in Highlander’s programs, and will explain how and why controversies led to the forced closure of the folk school. The continued work and legacies of Highlander and efforts to preserve the site in Summerfield will be included in the tour.

Margo Shea, a visiting fellow with the Collaborative, has worked with Sewanee students in two courses, Introduction to Public History and Place-Based Research Methods, to conduct research and find creative ways to interpret the site in partnership with the Tennessee Preservation Trust. (Both courses are part of the university’s community-engaged learning program.) In 2013, the Tennessee Preservation Trust purchased the buildings and land associated with the school, which closed in 1961 and has since relocated to New Market, Tennessee.

Sewanee students pause outside the Highlander Folk School site's library in the midst of rehearsals for the historical tours they will offer throughout April. From left to right: Sarah Minnear, Noel Estopinal, Margaret Stapleton, Lexi Rouse, Tori Hinshaw, Grey Jones, Chris Murphree, Will McDowell, and John Morphis.

Sewanee students pause outside the Highlander Folk School site’s library in the midst of rehearsals for the historical tours they will offer throughout April. From left to right: Sarah Minnear, Noel Estopinal, Margaret Stapleton, Lexi Rouse, Tori Hinshaw, Grey Jones, Chris Murphree, Will McDowell, and John Morphis.

For more information, please contact Margo Shea at 931.598.1879 or mmshea@sewanee.edu.