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Flagg Grove School

Restoration of the Historic
Flagg Grove School

Childhood School of Tina Turner


Timeline:
April 2012 | June 2012 | August 2012 | September 2012 | January 2013
April 2013 | August 2013 | January 2014


Tina Turner contributes to Flagg Grove School project

BROWNSVILLE TN (JANUARY 31, 2014):   With restoration underway, the Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville, Tenn., is excited to announce Tina Turner’s contributions to the Flagg Grove School project.

Turner has been involved with the project since her childhood school was moved in 2012, including a sizable donation towards the restoration by the Queen of Rock herself. This donation is in addition to the recent campaign to match a $75,000 donation by local attorney Pat Mann Jr. and his wife, Ann.
In a recent statement by Turner, she expressed thanks to the community for their participation and involvement in the restoration.

“I would like to personally thank Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne and Sonia Outlaw-Clark and her team at the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center for their endless support,” says Turner “and of course Joe and Pam Stephens, without their donation of the school, this would not have been possible. I also want to recognize all the donations, both public and private, from fans, friends, and associates on this project which is very close to my heart.”

Turner is fully supportive of the project and happy to be able to give back to her community. In addition to a generous monetary donation towards the restoration of the school, she will be providing all the memorabilia, display cases, gold record awards and stage costumes from her long career. Concert videos will also be showing in the school. All of which will become part of the school’s interpretive exhibit.

Flagg Grove Challenge Celebration

(JANUARY 2, 2014) A big THANK YOU to Ann and Pat Mann for their generous donation to the Flagg Grove School restoration. After 6 months of fundraising and a challenge by Mr. Pat to raise $75,000 .... we did it! The Manns generously matched the $75,000. Restoration work is set to begin January 10. Among those attending the check presentation were former students of Flagg Grove School and the family of Benjamin Flagg, including 2 grandsons and 2 great-great grandsons.

Brownsville Radio article about the check signing and challenge
More pictures of the event on Facebook

 

Tina Turner Heritage Days
Tina Turner Heritage Days

Haywood County will celebrate Tina Turner and the heritage of the Flagg Grove School during the 1st Annual Tina Turner Heritage Days on September 27-28, 2013. Go to www.TinaTurnerHeritageDays.com for more details about the event. All proceeds from the event will go towards the restoration of Flagg Grove School.

TinaTurner-GermanVogue

Tina graces the cover of German Vogue magazine

Haywood County's most famous native, Anna Mae Bullock, known worldwide as Tina Turner, is the oldest woman to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine.  Turner, who turned 73 in November, is featured on the cover of the April 2013 issue of German Vogue.

According to the magazine's interview, Turner talks about her hometown of Nutbush and the Flagg Grove School project.

"We are so excited that Ms. Turner mentions her involvement with the Flagg Grove School project," said West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark. "She speaks of the beauty of the farmland around Nutbush and remembers walking to Flagg Grove School with her sister and classmates."

The school's restoration project began in June 2012 when the school was donated and moved to the Delta Heritage Center. According to Clark, the project could take up to three years to complete.

Once completed, the school will highlight African-American early education and the legacy of students who attended there.  The school was built in 1889 on land donated by Benjamin Flagg, Turner's great-uncle, making Flagg Grove school not only the school she attended but a part of her family's legacy.  Turner's involvement with the project will include memorabilia and displays once the building has been restored.

As the project moves forward, it will be dependent on public fundraising efforts. Since the Vogue article appeared, fans have begun making donations through a link on the Center's website.

(Read a translated version of the article here.)

Tina Turner's Assistant Visits Brownsville

Rhonda Graam in front of Flagg Grove School.

The West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center was honored to welcome a special guest during the week of January 14, 2013. Rhonda Graam, of Los Angeles, California, spent a week in Brownsville exploring the Center and learning more about the Flagg Grove School restoration project.

Graam, who is Tina Turner’s assistant and has been with her organization since the mid 1960s, met with local officials and others involved in the school restoration. She took the opportunity to tour Nutbush and the surrounding area where Turner lived during her childhood.  Gramm also met with the Joe Stephens family who donated the school, visited the original site of the school and heard about the next phases of the project.

Her week in Brownsville also included meeting former classmates of Turner and hearing about their school days together at Flagg Grove and visiting cemetery sites of Turner's ancestors.

In an email to Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark after the visit, Graam says Turner is “thrilled with all the information and my explorations.”

Flagg Grove School Fan Ribbon Cutting September 28, 2012

Tina Turner fans gathered on Friday, September 28, 2012, for a Fan's Ribbon Cutting of the Flagg Grove School. Special guest included Elle Denneman, president of the International Tina Turner Fan Club.

Flagg Grove School
Fan's Ribbon Cutting

Fans from far and near gathered Friday, September 28, 2012 to pay homage to the Queen of Rock 'n Roll Tina Turner and to celebrate the restoration of her former elementary school, Flagg Grove.

The evening began with a reception before the Fan's Ribbon Cutting and continued on Saturday with a tour of Nutbush sites, including a visit to the original site of the school, and ended Saturday evening with a tribute show at Carver High School gym.

Pam and Joe Stephens donated the school that was purchased by Joe's father in the mid-60s.

The Stephens family at the ribbon cutting of Flagg Grove School.

Joe Stephens, Starr Fisher, Elle Denneman and Pam Stephens

Fans enjoyed a reception at the Delta Heritage Center prior to the Ribbon Cutting.

West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark welcomes guests to the Ribbon Cutting.

Brownsville Alderman John Simmons, Starr Fisher and Brownsville Mayor Jo Matherne.

Michael Anthamatten brought his group of Spotlight Performers to Brownsville to help celebrate the occasion. This was the beginning of a multicultural exchange between Brownsville and Muskogee.

We were so honored to welcome Elle Denneman, the president of the International Tina Turner Fan Club, to our event. Elle traveled from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to cut the ribbon and speak to the crowd about how the fan club was formed and how she became a Tina fan.

A large crowd gathered for the ribbon cutting, including fans Oklahoma, Georgia, Texas, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Minnesota and more.

 

Replacing the Clapboard

Restoration work that began in August continued through September as workers replaced the missing clapboard on the outside of the building and re-installed the stoop above the door. All of this work was done in anticipation of the Fan's Ribbon Cutting to take place on September 28.

Replacing of the windows and doors still remain to be done on the outside, as well as building a porch/ramp and painting.

Clapboards are replaced

With the stoop re-installed, the school is beginning to look like it did originally.

Rebuilding the damaged stoop and replacing missing clapboard with that salvaged from the Booker Knob School in Denmark, TN.

Lifting the stoop

City workers help raise the stoop in place as Dana and his crew secure it in place.

Stoop is in place

Work continues on the front of the building.

Working on the front

Tin is on the stoop roof and workers continue to replace mising clapboard.

Finished front

Flagg Grove School after all the clapboard has been replaced.


Roof repairs begin

Restoration work began Wednesday, August 22, when carpenters began repairing the roof of Flagg Grove School. Two days to replace necessary tin, screw down all the roof and cover with a "cool coat" to help seal and protect. The finished results are awesome, almost looks like new. A special thanks to Rusty's TV & Movie Car Museum in Jackson for helping to make this happen.

Roof work begins
Carpenters begin to replace necessary sheets of tin and screw down the entire roof.
Roof work - adding the "cool coat"
After repairs, a "cool coat" is applied to help seal and preserve the tin.
Roof is finished
The roof is finished and looks almost like new.

Salvaging materials

Due to the generosity of Harbert Alexander and the Big Black Creek Historical Society, we are able to salvage clapboard from the Booker Knob School in Denmark, Tenn. The Booker Knob School was built circa 1850, and the materials are the same as those originally used to build Flagg Grove School. Because Booker Knob has deteriorated to the point it cannot be saved, we have been allowed to remove clapboard and other items that can be used in the restoration of Flagg Grove. It will take several days for the removal of these items and then we can prepare to begin replacing the missing and rotten boards on Flagg Grove School.

booker nob 3
booker knob
More about the Booker Knob School. Clapboard is carefully removed for reuse.
booker nob 2 Dana and his crew remove nails to prepare for the board being reapplied to the Flagg Grove School.

arrival

Flagg Grove School moves to Delta Heritage Center

BROWNSVILLE, TN (June 2, 2012) It's been an exciting two weeks here at the Center. First with the 2nd Annual Exit 56 Blues Fest and now we've moved the Flagg Grove School.

The one-room school was previously located in Nutbush, yes... the real Nutbush that Tina Turner sings about. As a matter of fact, she attended Flagg Grove School. To add to the history of the school, her great uncle, Benjamin Flagg, sold the land to the school's trustees for $25 an acre. The going price at that time (1889) was $75 an acre. The school closed in 1968 and had been used as a barn since that time.

It's a journey that began several months ago and yesterday the school finally made it to the Center and now sits beside the home of Bluesman "Sleepy" John Estes. While the size of the school kind of dwarfs Sleepy John's, we are very proud of this addition to the collection and look forward to highlighting early education in Haywood County and, of course, the fantastic singing career of Tina Turner.


The Journey

inside the school
old desk still remain
Inside the School A few desk and benches were still in the school. Notice the stage in the background. You just know little Anna Mae Bullock sang on that stage at some time during her school days there.
bracing for the move getting ready to move
Bracing the building for the move.
Positioning the skids.
ready to start the journey
on Hwy. 19
Ready to go! Pulling out from the field on Elm Tree Road.
Traveling down Highway 19, aka Tina Turner Highway
navigating the power lines
almost to its new home
Navigating the power lines on Anderson ... almost there. Just a little ways more....
taking its place beside sleepy john
Welcome! It's here ... sitting beside the Sleepy John Estes home on the grounds of the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center.

Brownsville Aldermen vote to preserve historic Flagg Grove School

 flagg grove school

The former Flagg Grove School, located in the Nutbush community of Haywood County, Tenn., had been used as a barn for the last 40 years. Owner Joe Stephens stands in front of the building that will soon be moved to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center in Brownsville. Plans for the school includes interpretive exhibits about African-American education as well as a Tina Turner exhibit. Turner attended the school in the 1940s.

BROWNSVILLE TN (APRIL10, 2012):    Flagg Grove School, in the Nutbush community,  is one of only a few remaining African-American schoolhouses in Haywood County. The Brownsville Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted Tuesday evening to help preserve the school where music legend Tina Turner once attended grade school, by funding its move to the West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center. Once at the Center, the school will be restored and become a part of the Center's permanent exhibits.

The one room school has significant historical value for the community and can be tied directly to Turner's ancestry. The land the school is built on was bought from Benjamin Flagg in 1889. Flagg was a former slave who came from North Carolina after the Civil War. He was also the brother of George Flagg, Turner's great-grandfather. The school closed in the 1960s and has since been used as a barn.

"Ideally, we would love to preserve Flagg Grove School on its original acre of ground," explains Delta Heritage Center Director Sonia Outlaw-Clark, "but since this is not possible, it just makes sense to move it where it can be restored and seen by the most people."

The building, along with other artifacts found in the school, is being donated to the Center by local restaurateurs Pam and Joe Stephens. "Pam and I wanted to save the building," says Stephens. "It's an important piece of Haywood County history." The building has been owned by the Stephens family since the late 60s.

Moving the school to the Center ties directly to the mission of the Center which is to promote the heritage of the region and increase tourism in rural West Tennessee. "The school will become an integral part in telling our story," says Clark, "especially where education and music are concerned in Haywood County."

Regarding the efforts to save the school and open it to the public, Tina Turner commented: " I'm pleased to know that children from around the world, who stop at the Visitor's Center in Brownsville, will be able to visualize what it was like growing up during the era of my childhood."

While the City will fund the initial move, the preservation work will continue through fundraising --efforts of the Friends of the Delta Heritage Center; a non-profit group who supports the work of the Center. Anyone wishing to help with these efforts can contact the Center at 731-779-9000, or donations (check or money order) can be made payable to the Friends of the Center, P. O. Box 1358, Brownsville, TN 38012.

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