Cavitt Place Mansion
The Italian Renaissance house at 614 North Poplar Street in Paris was built by Orion C. Barton, prominent businessman and philanthropist, and his wife Tillie Cavitt. Prominent Atlanta-based architect Brinton B. Davis was retained to design the villa style home. Graceful and elegant, upon its completion in 1916, the mansion was featured in American Architect Magazine where it was pictured and described as the “Crown Jewel of West Tennessee.” Grand-daughter Matilda Gibson heir to the mansion made the property available to Henry County in 1941 for a small sum of money. The mansion has since served the community for over eighty years. Cavitt Place provided army officer headquarters during WWII while Camp Tyson was being built outside of Paris. Cavitt Place was home to TVA for many years. Most memorably, the house served generations of residents as the Henry County Health Department. 8X10 photograph, accession #2022-34-01.
Prior to the building of the Italian Renaissance mansion, The Bartons were at home with their two daughters in a rambling two story Queen Ann Victorian residence sprawled on a beautiful expanse of Cavitt property on North Poplar Street. The Queen Anne Victorian was dismantled, torn down, reportedly after a fire in the house in and around 1911. The wrought iron picket fence remains today from the old house at 614 north Poplar, nothing more. Much of the fine hardwood and decorative trim from the old house was repurposed to trim out several homes built down the hill on Poplar Street, homes still present today. Old Cavitt Place Property at 614 north Poplar Street photo, 1900’s, accession # 2022-34-02.
Portrait of the Barton daughters, Woodie and big sister Anne, early 1900’s, accession # 2022-34-03.
Woodie and Anne, side yard of the old Cavitt property, small portrait, accession # 2022-34-04.
Mr. Barton and Woodie in the front yard, about 1904, photo 3X4, accession #2022-34-05.
8X10 Photo, from the American Architect Trade Publication, 1916, accession # 2022-34-06.
Soon after the old Cavitt property house was destroyed, building of the New Cavitt Place commenced in and around 1911. The house was photographed upon completion in 1916 as pictured here for a feature layout in The American Architect Magazine; Architect, Brinton B. Davis designed the crème brick, terrazzo trim Italian Renaissance Revival style structure that became known as the Crown Jewel of West Tennessee.
Orion C. Barton, Esquire of Cavitt Place, front steps, about 1920, 4X6 photo accession # 2022-34-07.
Woodie Cavitt Barton was the daughter of Tillie and Mr. Barton. The Bartons married in 1893. Detail from portrait of Woodie and her mother Tillie Cavitt Barton, second wife of Orion C. Barton early 1900’s, accession # 2022-34-09.
Anne Hardy Barton and Nelle Ross Barton, daughters of Tommie Crutchfield Barton, first wife of Orion C. Barton; Small portrait 2X3, early 1900’s, accession #2022-34-10.
Tiny portrait of Anne, early 1900’s, accession #2022-34-14.
Granddaughters Nelle and Margaret, daughters of Ann Barton McSwain and Horace McSwain; Photo of Nelle Cavitt McSwain, accession # 2022-34-11; 8X10 portrait of Margaret McSwain, accession # 2022-34-12; Anne Hardy Barton married Horace A. McSwain in 1904 and they lived just next door to Cavitt Place. Doctor and Mrs. McSwain had also a son, named after his father and who became a doctor like his father (no picture available). Margaret never married and lived up the street on Poplar.
Granddaughter Matilda Barton Gibson and grandmother Tillie Barton, photo accession # 2022-34-13; Matilda was the daughter of Woodie Barton Gibson and Joseph Gibson Jr. of Belle-Meade, Nashville, TN. Woodie died in 1918 not long after giving birth to Matilda.
Mrs. Barton died in 1924 when Matilda was just six. Fourteen years later in 1938 at eighty eight Mr. Barton died. The house was only twenty two years old at the time.
Matilda Barton Gibson was twenty and was heiress to Cavitt Place and a substantial Trust in her name. In 1941, Matilda and her father Joseph Gibson of Belle-Meade, TN (Nashville) met with the city and county and with civic stakeholders to assess the best plan forward for Cavitt Place. The Gibsons, et al in agreement, decided to offer the property to the county for its use for less than $8,000.00. The Bartons had always been generous community supporters, Matilda and her father Joe Gibson followed suit. By all but giving the mansion to the County, Matilda had opened a window for Cavitt Place to provide a supporting accommodation to the county. At her death Matilda left the remainder of her Matilda Barton Trust to the Tennessee Baptist Convention and to three named persons, as was her grandfather’s wish. The church’s portion was $90,879.33.
Thanks to Matilda Barton Gibson, Cavitt Place at 614 North Poplar Street has served the community for more than eighty years in different supporting roles.
Cavitt Place Then and Now North Portico Views
My mother, Barbara Jeanne Wright Papetti, b. 1926 d. 2017. The surrey was used by her family as transportation during her childhood. It was bought in the early 1900s, before she was born, and was not new at the time of purchase, so I do not know the exact age. A beautiful black horse pulled the surrey when it was first bought. When the family first obtained the surrey, their mode of transportation would have been horseback, surrey or wagon. They later acquired automobiles, and during that time, they still used the surrey, especially, during the Depression. My grandmother, whose name was Mary Lucy Welch Wright, was a teacher before she was married, and she had a Ford Model T. During the Great Depression, my grandfather used the engine from her Model T to power a sawmill. He sold the lumber from this sawmill to help supplement their income, since times were so hard. They were especially glad to still have the surrey and wagon to use for transportation. Mother and her sister, Martha Elizabeth Wright Wharton, talked about taking the surrey to church every Sunday. They said that sometimes “preaching” would last all day, and when they came home late, they would have to use an attached lantern to light the way.
In regard to the family surrey that we donated to the museum - Repairs were done to the surrey, before we donated it. We found an Amish buggy maker in Ethridge, TN who agreed to make repairs and a replacement top. The wheels were repaired by an Amish wheelwright, who was also in the area of Ethridge, TN. The cost was over $2,300. My husband and I paid for the repairs and have donated the W.T. Wright family surrey to the Paris-Henry County Heritage Center where it is now at home at Cavitt Place under the tall stately portico, in Paris, TN. The slender and stylish surrey is a perfect fit for this property and home.
The Commander of “C” Company 5th Tennessee Infantry Regiment Captain Thomas Conway and his troops were presented this beautiful, gilded bible by the “ladies of Paris” on May 20, 1861, before marching off to fight in the American Civil War. The Company included many native sons of Henry County and Paris, TN. Captain Conway was killed in action at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 and the bible was then presented to Captain Conway’s widow.
The Conway Bible was published in 1860 by J.B. Lippincott & Company and is one of the incredible historical artifacts at the Heritage Center. Captain Conway wrote valuable handwritten accounts about his soldiers into the margins of this beautiful burgundy leather-bound bible with absolute dazzling gild trim. There is a gold gilded image of Jesus on the cover that reflects the sun coming in from the grand entranceway. Conway recorded the names of his soldiers that were promoted, discharged, killed or wounded in battle etc. thus providing exciting primary source historical information on some of Paris and Henry County Confederate Soldiers. There were ninety-two native sons on the original roster of “C” Company 5th Tennessee Volunteers from Paris and Henry County.
The Henry County Historical Society purchased the Conway Bible and presented it to the Paris Henry County Heritage Center to maintain its preservation and display for the local community. Recently the Bible has had a museum pedestal case built for its special housing and presentation. accession # 2022-033-21
A History of Henry County Commands which served in the Confederate States Army, including rosters of the various companies enlisted in Henry County, TENN. The book was published in 1904 and includes some but not all of the portraits of past Commanders. The Author served with Company “K” 5th Tennessee Infantry. accession # 2022-033-08
The Battle of Paris Tennessee
A depiction featuring The Battle of Paris TN. Which occurred early on during the American Civil War on March 11th, 1862, accession # 2022-033-28
Dr. Caldwell is photographed wearing his Civil War frock coat. Made of heavy wool the garment has been well preserved and is on display at the Paris Henry County Heritage Center. The buttons are from the time period but are not original to Dr. Caldwell’s frock. accession # 2022-033-23,24
This surgical instrument case belonged to Dr. Caldwell and was used by him during the Civil War. accession # 2022-033-26
Doctor Caldwell used the horse saddle medicine carrier during the Civil War. accession # 2022-033-25,26
Photography was a relatively new technology during the American Civil War and was the first major conflict to be extensively photographed. This photo was done using the daguerreotype process of capturing an image, which was available and widely used in the 1840s – 1860s. The name of this young confederate officer from Henry County is unknown. accession no. 2022-033-012
This unknown Henry County CSA soldier is holding the popular colt revolver used by both sides during the American Civil War. accession # 2022-033-16
May 23, 1861
From Col. Travis to Major General Pillows
“We have no tents or camping equipment! Let me have your orders by telegraph immediately”
From Col. Travis to General Pillows
“My Regiment can start tomorrow, give me definite orders. Our guns are expected on today’s train”
From Col. Travis to General Pillows
“The right-wing of my regiment reached here this evening, the left will be here tomorrow”
This unique document authored by Jefferson Davis Freeman and Published by Pioneer Press of Harriman Tennessee. Resources were scarce for the average soldier in the south and “The Confederate Cookbook” provides an insight as to how the CSA soldier survived their daily life during the war. Below are some examples of what’s inside the cover. Accession # 2022-033-31
Inside are the minutes of the 8th Annual United Daughters of the Confederacy Convention held in Paris Tennessee on May 11, 1904
Courthouse Square Paris Tennessee July 9, 1909, Company F CSA Veterans march to the statue dedication. accession # 2022-033-27
The Paris Blues was one of the best outfits from Tennessee during the Civil War. Company F was formed in Paris about a year before the war’s outbreak. Henry Countians fought gallantly in fifteen major battles throughout the war. The men in the photo gathered here in July 1909 for a reunion and memorial dedication on the Paris courthouse lawn. Below are the handwritten names of the veterans on the back of the photo. This unique discovery was taken in July 1909, forty-four years after the hostilities of the Civil War ceased.
The Century War Book is full of time period sketches. Published in 1885 by J.H. Brown Publishing co., New York. Eight different artist contributed to these books and were edited by the Generals and commanders on both sides of the conflict. The above sketches are of President Lincoln, General Grant and the Battle of Lookout Mountain in East Tennessee. accession# 2022-033-10,11
U.S.C.T (United States Colored Troops)
“For every drop of blood drawn with the lash
Shall be paid by another drawn with the sword.”
The 54th USCT (United States Colored Troops) formed in Mass. and took part in the heroic and tragic assault on Fort Wagner, S.C. in July 1863. acc# 2022-033-03
The 54th USCT(United States Colored Troops) formed in Boston Massachutes and took part in the heroic and tragic assault on Fort Wagner, S.C. in July, 1863. accession # 2022-33-02
On display are some rare and unique items including authentic time period gas mask, helmet and a 1907 bayonet. Also displayed are two special items from the Spanish American War featuring Paris native Captain Travis’s S&W .32 caliber revolver, an ammo case and a chaplain’s field hat from the Spanish American War. We also have on display original photographs of local “doughboys” in France and original enlistment contracts.
The M2 gas mask was made by the French and used by French, British and US troops. In such great condition, the instruction manual is still attached. Accession # 2022-034-06
The Sword Pattern 1907 Short Magazine Lee Enfield (SMLE) Bayonet was used extensively by Allis forces throughout WWI and WWII. The seventeen-inch blade came with a scabbard. The 1907 SMLE Bayonet was intended to provide an advantage to the soldier in close fighting. accession # 2022-034-01
Designed and patented by John Brodie, a Londoner in 1915, the British Mark I Steel helmet was adopted by the Americans and stamped M1917 Shrapnel - Helmet. The British and American soldiers soon found more colorful names for their helmets such as “the battle bowler, Tommy helmet, tin hat and doughboy helmet.” Although advances in personal protection on the battlefield had come a long way since WW I, the Mark I helmet offered some protection for the troops in the trenches of WW I. More than offering protection the Doughboys often used the helmet for their own personal daily hygiene such as shaving and washing. accession # 2022-034-03
Motor Parts Division, Support Depot
23. Rue St. Martin Nevers, France
The United States congress declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917. The U.S. deployed the American Expeditionary Brigade to France. Known as “doughboys” the American involvement helped the war come to a speedy end with an Allis victory on 11 November 1918. accession # 2022-034-02
Jerry Fitch from Springville Tennessee enlisted in the U.S. Army at the onset of America’s involvement in June 1916. Fitch enlisted in Big Sandy and listed his occupation as farmer. Fitch served in the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) during WW I and participated in numerous offenses. Honorably discharged at the end of hostilities, he returned home and settled in Springville, TN.
Honorable Discharge of Corporal Jerry C. Fitch U.S. Army
Oye Sanders, the big brother of Dal served in the 79th Division in WW I
Tragically, within a year upon their return to the U.S. the brothers would succumb to tuberculosis. Within a year their mother and brother would die a week of apart. Henry the youngest was only sixteen when he passed away from TB.
Smith & Wesson’s .32 and .38 Double Action Revolvers were extremely popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries with nearly 1.5 million sold, peaking between the years 1881 and 1910. accession # 2022-033-07
Captain Travis’s S &W .38 ammo carrying case accession #2022-033-04
The Heritage Center in Paris is proud to display this unique artifact dating to the Spanish American War in 1898 accession # 2022-033-05
Stay abreast for additional postings as our collection swells with artifacts donated from our friends, family and community, from here at home and afar.
This Collection's Page is made possible by a Humanities 2022 Sharp Grant received in the spring. The grant was created for just such a time as this: to jump start robust and broad reach programing as we made our way past the pandemic to regain momentum. A thanks to Humanities Tennessee and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Your generous spirit and funding has inspired us to continue on through 2023 to further build out the collection and its presence on the web Collections page. Humanities Tennessee 2022 Sharp Grant has created work for those who photographed and documented our collection for download onto our website to enhance and expand our visibility and our outreach.