College Hill Historic District

college hill 2

Education has played a powerful role in Brownsville’s historic past, as evidenced by the College Hill Historic District.  At its heart is the Brownsville Baptist Female College (BBFM).  The West Tennessee Baptist Convention founded the BBFM in 1850.  Two years later, they built the first brick school in Brownsville. The original 1852 vernacular Greek Revival building was renovated in 1911 with the addition of a new brick facade.  The college also had a music wing.  To Baptist reformers in the 1850s, female colleges created environments secluded from interruptions by boys.  The idea was pitched as a way for daughters to learn marketable skills, such as teaching or bookkeeping, before they became women. Educating women in the antebellum South also reflected larger Baptist values to cleanse southern society of immorality and as an antidote to the growing sectionalism with the North.

The houses within the district were constructed between the mid-19th and mid-20th century. These dwellings were once the homes of Brownsville’s elite, from pre-Civil War plantation owners to 20th century businessmen.  They display a wide array of architectural styles including Greek revival, Gothic Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, Folk Victorian, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Craftsman, Minimal Traditional and Ranch.  The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

The establishment of the BBFM spurred the development of the dense residential district that surrounds the school.  Located at the BBFM are the Haywood County Sports Museum and the Haywood County Museum.  Both tell the rich and detailed story of Brownsville.  There are also two cemeteries in the district, the Oakwood Cemetery and the Bond Family Cemetery, where many of Brownsville’s prominent citizens now rest.

Felsenthal “Abraham Lincoln” Collection
Thomas-Harper-Sellari House
Folk-Sellari House
Thornton-Sills House
French-Bomer-Reid House
Bond-Livingston-Tripp House
Eader-Walker-Skinner House
Bond-Meux-Livingston House
Rothschild-Hamer House
McLemore-Thomas House