Carla Love Maitland
As I walked down the long school hallway, my feet felt the familiar tread of aged wooden flooring under me . . . familiar because I had felt that same sensation under my feet for six long years at my own elementary school many years ago. The trip back in time I was taking occurred on Thursday, January 24, 2013, when several members of the Tennessee Genealogical Society visited the Cordova Museum, located at 1017 North Sanga Road in Cordova, TN. The visit was part of the TNGen Society’s popular monthly ‘field trip’ program to various museums, historic homes, and other places of historic and genealogical interest in and around Memphis.
The museum itself is located inside the historic Cordova High School, built in 1913, and now known as the Cordova Community Center. The school would eventually close out the high school grades, and the building would serve as an elementary school until it was completely closed in 1973. For the next few years, it served as a storage area for the Shelby County School System. Facing the possibility of seeing the school torn down, a group of historic-minded citizens took quick action and managed to save the building by purchasing it after a long series of fundraising activities. The citizens of that community were also able to have the building recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Looking at the old two-part school desks with the seat attached to the back of a desk, I saw the holes in the right-hand corner that were used as inkwells. I remember putting my own bottle of ink in the same type of hole and trying my best to fill my adorable pink ink pen that my Mother bought for me to use. Loved the pen – hated the process of filling it with ink. What a mess that always was, and what a different world, too!
The museum brought that world back to life. The room abounds with memories, not only from my era, but also from a time that goes back to the beginning of the Cordova community itself – the early 1800s. Photos of former students and citizens, records and research books of various types and other mementos of times past (including register books of area cotton merchants) help make this place a genealogy or history lover’s dream.
The museum is always in need of volunteers or financial assistance. Please contact Museum Director, Darlene Hooker Sawyer, at 901.757.4400 for more information. Darlene is ably assisted most days by retired University of Memphis professor, Dr. Jane Hooker, as well as by Mr. Don Odom. Both gladly volunteer their time to help bring the past to life for others.
If you are on Facebook, search for Cordova Museum to learn more – and be sure to click ‘like!’ You will definitely like this place!