Friday, January 4, 2013

Tullahoma, TN - Baillet House or The Fine Arts Center

The Tennessee Fine Arts Center is suppose to be haunted by the two sisters that lived here and owned the house before it was turned into the TFAC. Not sure exactly what kind of hauntings go on here but some say that they can feel cold spots, during classes-feel someone standing behind them, things being moved, and white orbs moving around the house.

Born out of a need to preserve the past, the Tullahoma Fine Arts Center now brings quality art experiences to the region, while also protecting and nurturing the legacy of the three Baillet sisters.

During the aftermath of the Civil War, Jennie, Emma and Affa accompanied their parents on a journey from Cattaraugus County, New York, to their new home in Tullahoma.

When the sisters arrived in 1868, Tullahoma was a small southern town in the midst of Reconstruction. Founded in 1852 on the Nashville-Chattanooga Railroad, it had been a strategic location during the war and served as the headquarters and main supply depot for the Army of Tennessee in 1863. It was later occupied by Northern forces and placed under military law.
The Baillet sisters quickly adapted to their new surroundings, became prominent members of the community and opened a millinery shop, one of the first businesses in town owned by women. Accomplished artists, the sisters also assisted the family in creating a striking Italianate home with many unique interior design features.

Located near the railroad at 401 South Jackson Street, the two-story brick house is one of the oldest structures in Tullahoma.
Art played a vital role in the Baillet sisters` lives, being one of the few acceptable activities for women in the nineteenth century. Their original art works were often given to friends as gifts. Many of these paintings have returned to the home and are part of TFAC`s permanent collection.
In addition to art, according to contemporary newspaper accounts, the sisters were deeply involved in %93political affairs, public reforms and progressive movements of all kinds.%94 And they were well respected for their %93many deeds of charity.%94 Among the many causes championed by the Baillets were those of the Woman`s Christian Temperance Union and the Equal Suffrage League.
Never marrying, the sisters lived together in the Baillet home until the last sister`s death in 1934.

In 1968, the centennial of the Baillets` arrival in Tullahoma, a dedicated group of art lovers united to save the home from certain destruction and restored the historic building as a center for the arts. A new wing, the Regional Museum of Art, was added in 1992, bringing a modern art gallery to the center and expanding TFAC`s classroom, office and storage space.
A bronze sculpture was permanently installed on the TFAC lawn in 1999. Entitled, Summer Song, it was created by Bell Buckle artist Russell Faxon. The statue was financed with a grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission and with public donations.
Obituary: Miss Jennie Baillet
Miss Jennie Baillet, for fifty years a resident of Tullahoma, died at her home Oct. 1, 1918. She was born Dec. 1, 1834 at Farmersville, Cattaraugus County, N.Y., and in 1868 came with her father and other members of the family to Tullahoma. Soon after coming here, she and her sisters opened a millinery and dress making establishment, which for many years was one of the important business houses of Tullahoma. From the beginning of her residence in Tullahoma, Miss Baillet took a prominent part in the activities of the town and was recognized as a very unusual woman. In addition to business ability and sound judgment in all practical affairs she had, literary and artistic tastes wide information, a remarkable memory and magnetic personality.
Perhaps her strongest leaning was toward political affairs, public reforms and progressive movements of all kinds. Her interest in these she retained until the day of her death.

Older residents of the town remember her many deeds of charity, her sympathy for those in distress and the valuable service she rendered as a pioneer worker in the Woman`s Christian Temperance Union and the Equal Suffrage League.
For the past several years she had been so frail physically that she was shut in most of the time but she bore her infirmities uncomplainingly and her mind remained clear, her spirit courageous to the end, when she went gladly to "greet the unseen."

Surviving her are her sisters, Misses Emma and Affa Baillet of Tullahoma, a niece, Mrs. Mary Wade Barr, of Colorado Springs, Col., and two nephews, Frank Baillet of Limestone, NY, and Harry M. Lupher of Chattanooga, Tenn., now in service in France.
Date and name of publication unknown
Miss Affa Ann Baillet
Year of death - 1934, date and name of publication unknown.
Miss Affa Baillett(sic) Claimed by Death

Another beautiful life was closed with the passing of Miss Affa Baillett, 84, which occurred Tuesday evening at 7 o`clock at her home on South Jackson street, bringing sorrow to a large number of devoted friends in this city.
Miss Baillet was born and reared at Limestone, N.Y., and had been a resident of Tullahoma for more than fifty years. Two sisters, Miss Emma and Miss Jennie Baillet, who were associated with her in the millinery business during their early residence in this city, preceded her to the beyond several years ago. Miss Baillet was a gifted artist, and had at her home a rare collection of antiques.

Miss Baillet had been confined to her bed for eight weeks. For the past week her niece, Mrs. Harry Lupher, of Chattanooga, was constantly at her bedside, and was with her when the end came.
Funeral services were held at the residence Wednesday afternoon at 3 o`clock, conducted by Rev. C.H. Maynard and Rev. C.M. Turner. Burial was in Oakwood cemetery.

Miss Baillet is survived by a nephew, H.M. Lupher of Chattanooga.

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