Union University
Union University Dept of History

Department News




History Group Does Service Project at Historic Bemis Auditorium/Theater

Nov 1, 2011

The history department sponsored a community service project at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, 2011, as a part of Union University’s “Campus and Community: A Day of Remembrance and Service.” Members of Phi Alpha Theta and the Rutledge Honorary History Club joined other history students and history department faculty to perform a variety of tasks at the auditorium/theater, which is now a museum. The lead host for the project was Mr. Joel Jackson, chair of the Bemis Historical Society.

The day began with a tour of the historic mill town of Bemis. Mr. Jackson took 22 people - including 5 history department faculty members and 17 students - on the tour, which began at the auditorium building. The group stopped at the Missouri Street Commercial Area that once was home to the Bemis Mercantile Company Store, a doctor’s office, a drug store, and a YMCA. A post office established in commercial area in 1921 is still in operation. The group also visited some historical residential areas with unique home designs. The tour ended at the Bemis Methodist Church, whose main building was given to the town in 1906 by mill owner Judson Moss Bemis.

The service project participants performed several assignments at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater. One group inventoried archival materials, while another cleaned stairways and ground-level floors. A third contingent cleaned basement rooms by sweeping floors and getting rid of boxes, crates, and other debris. A last crew focused on sprucing up the yard around the historic building. There to assist them were members of the Bemis Historical Society, including Mr. Jackson, Mrs. Rosalee Gibbons, Mrs. Linda Higgins, Mrs. Pat Johnson, Mr. Jim Mitchell, and Mr. Frank Murchison.

The Bemis Historical Society provided refreshments, and participants also enjoyed homemade chocolate chip cookies. The project ended with the Union group’s arrival on campus around 12:30 p.m.


Participants in the history department's community service project in the historic mill town of Bemis stand by the main entrance to the Bemis Auditorium/Theater just before a tour of the town. They are: (front row, left to right) Dr. Stephen Carls, Savannah German, Caitlin Roach, Elaura Highfield, and Dr. Judy LeForge; (second row, left to right) Dr. Terry Lindley (with "NC" cap) Jordan Haskins (with black "A" cap) Megan Winters, Heather Stricklin, and Lesley Bright; (third row, left to right) Will Miller, Colton Gebben, Caraline Rickard, Katy Fraley, and Glenae Nora; (back row, left to right) Samuel Wiggin, Charles Snow, Raven Richardson, Cale LIttle, Dr. David Thomas, Patricia Dawson, and Dr. Keith Bates.


Mr. Joel Jackson (left), chair of the Bemis Historical Society, tells the Union community service day participants about the Judson Moss Bemis Fountain to his left during a tour of the mill town on November 1, 2011.


History department participants in the Campus and Community project in Bemis listen intently to Mr Joel Jackson, their tour guide, talk about the mill town on November 1, 2011. They are (left to right) Caitlin Roach, Dr. Keith Bates (to Caitlin's right), Savannah German, Elaura Highfield, Megan Winters, and Cale Little.


Mr. Joel Jackson, the history group's tour guide and chair of the Bemis Historical Society, talks on November 1 about the home behind him that was once the residence of the Bemis Mill plant manager.


Union service project participants listen to Mr. Joel Jackson talk about the Bemis Mill during a tour of historic Bemis on November 1, 2011. They are: (left to right) Dr. Judy LeForge, Heather Stricklin, Colton Gebben, Will Miller, Charles Snow, and Sam Wiggin.


Community service project participants listen intently on November 1, 2011, as Mr. Joel Jackson, the group's tour guide, mentions that the gray building in the background was once a Bemis grocery store.


Mr. Joel Jackson (left), chair of the Bemis Historical Society, pinpoints a spot on a photo of the Bemis mill while he tells a story about the plant on November 1, 2011. Mr. Frank Murchison observes.


Union participants and Bemis Historical Society members work on inventorying archival materials on November 1, 2011, at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater.


Union University's Will Miller (front left) and Dr. Terry Lindley (right) help Mrs. Pat Johnson inventory artifacts at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, 2011.


Savannah German (left) and Megan Winters inventory archival materials at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater as a part of the history department's community service project on November 1, 2011.


Mrs. Rosalee Gibbons of the Bemis Historical Society watches Jordan Haskins and Caitlin Roach inventory Bemis Mill materials at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater during Union's Campus and Community Day on November 1, 2011.


Dr. David Thomas and Caraline Rickard take a break after mopping a stairway at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater as a part of Union's Day of Remembrance activities on November 1, 2011.


Katy Fraley dusts the floor in front of a painting of a cotton field at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, 2011. In the background of the painting is the Bemis cotton mill.


Dr. Judy LeForge takes a break from cleaning floors at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1 to admire a cotton field mural that has a third dimension added on one side to make the painting more real for the viewer.


Elaura Highfield (left to right), Cale Little, and Dr. Keith Bates load debris onto the back of a pickup truck at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, while Mr. Jim Mitchell (right) of the Bemis Historical Society supervises.


Colton Gebben sweeps a floor in the basement of the Bemis Auditorium/Theater during the Phi Alpha Theta/History Department community service project on November 1, 2011.


Students take a break from their clean-up work in a basement room of the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, 2011. They are: (left to right) Lesley Bright, Patricia Dawson, Raven Richardson, Glenae Nora, and Heather Stricklin.


Dr. Stephen Carls (left to right), Glenae Nora, and Heather Stricklin smile for the camera during the history department's community service project at the Bemis Auditorium/Theater on November 1, 2011.


Union students and faculty gather together just before their departure from the Bemis Auditorium/Theater to return to the Union campus on November 1, 2011. With them are members of the Bemis Historical Society.