Sullivan County

Local places added to National Register of Historic Places

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Three local places have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, including Bristol's famous Grand Guitar.

Driving along Interstate 81, it's not hard to spot the Grand Guitar sitting near Exit 74 in Tennessee. "It just kind of announces to the travelers on I-81 that we're a music town and we're a music state," says Anita Morrell, the owner of the Grand Guitar.

Morrell's dad, Joe, built the guitar in 1983. It's now being recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. "They thought it was a regional landmark and needed the protection. It's worthy of being restored and preserved," adds Morrell.

Now Morrell is hoping the distinction will help get the ball rolling for some renovations. "More than anything I think it just validates the fact that it's a landmark and know will help us going forward," she said.

Also newly added to the register is the Martin-Dobyns House in Kingsport. Built in 1884, it's where the first mayor of Kingsport, James Wiley Dobyns, called home.

"It's interesting how Sullivan County has mothered, and that's the only word I can use, has mothered this historical site. Now I think people are beginning to recognize their residence has historic significance. They're important places," says Sullivan County historian Nancy Hamblen Acuff.

Acuff says these two new distinctions, along with some revisions made to the Blountville Historic District making it a Civil War State Battlefield; helps establish this region's historic significance.  

It also ensures the sites are around for generations to come. "The federal guidelines will give them what they can do and what they can't do. There are real limits to what you can do and what you can't do to a [historic] building," adds Acuff.

Now, the future of the historic sites will help teach about the past of the region.

Six places in Tennessee have been added to the list in addition to the three in Sullivan County -- the Tennessee Supreme Court building in Nashville, and the Mead Marble and Ross Marble Quarries in Knox County.

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