Building on its rich tradition of community outreach‚ Kennesaw State University has acquired the Bartow County homestead of renowned Georgia author and World War I correspondent Corra Harris.
On Nov. 10‚ the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia voted to accept as a gift "In the Valley‚" a 56−acre homestead just north of Cartersville‚ Ga.‚ on behalf of KSU.
"This is an extraordinary opportunity for the university‚" said Catherine Lewis‚ associate professor of history and coordinator of the public history program at KSU. "With good planning and strong partnerships‚ KSU will work to stabilize‚ preserve and interpret the site for citizens throughout Georgia and the Southeast."
Cartersville business leader and preservationist Jodie Hill donated "In the Valley" to the university. Hill purchased the property in 1996 to preserve Harris' legacy.
"The property had been sitting there for more than 60 years‚" Hill recalled. "I learned that a farmer was going to buy it‚ tear down everything and build chicken houses‚ so I just bought it to save it. I didn't know what to expect‚ but it was the right decision."
Harris (1869−1935) was a noted Georgia author and wrote 250 articles and short stories and 20 books‚ including the best−selling novel "A Circuit Rider's Wife‚" upon which the 1951 movie "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain" is based. She also was the first female war correspondent during World War I.
The historic homestead on Harris’ farm is actually two homes in one and contains the original one−room log cabin built in 1820 by Chief Pine Log. The remainder of the home includes original furniture and primitive tools used during the early 1900s. There is also a modest fieldstone chapel that overlooks the valley. Under the floor of the chapel is Harris' grave. Other buildings on the property include a spring house‚ a carriage house‚ several barns‚ a smokehouse and a library.
KSU officials hope students will gain valuable research and field experience by examining the archaeological‚ environmental‚ and social and literary history of the site.
"We have a rich tradition of serving the community through public history outreach‚" said KSU President Daniel S. Papp. "KSU's Museum of History and Holocaust Education attracts more than 35‚000 visitors annually; the Center for Regional History and Culture regularly hosts symposia and public programs in the community; and the Public History Certificate Program trains undergraduate students to become museum and preservation professionals. KSU has expert staff and faculty who have worked for many years in these fields. We also have faculty involved in environmental studies and biology that will have an opportunity to use the site as a field school."
The university also plans to host guided tours for K−12 public and home−schooled students‚ as well as community groups‚ youth clubs and other organizations. Students and student organizations will likely engage in service−learning projects on the property‚ in addition to the property serving as a retreat‚ conference and research center for the university and the surrounding community.
"KSU is excited about this opportunity to continue to expand our reach and public service‚" Lewis said.