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Legacy Plaza to tell Johnson City's story

Robert Houk • Jun 14, 2019 at 12:00 AM

Mayor Jenny Brock believes Legacy Plaza — the signature project of Johnson City’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration — will represent a “beautiful addition” to both King Commons and the city.

She and other city commissioners joined members of the Sesquicentennial Commission, project fundraisers and donors on Thursday for a groundbreaking ceremony at the site of Legacy Plaza, 112 N. Commerce St.

“Once these celebrations are behind us, this Legacy Project will remain a visible reminder of this milestone and be yet another draw to our downtown,” the mayor said

City Commissioner Larry Calhoun told the crowd the Sesquicentennial Commission is conducting a fundraising campaign to help pay for Legacy Plaza. Funds raised by the committee will be added to the $1.3 million that commissioners have already earmarked.

Calhoun also said a second groundbreaking ceremony will be held in the next few weeks for the Natural Adventure Area, which will be located on a nearby site across from King Street. This component includes state-of-the-art features that promote a healthy and active lifestyle for people of all ages.

Legacy Plaza is expected to be completed by Dec. 1. City Public Works Director Phil Pindzola said Legacy Plaza and the Natural Adventure Area will cost $750,000 each to build.

He said Thomas Construction has been contracted to do much of the work, with BrightRidge, Summers-Taylor and General Shale also adding to the project. Mitch Cox has also agreed to contribute the restroom facilities for Legacy Plaza.

The history circle area includes four concentric rings featuring 31 engraved blocks that list key dates and information about Johnson City’s history. A commissioned art piece selected by Johnson City’s Public Art Committee will be installed at the center of the rings. The nearby “Tri-Star” area pays tribute to the Tennessee flag, which was designed by Johnson City resident Col. LeRoy Reeves.

A sesquicentennial time capsule will be buried beneath Legacy Plaza on Dec. 1 to commemorate the end of the sesquicentennial celebration.

Bob Cantler, a member of the Sesquicentennial Fundraising Committee, said the historical rings are a “representation of so many things that are a part of our DNA in Johnson City.”

Hal Hunter, a city historian, said the dates included at Legacy Plaza “tell the story” of Johnson City and provide a “broader understanding of our history.” Some of the historical dates to be marked by the legacy project include 1870, when the city’s namesake and first postmaster, Henry Johnson, became its first mayor; 1889, when Powell Square was established as the city’s first public park; and 1961, when May Ross McDowell was elected by her colleagues to be the city’s first female mayor.

Donations to the legacy project can be made online by going to www.jctn150.com, or by mailing a check to the City of Johnson City/ATTN Janet Jennings, CPA, CPFO at 601 E. Main St., P.O. Box 2150, Johnson City, TN 37605-2150.

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