Tuesday, January 6, 2009

General Lloyd Tilghman House Saved

Groups save Tilghman House

Southern general had owned home

By C.D. Bradley • The Paducah Sun • December 14, 2008

PADUCAH, Ky. -- Three years after local groups teamed up to save the Lloyd Tilghman House and Civil War Museum, a deal struck earlier this month appears to offer a stable foundation for the museum to continue operating.

The Tennessee-based Sons of Confederate Veterans bought the former home of Confederate Gen. Lloyd Tilghman from the Market House Museum, with each group paying half of the nearly $150,000 mortgage. The museum's board stepped in, along with the city and the Paducah-McCracken County Convention and Visitors' Bureau, when financial woes threatened to shutter the home in 2005.

"It's part of fulfilling our mission of education and preservation," said B.J. Summers, president of the Market House Museum board. "We hated to see a museum fail. Three years ago, we put together a package to allow them to operate, and today we fulfilled that package."

The Paducah home was built for Tilghman in 1852, and he lived there until 1861. Tilghman commanded the Confederate garrison at Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and went on to lead troops in the Vicksburg campaign, where he died in 1863.

Ben Sewell III, executive director of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the group owns a half-dozen properties throughout the South and was pleased to help keep the Tilghman House open.

"It's obviously a nice piece of property," Sewell said. "We hope the people of Paducah and Western Kentucky will continue to enjoy it as the wonderful historic home that it is."

Sewell credited John Weaver, former chairman of the Tilghman Heritage Center board and a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' local Lloyd Tilghman Camp 1495, for helping put the package together. Weaver and other Camp 1495 members will organize the volunteers that will keep the center operating, Sewell said.

"It's a unique piece of history, and now it's on solid footing," Weaver said. He said the Dec. 1 deal makes the house mortgage-free for the first time in a decade, relieving the pressure on the nonprofit group to make monthly payments.

"Now we just need to make enough to keep the doors open," he said.

For now, the group plans to maintain its March-to-November schedule, with the house open from noon to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday. Weaver said he hopes for enough visitors and volunteers to open more days a week, for longer hours and perhaps eventually year-round. The house schedules appointments for school and group tours.

Distributed by The Associated Press