“Tarver Distributing is such a great supporter of our community. We are so pleased to have them on board with our heritage project,” said Faye Callaway, immediate past president of the CCH Historical Society.
In business since 1962, Tarver Distributing moved their warehouse operation to Charleston in 1989.
“We recognize the historical relevance of Charleston, and this project is a worthwhile investment in the community,” said Ross Tarver, president of Tarver Distributing.
“It is important to future generations that we teach our young people about the past. My dad always said, ‘It’s hard to know where you’re going, if you don’t know where you’ve been.’ ”
CCH Historical Society purchased a vacant bank branch on U.S. Highway 11 and repurposed the building as a heritage center, part of an overall heritage development plan to recognize the significant history on the banks of the Hiwassee River. Phase I of the Hiwassee River Heritage Center is opening Friday with a special event at 2 p.m. and open house from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The heritage plan also includes a river park at the Hiwassee River and an interpretive greenway connecting the park with the heritage center.
Organizers say the concept of the project is to educate visitors and residents about the significant history of the area by providing an opportunity to walk where the Cherokee people walked and experience the land and water that they loved.
The overall three-part plan is expected to be complete in about five years, but the benefits can be seen immediately with the opening of the heritage center. Future plans for expanding the heritage center and complete the overall plan will be completed in phases.
The heritage center as well as interpretive features along the greenway and at the river park will tell the story of the area known as present-day Charleston being a major gateway to the Cherokee Nation. The federal Indian Agency was located in Charleston and provided protection to the Cherokee, who lived, farmed, traded and worshiped in this area.
Ultimately in 1838, present-day Charleston became known as Fort Cass, the federal headquarters for the entire Trail of Tears operation, removing the Cherokee from their eastern homelands and forcing them to designated lands in the west.
“This is a significant piece of American history that needs to be preserved, and we can do that in a respectful way focusing on education and accuracy,” said Melissa Woody, vice president for Convention & Bureau for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.
“We have had amazing support for this project, and we welcome the Tarver family as a partner.”
Woody has been working with the CCH Historical Society to raise funds for the project.
“The project involves many partners and we have been fortunate to lots of help from so many individuals and organizations,” Callaway said. “We are so excited about Friday’s opening.”