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Appalachian Heritage Project opens on Pellissippi State’s Strawberry Plains Campus

Ribbon cutting for the new Strawberry Plains Campus Library and Appalachian Heritage Project
Pellissippi State celebrated the opening of its new Strawberry Plains Campus Library, home of the Appalachian Heritage Project, on Sept. 9, 2022. From left are Cindy McCleary-North, Gary North, Strawberry Plains Campus Dean Mike North, Marty North, student Elise Acuff, Dean of Library Services Mary Ellen Spencer, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr., Rich Ray and Chris Parrott of FirstBank. The college also marked the Strawberry Plains Campus’ 10th anniversary with a ceremony after the ribbon cutting.

A new campus library at Pellissippi State Community College will serve as a repository for regional literature, history and folklore. 

The Appalachian Heritage Project, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, opened Friday, Sept. 9, inside the college’s new Strawberry Plains Campus Library. The ribbon cutting was a perfect prelude to the Strawberry Plains Campus’ 10th anniversary celebration later that day. 

“We expect that the Appalachian Heritage Project will be one of the most unique educational settings in Tennessee,” said Executive Director Aneisa Rolen of the Pellissippi State Foundation, which was tasked with raising $400,000 in donations to match the $400,000 Infrastructure and Capacity-Building Challenge Grant the College received in November 2018. “This library will be a champion for Appalachian history and create a shared space that will bring together students and community members to learn about the people and the land of Strawberry Plains, East Tennessee and the Appalachian region.” 

Designed by Community Tectonics and built by Evans-Ailey Construction, the new Strawberry Plains Campus Library repurposes 9,000 square feet of space on the main level of the college’s campus at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville. The Appalachian Heritage Project, which is housed inside the new library, features curated collections of materials about all aspects of the region and quarterly programming focused on the art, literature, customs and history of the area will promote a better understanding of Appalachia.  

The Appalachian Heritage Project also provides Pellissippi State with opportunities to expand partnerships in the region and enhance community outreach via exhibits, lectures and workshops. The Project already has been offering quarterly programming while its physical space on the Strawberry Plains Campus was under construction. Earlier this year the project hosted Celebrating Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, an Appalachian Original, with musicians and educators Sean McCollough, Kelle Jolly and Chris Durman, and later a trip to the John Oliver Cabin in Cades Cove with adjunct history instructor and Smoky Mountains Hiking Club Vice President Steve Dunkin.  

“The Appalachian Heritage Project will honor our rich past as well as focus on the future of the region that our students will help to shape,” said Mary Ellen Spencer, dean of Library Services. “The new library is an ideal setting for the Project as it features technology-enhanced spaces that promote student learning. It is our hope that the North Family Community Room will become a central location in the Strawberry Plains community for educational programming about Appalachia.”   

The Appalachian Heritage Project hours are 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Fridays. For more information, contact Assistant Professor and Campus Librarian Allison McKittrick at 865.225.2322 or