History of DR. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Association

As told by Austin Jennings

At the cemetery when Dr. J.F. Adams was being buried in May, 1964, Sol Berger and Leonard Friedman, the top executives of Colonial Corporation of America, walked up to me and discussed the need for a proper memorial to Dr. Adams. It is generally conceded that Dr. Adams was one of our community's most ardent supporters and had made the quality of life for our people much better by his influence.

It was mutually agreed that a statue was not adequate, rather something that would help the people of Cannon County. My suggestion was that a library would fill a great need in our community and the two men said to get going in organizing this as a project.

A few days later a group of Woodbury business men, most being members of the Woodbury Lions club of which I was president at the time, met in Hoyt Bryson's law office and organized The Dr. and Mrs. J.F. Adams Memorial Association. Plans were discussed for a fund raising campaign to fund the library project. Among those at the meeting: Sol Berger, Leonard Friedman, Hoyt Bryson, Ed Lehning, W.I. Womack, W.L. Richardson, Walden Watson, R.W. Hawkins, R.H. Burke, and Austin Jennings who was named chairman. Member Austin Jennings is currently (2012) the only surviving original member of the association. Current board members are: Wilma Adams, Steve Smith, Barbara Parker, Gerald Molitor, Jackie Francis, Regina Merriman, Donnie Odom, Charlie Harrell, Angie Ott, Herb Alsup and Rita Allen, director of the library.

The association is incorporated as a nonprofit corporation and was designated by the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) charitable organization, providing the best opportunity to give donors full tax advantage of their gifts.

Mr. Berger engaged the services of the same architect he used in the construction of his factory buildings and the plans were drawn for the library building. Mrs. Adams donated the lot next door to the Adams home on College Street.

A fund raising campaign was launched and the people of the county were very generous to give a total of $85,000. (1965 dollars would be equivalent to approximately $800,000 in 2012.) As the construction work progressed, under the supervision of Henry Hoover, it became evident that we could not build the building for that amount of money, so we went to the Bank of Commerce and borrowed $55,000. The bank discounted the note and it was paid off later. Mr. Berger provided approximately $80,000 of the entire $160,000 cost of the building. The building was dedicated in July, 1966.

Mrs. Adams and members of her family were very generous in providing various pieces of property to the memorial association. Rental income from these properties provided funds to properly maintain the buildings and grounds. The Adams home was deeded to the association upon the death of Mrs. Adams. A major interest in the industrial property at the corner of College Street and W. Water Street that housed the box factory was donated to the association. The funds from the sale of these properties, along with other donations from various members of the Adams family have been the primary source of a trust fund the association has today which provides income needed to keep the building in top notch condition.

In the fall of 1995 the estate of Mrs. Maedell Banks Rogers was settled and the association received a bequest of $135,000 which was added to our trust fund. These funds now total well over $600,000 and are invested to provide income for continued maintenance and upkeep as well as occasional additions to the facility and its equipment. One major contribution to the library was the computerization of the library's catalog, and connection to the internet.

The building is provided to the county at no cost. The county library board, named by the county commissioners, operates the library at very nominal cost to the county and city, funding only the salaries and utilities. Dr. & Mrs. J.F. Memorial Library has the highest per capita circulation in Middle Tennessee area. A community room in the lower level is available for other nonprofit organizations to hold public meetings. An expansion and renovation project is now underway to make the library building capable of handling the unusual growth of its use by more than 5,500 registered users. The project includes the addition of a 3,000 square foot addition plus updating the original building including the community meeting room. The cost of this project, including the cost of purchase of land to the south of the property, is expected to run over $1.5 million. It is the goal of the association's board of directors to have raised the funds and open the building around the end of 2012 debt free.