For the community of Clarksville, coming together to support a cause and lend a hand is something that seems to come naturally, so giving are the people who live and work here that no mission is too difficult to complete. And as a community so deeply rooted to the military, the word “mission” is certainly a familiar one, one that rolls off the tongue with regularity and lack of forethought. They know that a mission takes teamwork and dedication, a vision to see it through to completion through planning, preparation, and hard work. And it is those very things that accomplished the mission of repairing the Parrish House this year when the historic old building that serves as the home base for Fort Campbell’s Army Community Service Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) was given some much-needed attention so that it could truly serve the needs of the families of our fallen heroes.
Originally built in the 1830s by David Parrish, a veteran of the War of 1812, the Parrish House has undergone several transformations throughout the course of its lifetime, going from a two-story log cabin to a massive Greek Revival style mansion with Italianate additions. Beginning in the mid-20th century, the massive house served as a home to Fort Campbell’s commanding generals until 2014, when former Commanding General of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell Maj. Gen. James McConville donated the Parrish House to ACS-SOS.
Time and use have naturally taken a toll on the structure and the property itself, and more than everyday maintenance tasks began to bring the need for more major repairs to reality. No small task—even under normal circumstances. But because of the fact that Parrish House is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, Federal law requires that the historic character of the building and property be maintained.
“We started working in early May on the exterior of the Parrish House to include new landscaping, patio furniture, and even upgrading the playground area,” says director of Corporate and Military Development at F&M Bank Charlie Koon, who played a key role in generating support and supplies as well as recruiting volunteers to complete the project—so much so, in fact that he was officially presented with The Commander’s Award for Public Service by the U.S. Army. “Since then, we have painted most of the interior as well as some of the exterior, replaced the carpeting on the stairs, changed multiple light fixtures, and made repairs to the kitchen such as installing new appliances and upgrading the lighting,” Koon continues, cataloging an impressive list of changes.
Equally impressive is the number of hands put to work on the project, the number of hours and resources put toward bringing the mission to successful completion. “Nathan Clark and David Adams, Lowe’s store managers in Clarksville, have been great assets to this project. Their willingness to get involved and turn this project into a ‘Lowe’s Heroes’ community project really took this community partnership to a new level; and Niki Harrison, ProService Sales Specialist for Lowe’s, did a great job coordinating volunteers on-site and making sure that all materials were delivered as needed,” Koon says, his gratitude for such willing support evident. “Having 12 Lowe’s stores contribute to this project along with F&M Bank, AJAX Distributing, the Clarksville Area Chamber of Commerce, The Christian County Chamber of Commerce, Montgomery County Master Gardeners, Gold Star Family Members, and many other community members has made the Survivor Outreach Services Project an incredible success.”
“This is all about taking care of our warriors. These men and women have given all that they are and all that they'll ever be to the country and community that they love, and the Parrish House reflects that service,” says Kim Wead, a Master Gardener intern who used her expertise to serve as volunteer coordinator for landscaping. Like Koon, Wead was also awarded for her service and honored with The Commander’s Award for Public Service. “In turn, we’re reflecting that love on our nation of heroes.”
And what an outpouring of love it has been, as more than 200 volunteers have put in long hours at Parrish House, among them Army spouses, Gold Star Family members, Fort Campbell’s Directorate of Public Works employees, master gardeners and interns from the Montgomery County Master Gardeners Association, and Lowe’s Home Improvement employees as well as students from local high schools and colleges. “This truly was a joint effort between Fort Campbell and our local communities, and it was amazing to see everyone come together to honor and remember the sacrifices of our fallen military and their families,” says Suzy Yates, Survivor Outreach Services Program Manager at Fort Campbell.
Now complete in its repairs, the Parrish House was officially rededicated on September 7, 2018 in a ceremony featuring a ribbon cutting as well as words of thanks by Brigadier General Todd Royar, Acting Senior Commander of the 101st Airborne Division. A time of honoring all who worked to make the Parrish House mission-worthy, the historic old home is now that very thing it has long been meant to be: a place to raise up those grieving the loss of their fallen.