Uplands Village: The Past, Present, and Future

Written by Jack Stebbins, Uplands Village resident   

My connection to Uplands Village began over a hundred years ago. In 1917, my family moved from St. Paul, Minnesota, to Amherst, Massachusetts. First Congregational Church became their house of worship, and it was there that my mother, Helen Elder (destined to become Helen Stebbins), a junior in high school, learned about the church’s missionary outreach in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee.

One of First Church’s members, Elizabeth Fletcher, was teaching art at Pleasant Hill Academy, and the church was helping support her. That same year, the Reverend Edwin Wharton became the Academy’s principal, and his wife, Dr. May Wharton, assumed the duties of teacher and school physician duties. A year after Edwin’s death in 1920, Dr. May and Miss Fletcher opened Sanex, a two-bed hospital in Pleasant Hill, and shortly afterward, Alice Adshead, a registered nurse from England, joined them. This triumvirate became the driving force behind the burgeoning of the medical presence in Cumberland County.

The growth of this spearhead required contributions from far and wide. Elizabeth Fletcher proved to be a natural at fundraising. As might be expected, she first tapped sources with whom she was familiar: family, friends, and friends of friends. Her father was a Librarian at Amherst College, and her brother, Thomas, succeeded him in that position. With church and Amherst College sources to utilize, Elizabeth became very effective.

Throughout the ensuing decades in Amherst, there was an ongoing connection with Pleasant Hill. Over time, with the medical presence growing larger and stronger in Crossville, Uplands Village morphed into a retirement community. First Church members moved here to retire from time to time, and others served on the Board of Directors.

During my early years in First Church, I can remember a large barrel standing in a corner of the basement near the Sunday School area. It was available for clothing donations. Only after I moved to Uplands Village did I realize those donations were shipped down here for distribution by The Grab.

Fast forward sixty years, and my mother is long widowed and making decisions about her own retirement. After twenty years in the First Church office, she remembered Uplands Village and grew curious about what kind of a place it had become. With forethought, she made arrangements to spend the winter of 1979 finding out. First, she occupied a house on Maple Circle vacated temporarily by a resident who was called back into the mission field and became an active part of the community. Then, in the spring of 1980, she returned home on fire about her experience in Uplands Village. In short order, she got me married off, sold her house, packed up her belongings, and moved to Tennessee, where she lived out her remaining fifteen years.

My part in this can be briefly stated. Several times during her tenure here, I visited my mother, and I absorbed the flavor of life in the community. Uplands Village was homey, friendly, and in all ways impressive. So in 2017, when it became my turn to make similar decisions about retirement, Uplands was a natural choice. As we head into the future, I know I couldn’t have chosen better.