Disputed Minnie Pearl Statue Moved from Hometown in Tennessee

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Owner Checks Her into Historic Hotel to Help Community with One of Nations Highest Unemployment Rates.

The hotel is in a community that has been devastated by factory closings and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country

Legendary country humorist Sarah Cannon began her career in 1939 at a South Carolina hotel where, for the first time, she presented her now well-loved character, Minnie Pearl. This past Saturday, Minnie Pearl made yet another hotel appearance when her statue came to visit Linden, Tennessee's Commodore Hotel for a "vacation" as her owner and officials in Centerville work out their differences.

The larger-than-life bronze of Minnie Pearl usually resides on the courthouse square in Centerville, but renovation plans there, coupled with an announced relocation about fifty feet away, led owner Rod Harris to invoke the terms of his contract and reclaim the bronze figure.

"While I regret that we have not been able to completely resolve the location conflict over the Minnie Pearl bronze, created by internationally acclaimed artist Bill Rains of Montana, my attorney Philip Lyon and I now have dialogue with the city in order that she may remain in Centerville," Harris said. "However, I took custody of her on Saturday morning until we conclude or resolve the differences. Should she return to the square in Centerville, we will have a rededication ceremony."

In the meantime, Minnie has a new home in the Commodore's lobby--a hotel located between Nashville and Memphis, completed in 1939, the year Minnie Pearl made her professional debut. Harris said, "Upon removing her from Centerville, we will temporarily display her in the lobby of the historic Commodore Hotel in Linden, which we believe Miss Minnie would have loved. There she will receive some warm hospitality.

"The hotel is in a community that has been devastated by factory closings and has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country," Harris continued. "My hope in temporarily moving Minnie to Linden is that it will draw attention to their situation and put smiles, laughter, and positive thoughts in the air."

Hotel owners Michael and Kathy Dumont, and a host of volunteers, helped Harris with the move early Saturday, and then worked carefully and respectfully to place the statue in her new environs. A large crowd gathered on Main Street as the bronze was unloaded and moved into the hotel lobby; even more passersby slowed down in surprise. As Harris commented Saturday on the relocation of Miss Minnie, his disappointment in having to take her away from her home was clear, but he was equally pleased to have found her a temporary residence not too far away. In this community where hard times seem to have fallen on many fronts, a bit of Minnie Pearl's humor may be just what is needed. The statue will be on display at the Commodore at least through the weekend of the Blooming Arts Festival, slated for March 21. The festival effort" is the kick off event to promote the renaissance of Linden, as an arts destination and to stimulate the local economy.

Linden's revitalization has begun with the renovation of signature buildings and a scheduled "downtown makeover" slated for this year. The town will be focusing its community-based efforts on creativity, sustainability and honoring local ways of life . The long-term vision is to create a vibrant arts community and to attract artists and art lovers to the area. Organizers of that event hope that visitors will follow yet another of Minnie Pearl's country suggestions, "Take the back roads instead of the highways."

The Minnie Pearl Statue can be seen in her temporary location at the Commodore Hotel Linden, 114 East Main Street, Linden, Tennessee or visit http://www.commodorehotellinden.com

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Michael Dumont
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