McCrory's Gift Provides Home to Young Professionals

November 3, 2015
Enhancing the Sewanee Experience

Inside view of McCrory House communal living space

Mike Gardner shows off the shared kitchen in the McCrory House. Residents lease their private bedroom and bath and share communal living spaces in the home.

For her 95th birthday (August 15), Martha McCrory, retired longtime director of the Sewanee Summer Music Festival, turned around the usual practice and made a gift to the University of the South of her home on Mississippi Avenue. That gift is already in service as a shared home for single faculty, seminary students, and others who need medium-term housing for one or two people. In urban areas, the concept is known as an a-POD-ment, where each resident has a lease and pays rent on a bedroom while sharing kichen and communal living space with the other residents.

“We are very grateful to Ms. McCrory for this gift,” said Mike Gardner, director of physical plant services. “Housing on a growing campus is a big challenge, and the McCrory House will give us flexible space that can help us address the needs of newcomers to Sewanee, whether they are seminarians or short-term faculty appointments or single staff.”

McCrory worked in the administration of four Vice-Chancellors, developing the Sewanee Summer Music Festival into a tradition at Sewanee and serving generations of aspiring young musicians. An essay on the history of the festival published on the Sewanee Music Festival website puts her contribution in perspective:

Present at the creation was a young cellist of extraordinary capacities named Martha McCrory. In the early years, McCrory filled many roles: faculty cellist, business manager, and recruiter, barnstorming her way across back roads in Alabama and Georgia in search of students. McCrory became executive director of the Center in 1963, and remained at this post for a remarkable tenure, retiring in 1998. During the 1960s, the Center expanded dramatically under McCrory’s leadership; and by the end of that decade had more or less assumed its present structure: two student orchestras and a festival orchestra composed of faculty and advanced students.

The present Festival continues the vision of McCrory in its focus on student development and its unique devotion to chamber music performance.

A few weeks before her birthday, McCrory was present at Sewanee to celebrate her birthday. Current director Katie Lehman cued the music, and two students blew out the candles up on stage. It was a joyous event, recognizing a pioneer in music education in Middle Tennessee.

Now this magnificent gift from a woman whose career has already meant so much to Sewanee will help the University provide high quality housing for young professionals and students.