A Pocket-Sized and Gracious Home

May 13, 2019

One hot late summer afternoon, Robert Black, C’89, associate vice president for advancement, visited with Lessley and Bob Hynson, C’67, at Gailor Cabin, a short stroll down University Avenue from his office at Thompson Union. The cabin is tucked away on North Carolina Avenue near the ravine. Charlotte’s garden was blooming, the fountain gurgled above the bird bath, and he was greeted warmly by the Hynsons.

The Hynsons are the current stewards of Gailor Cabin, and they have effected, with the help of a genius local builder, Pete Mollica, a magnificent renovation, if that word can be used for a one-room cabin. A tour is followed by drinks on the porch (gin and bourbon) and a long talk about literature, philosophy, art, life in the Hynsons’ home of Laurel, Mississippi, and the characters who populate the most Southern of the owning dioceses of the University of the South—part Yoknapatawpha, part Grisham. It’s a prototypically Sewanee scene.

Among other generous gifts to the University, the Hynsons are donating the cost of the cabin renovations to the University. Sewanee is also a principal beneficiary of their estate, and the couple has otherwise been generous supporters over the years, including a lead gift to a scholarship in memory of Bob’s classmate, Bert Polk, C’67.

Another scholarship, to be created through the estate, will give preference to students from Ireland, where they were long-term leaseholders of a home, which they have since donated back as a cultural resource.

“When I saw Gailor Cabin, I just knew I had to live in it,” says Lesslye. The couple negotiated the renovation gift with the vice-chancellor, a gift-in-kind valued at over $200,000.

“The Hynsons are wonderful partners,” says Black. “They are not only generous with their treasure, but they are also generous with their time, helping us connect with others and build the partnerships that are critical to the future of the institution.”