Johnson’s History Center renovated for 125th anniversary

KNOXVILLE— Johnson University is celebrating its 125 year anniversary, and one part of commemorating this special occasion was the redesigning of the Phillips-Welshimer building’s History Center.

Director of Human Resources at Johnson University, Leslie Bean became a part of the Quasquicentennial Celebratory Committee. With an education in history and museum studies, Bean lead in the creating ideas for the exhibits for the 125th.

There are three categories of the committee: events, publication, and exhibits. From Cabinet members to staff and faculty, a wide range of people were chosen to be involved.

“They were picking people who could help put things in place to celebrate the 125th,” Bean said.


Bean said the committee began meeting in the summer of 2016, and knew they wanted to do something with the History Center, but nothing was decided then.

“This room was set up before for the 100th anniversary,” said Bean. “So not much had changed over the past twenty-five years.”


The History Center’s established usage and ideal placement meant that it was was overdue for an update.

“As neat and interesting as the artifacts in this room were, they didn’t really tell the story of Johnson,” Bean said. “We wanted a space close to the auditorium where most of the events were being held.”


Bean made plans with Facilities and met with the Committee about the progress. Bean said it took about a year to nail down the plans for this room, and renovations began in October of 2017.

“Jonathan Robinson, and Facilities really helped spearhead all the physical renovations,” Bean said. “Facilities really had a big part in putting this room together.”

Her and Mark Young put together the videography features such as the Smart TV of the History Center.


Inspired by East Tennessee’s History Center, Bean said that they wanted to change the name to reflect the change in the room’s functionality and purpose.

“Traditionally this room was referred to as the Historical Room, and it was in memory of the Johnson’s,” Bean said. “We wanted something more functional, a room that would tell the story of the place…I also wanted a room that could be used for multiple events.”


Having opened for homecoming, and to be used for Senior Saints workshops, Bean hopes that this center is the beginning for future exhibits.

“It will remain as an exhibit space,” Bean said. “But I hope that after we have other projects completed such as the ARK we will be able to have more exhibits.”

The History Center will continue to serve as a functional room designed for multiple uses for Johnson. It is open during the week for anyone to discover Johnson’s history.


Leave a Reply