2010 – 1891 Fehn’s House Ornament




This building is also known as St. Genevieve’s Academy, and was built during the time of the Dayton Coal and iron Company. The house has had an interesting past, and has known many exciting people and events over the past years.

When the Cincinnati and Southern railroad was being built from Cincinnati to Chattanooga during 1860-1880, most of the railroad workers hired were Irish Catholic. During the construction of the railroad, some English and Scottish business men came from England to Tennessee because they had purchased large mineral and timber lands close to Smith’s Cross Roads (later named Dayton). This group organized the Dayton Coal and Iron Company after the railroad was opened in 1880; and brought some skilled workers from the north, many of whom were also Catholic. In addition, the superintendent of the Dayton Coal and Iron Company, Mr. George Jamme, was a devout Catholic, and had two children to educate.

Mr. Jamme was responsible for the first Catholic Church and school being built in Smith’s Cross Roads. In 1888 a plot of ground was obtained from the Dayton Coal and Iron Company (for the sum of $1.00) for the building of the Catholic Church, and another plot obtained for the establishment of an academy for boarding and day students. This educational facility was opened in February of 1891 and was the three-story frame house which stands today. The building included apartments for the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth (Nazareth, Kentucky) and two well-equipped school rooms. This school was located close to the church on the same lot and was named St. Genevieve’s Academy, which was also the name of the church. (1891 is a few years after the War Between the States!)

After the Dayton Coal and Iron Company fell into hard times, many of the workers left the area to find employment in other places. At that time, Mr. Jamme also left, and the church and school lost their best supporter. The school closed permanently in 1896 and the church closed in 1903. All the church property was sold to Mr. Henry Jones, the father of seven children, who had worked for the Dayton Coal and Iron Company. Two of Mr. Jones’ children, Daisy Jones Morgan and J. Mack Jones, attended the academy. The school was remodeled in order to be used as a home by Mr. Jones and Mrs. Lillie Fitzgerald (Miss Lil), one of Mr. Jones’ daughters. Mrs. Fitzgerald lived in the house until her death in June of 1975. In 1976 the house was sold to Mr. James Abel, and then it was purchased by Mary Brooks in 1992. After that, Don and Colleen Fehn bought the house in 2004 to be used as a restaurant. They have since sold the business.


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