Clay County

Clay County was created on June 16, 1870, and was named in honor of the Kentucky statesman Henry Clay.

Historic Sites

Photo of the Cumberland & Obey River Convergence
Cumberland & Obey River Convergence - Clay County, TN

The convergence of the Cumberland River with the Obey River at Celina is of great historical significance for the Upper Cumberland Region. During the initial settlement of the state of Tennessee, this location was used to load and ship timber both down the Cumberland River to Nashville and up the Cumberland River to Cincinnati. Stories from local residents tell of people from this region rafting logs all the way down to Nashville. After the timber had been unloaded, the log rafters would reportedly make the trek back to Celina on foot, taking several days. The historical significance of the Celina landing should be highlighted and promoted through the development of the byway.

Clay County Courthouse - Celina, TN

The Clay County Courthouse was listed on the NRHP in 1977 for its architectural significance as a local interpretation of the Italianate style. In addition, the building is historically significant for its association with the governmental history of Clay County. Located in Celina, the Clay County Courthouse was constructed in 1873 and has served as the center of county politics and government for over 130 years. As such, it has the unusual distinction among courthouses in Tennessee, as the first and only courthouse to have been constructed in the county.

Clay County High School (old)/Celina High School

Clay County High School, the first public secondary school in the county, was established by the Clay County Board of Education in 1919. In 1933, the timber frame building was replaced with a larger two-story brick structure, and the name of the school was changed to Celina High School. A separate brick gymnasium was constructed on the campus in 1949. In 1955, a modern new two-story school with an auditorium in one wing and a cafeteria in the basement was built on the same site as the previous school. Celina High School closed in 2003 with the opening of the new Clay County High School.

Cordell Hull Law Office

The Cordell Hull Law Office seen today has been moved many times and has changed from a three-room building to two. Cordell Hull used the building as a law office in 1891. After a stint with the U.S. Army, including service in the Spanish-American War, Hull returned to Celina in 1901. He was elected special judge by the Clay County Bar and then elected judge in April 1903. He was then appointed judge by Governor Frazier and elected to the same position in August of the same year. After serving as a U.S. Representative from Tennessee, Hull became the longest-serving U.S. Secretary of State in the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration (1933-1944). Cordell Hull is best known as the Father of the United Nations and as a recipient of the 1945 Nobel Peace Prize.

Maple Grove School

Isolated from the rest of Clay County by Dale Hollow Lake, Maple Grove School is currently the smallest public school in Tennessee, with approximately 35 students and three teachers for grades K-8. The school was established in 1936 with 32 students. In 1942, the student population of Maple Grove School tripled in size when Willow Grove, Fairview, and Pleasant Shade Schools closed with the formation of Dale Hollow Lake. This growth led to the building of the current facility in 1953-54. After peaking for several years at 80-90 students, the student population began to decline in the 1970s.

Montvale Academy

Montvale Academy was organized April 13, 1882, by Isaiah Fitzgerald, A.P. Green, John H. McMillan, J.H. Stephens, V.P. Smith, and William Love. Montvale Academy was an outstanding private school. Many of its students became doctors, lawyers, judges, and teachers. Two of the most noted graduates were Congressman Cordell Hull and Governor Benton McMillan. Cordell Hull was instrumental in helping to create the United Nations and was Secretary of State under Franklin Roosevelt. Hull was also awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The building that was Montvale Academy is the present day Upton Funeral Home.

Cherry's Grocery Store

Around 1939 Herman and Bethel Gas built a building for a restaurant at the point of three roads converging and leading to Celina, Red Boiling Springs, and Tompkinsville, KY - thus the name, "3-Way In." After a year or two the building was bought by Winnie Cherry and turned into a country grocery store. In the late 1960's William Cherry bought the store from Winnie. It is the only true "country store" remaining in Clay County.

Hermitage Springs Bank Vault

The original building was a bank owned by J. W. Green of Hermitage Springs. When the bank closed, the building was used as a grocery store, a beauty shop and other businesses. The building was demolished in the late 1970's or early 1980's, and the cement bank vault was left standing.

Hugh Roberts Historical Marker

Hugh Roberts – The marker is located in Celina and identifies the location of a house constructed by Hugh Roberts between 1780 and 1782. Roberts was a Pennsylvania Quaker that migrated to the area to avoid military service.

McColgan Home

The McColgan Home was built in 1858 by Dr. Wilson McColgan (1825-1910) of brick fabricated by slaves who lived on the farm. The home had 14 rooms—five of which had fireplaces—a basement, and three chimneys. The walls of the home were four bricks thick. The McColgan family named the community of Arcot for their ancestral home in Scotland.

Rock Springs Church of Christ

The Congregation got its name from the beautiful streams of clear cold water gushing from between huge layers of limestone. The church was organized the first Sunday in January 1805. It is believed to be the oldest, continuously existing Church of Christ in America.