The Promise Land Community
A legacy of strength, courage and fortitude.
The story begins in 1865 when the community was established and settled by former slaves from the Cumberland Furnace during the Reconstruction Period. In time the community encompassed approximately 1,000 acres with more than 50 homes, several stores, three churches, and an elementary school. “The community, and the church that was built at the center of it, was a sign of hope for her ancestors,” said Serina Gilbert, a descendant of one of the early settlers of Promise Land. At its peak, the Promise Land community had dozens of families, at a time when African Americans weren't allowed to hold prominent roles in many parts of Tennessee. "They had their own stores, they had their own churches... it allowed them the opportunity to be self-sustaining," Gilbert said.
As the Civil Rights Era approached in the mid-1950s, this once thriving community had diminished to only a few remaining families. Today, only the St. John Promise Land Church and the old Promise Land School Building remain.
In 2007 the Promise Land School Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In July 2010 a Civil War Trails Marker was placed on the site of the historic school building in recognition of the Civil War records of John and Arch Nesbitt and their contributions to the community.
At this time, the area and the community's school building are preserved as an educational experience, teaching students and other visitors about Reconstruction-era Tennessee and the hardships of African Americans in the early 1900s.
But Promise Land needs your help; the nearly 100-year-old church building's foundation is sinking, its walls are tilting, and historic pieces of the building are in desperate need of repair. "In order to renovate and restore the Promise Land Church, we need to, at a minimum, raise $75,000," Board member Cate Hamilton said. It's money that Gilbert says can help the community continue to inspire hope. "It still offers promise. Not just for me, but the future, as well."
To give to the Promise Land Community: https://www.promiselandtn.com/support
For the most up-to-date hours and information, please contact Promise Land Community directly.