Q&A: Mary Lynne Bell, co-resident manager of the Sam Houston Historic Schoolhouse

With her husband, Bob, Mary Lynne Bell is co-resident manager of the Sam Houston Historic Schoolhouse in Maryville, and will direct its March 3 celebration of Houston's birthday and the 200th anniversary of his teaching at the schoolhouse.

What is Sam Houston's association with this schoolhouse?

When Sam Houston was 19, he taught in the one-room schoolhouse located on our historic site. We will have a "School Marm" located in the schoolhouse to teach classes as Sam taught his students in 1812.

What is your connection with it?

My husband Bob and I have been the resident managers here since April, 2006.

How long has the museum been open? And has the schoolhouse been restored, or just there all along?

The museum is located inside the building with the gift shop, the first building visitors come to when they arrive on site. It's two rooms and is loaded with items of interest and history of Sam Houston's life and times in Tennessee as well as Texas. It has been open since the 1980s. This property of about five acres was purchased in the 1940s and the first restoration was done in the 1950s. The schoolhouse was built in 1794, two years before Tennessee was a state, by the Andrew Kennedy family who owned all of this land surrounding and including the schoolhouse. He built it to give a place to educate both his children and neighboring children. Blount County only had one school at that time, located near Maryville College; it was named Porter Academy.

Do you have anything special planned for Saturday?

Demonstrators will be set up throughout the grounds helping to educate visitors in various pioneer skills and trades. Some of the demonstrations will include making dip candles, Revolutionary War reenactors, Native American reenactors with bows, and blow-gun making. There will also be a display of old fashioned tools, finger-weaving belts, and much more. In the museum there will be guides and lectures given all day. Admission is free, but donations would be appreciated.

What kind of food will you sell—ordinary treats, or historical in some way?

The food will be simple hot dogs, desserts, and drinks—and fresh popcorn.

What will you wear?

Most of the people here will be in period dress—the simple long dress and dust bonnet that country folk wore in the 1790s and 1800s.

Will you speak in Texas accents?

We have a couple of board members who will be on site who retired here from Texas, so your answer: There will be accents for all.

The 200th anniversary celebration will be held March 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 3650 Old Sam Houston School Rd. in Maryville. For more info: samhoustonhistoricschoolhouse.org