Morgan Street Property

William P Smith Finishing School - 115 Morgan Street

The William P Smith Finishing School at 115 Morgan Street, William Payne Smith was the son of Colonel William Payne Smith and Eliza Jane Wiley. A descendant of Meriwether Smith, a prominent Kingston family. His mother, Eliza Jane Wiley, the oldest child of wealthy Henry Howard Wiley. In 1872 he married Mary Jane Mitchell, the daughter of wealthy banker and farmer Joseph Gould Mitchell of Sparta.


William P. Smith was a Minister of the Gospel & School Teacher and in the 1880's he settled in Oliver Springs where his mother, Eliza Jane Wiley Mitchell had returned after the death of her second husband, Jabez Gilead Mitchell. In the 1880's William P Smith would erect a fine school building on Morgan Street which became known as the Smithsonian Institute. It served as a finishing school for the students from the many smaller area schools. It prepared students in the social graces as well as for the entrance to colleges and the University of Tennessee. At certain periods of the year, it was organized as a "normal school, or teacher's institute." Mrs. Mamie Sienknecht and Mrs. Sadie Phillips attended this finishing school.


The school building was later bought by Benjamin Wright Bradford of New York City after William P Smith's death. Benjamin Bradford had come to Oliver Springs to get into the coal business. He had joint interest in certain coal operations with Dr. Robert A McFerrin. These two men also built and operated the Bradford-McFerrin Pharmacy in a two story frame building on the site next to the present day Post Office on Springs Street. He had it remodeled into a mansion with elegant furniture. Benjamin Wright Bradford was a descendant of William Bradford, the first Governor of Plymouth Rock. Benjamin Wright Bradford was the son of Nathaniel G Bradford, a pioneer banker in New York. Benjamin Wright Bradford was also a member for many years of the New York Stock exchange. He married Julia Henrietta Gerding of Wartburg. Two of their children were born in Oliver Springs, they were delivered by Dr. Joseph P. Walker. The Bradfords sold the home to Otis and Janice Gross and moved to Atlanta, Georgia by 1910. Later it was home to Dan and Barbara Palmer. The home has sold in recent years.