Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza dedication May 7

Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza — named for the Town’s third Mayor and one of its founding fathers — will finally be dedicated Friday, May 7, in an event open to the public starting at 5:30 p.m., with the dedication beginning at 6 p.m.

The Plaza, consisting of the grounds surrounding the historic Campbell Station Inn at the corner of Kingston Pike and Campbell Station Road, was completed in late 2020, and initial plans to dedicate it in December were scrapped due to lingering COVID-19 concerns.

Finally rescheduled, the May 7 ceremony will honor Dr. McGill, who was instrumental in leading the Farragut Community Group’s mission for incorporation as well as being key in pursuing the Town’s acquisition of the Campbell Station Inn itself during his mayoral tenure from April 2009 until his passing in June 2018.

A slate of guest speakers honoring Dr. McGill and his accomplishments will include fellow Farragut Community Group members Marianne McGill, who is also Ralph’s widow and one of the Town’s first aldermen; and fellow FCG members Betty Dick, who has long served on the Town’s Municipal Planning Commission; and Eric Johnson, who was also one of the Town’s first aldermen.

Other speakers will be FMPC chair Rita Holladay, former Town Alderman and Vice Mayor Dot LaMarche; and Jim Nixon, prominent area developer and Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance Board member.

Music and light refreshments will conclude the ceremony.

Nixon became involved in the acquisition of the Inn at McGill’s request, he said, noting the structure also has been known as the Russell House, as the Russell family owned it before it was purchased by the Town in 2013.

He said the Russell family was working with Harry Thayer (now deceased) of Dean Smith Realty on the sale.

“There were others interested in buying the house,” Nixon said. “I believe a bank and a drug store were both interested,” noting if either had been successful “it would have required the house to be torn down.

“I think at that point, Ralph and Marianne stepped in to try to keep that from happening and save the house.”

Nixon also helped negotiate the payment plan between the Town and the Russells, which paid out over a three-year period.

“I’m very proud of my part in making that happen, and certainly the end result,” Nixon said. “It’s beautiful, and one of the very few historical features in Farragut — it’s certainly the most prominent, being located where it is.”

The Plaza itself is lighted, features park-like open areas, paver parking, extensive landscaping, outdoor benches and a freestanding restroom. The property was first utilized during the holidays, with several animated light sculptures, including an oversized Santa’s sleigh and reindeer highlighting its expansive green space.

The project was the third phase of the Campbell Station Inn’s ongoing improvement timeline. Phase 1 was the master site plan design and asbestos abatement, and Phase 2 restored and stabilized the exterior, a Town press release stated. A fourth phase will begin when Town officials determine the best repurposing of the Inn, which is currently is not open to the public.