Eiffel Tower that now stands in Paris, Tennessee, had its origin at
Christian Brothers University in Memphis. Designed to scale, it was
created by Dr. Tom
Morrison, professor emeritus of civil engineering; Jim Jacobs, assistant
professor of mechanical engineering; and Roland Raffinati, engineering
lab technician. Its 500 pieces of Douglas fir and 6,000 steel rods were
assembled in CBU's Buckman Quadrangle through more than 10,000 hours
donated by students, faculty, alumni, and friends of the University.
In April of
1991 the Paris-Henry County Chamber of Commerce sponsored "Paris
U.S.A.," inviting the mayors of the 14 other U.S. cities named for the
home of the original Eiffel Tower, to Tennessee to draw national
attention to these communities as places of special charm and
personality. During the two-day visit representatives of 5 of these U.S.
cities and of Paris, France, toured the area and enjoyed its
Paris U.S.A. promotion, Brother Patrick O'Brien of Christian Brothers
University contacted the Paris Henry County Chamber of Commerce in the
fall of 1991 to inquire about the City of Paris's possible interest in
having the Eiffel Tower replica donated to it. With the encouragement of
Mayor Richard L. Dunlap III and the City Commission, Virgil Wall
(Chamber Executive Director), George Moore (City Manager), and Harold
Plumley met with CBU officials in Memphis, and the City Commission
subsequently voted to accept the donation. In February of 1992, the
Tower, having been dismantled by the University, was loaded on a flatbed
truck and brought to Paris by employees of the City's Public Works
Department. While the City Commission deliberated on a proper location
for the Tower, its many parts were given two coats of paint and readied
for rebirth in a new home.
decision was made to locate the Tower in the City's Memorial Park off
Volunteer Drive, employees of the Public Works Department set about
assembling its parts and constructing a circular brick wall to surround
its base. With the Tower in place, it was dedicated on January 29, 1993,
in the presence of City of Paris officials, representatives of Christian
Brothers University, and other local citizens. It was a happy occasion
for publicly recognizing the University's gesture of generosity and
goodwill and for officially acknowledging the City's appreciation of it.
Set in the brick wall is a plaque noting:
TOWER DONATED BY
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS UNIVERSITY
MEMPHIS, TN 1992
efforts of John Hammett and U.S. Congressman John Tanner, a U.S. flag
that has flown over the nation's capitol flies atop the Tower.
Spotlights illuminate the structure at night, adding to its beauty.
Striking as its
physical presence is, the Eiffel Tower basks in even greater glory as a
symbol of liberty and equality, ideals that sparked the French
Revolution and that many believe were inspired by the success of the
American Revolution just a few years earlier. Who among us can fail to
recall the now historic words of Patrick Henry (for whom Henry County
was named in 1821), who,
when addressing the
Virginia Convention in March of 1775 in support of resolutions for armed
resistance to the British, concluded, "I know not what course others may
take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! "
Franco-American bond in the fight for liberty had its beginning just two
years later, in 1777, when a young French aristocrat from Paris, the
Marquis de Lafayette, brought his own ship and sailed to America to join
George Washington's staff as an unpaid volunteer. After several command
assignments, it was in October of 1781 that he earned the undying
gratitude of the new nation when his Continental Army force of' less
than 2,000 trapped Lord Cornwallis's force of 6,000 at Yorktown,
Virginia, leading to the British surrender. After his return to France
he continued his fight for liberty during the French Revolution and
throughout his life, being hailed as "the hero of two worlds." The City
of Paris, Tennessee, incorporated in 1823, was named in his honor and
today, remembering his achievements, recognizes distinguished individual
accomplishment by conferring the title of "Marquis de Paris."
therefore, particularly fitting that another Eiffel Tower, an enduring
symbol of liberty and equality, now stands tall and proud in the City of
Paris and County of Henry, in the volunteer State of Tennessee. Viva two
towers, two worlds!