Stroud Gwynn Field adjacent to main office
One of Lebanon's iconic athletic venues will soon become a memory when Wilson Bank & Trust breaks ground on a nearly 60,000 square-feet operations building on Stroud Gywnn Field -- longtime home of Castle Heights Military Academy football, soccer and track & field.
When completed, some 200 bank employees will move into the new structure.
Located just behind the bank's main office on West Main St., the field and surrounding cinder track is roughly 114 years old, having been used for athletic competition, drills, parades and bivouacs since the school opened in 1902.
Despite the honor military academy closing its doors back in 1986, the field never ceased to be used as a practice facility by local junior pro and adult football teams, youth, high school and collegiate soccer, Frisbee enthusiasts and softball teams.
The annual Relay for Life has called the facility home since the event's inception. Held June 10, the 2016 relay for Life raised nearly $60,000 for the American Cancer Society with the WB&T team far and away raising the most money -- some $37,000.
"Wilson Bank & Trust has owned Stroud Gwynn Field for well over 25 years," said Rob Hosier, President of the Castle Heights Alumni Association.
"(Bank President) Randall Clemmons has been more than generous with the field, allowing both our alumni association and the public access to the field and track.
"Mr. Clemmons met with us and told us pretty much what we already knew. The bank is planning on expanding and they originally bought the field for that specific purpose."
Plans call for a three-story complex to be built with an exterior designed to mirror the look of the former McFadden Auditorium, which was leveled several years ago.
The field was named for longtime CHMA football coach and athletic director Robert "Stroud" Gwynn.
A member of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, Coach Gwynn headed the Tiger football program from 1947 to 1972.
The field was dedicated in his honor on a rainy Saturday afternoon Oct. 30, 1976 when the Heightsmen rallied to defeat arch-rival Columbia Military Academy.
"In a driving rainstorm, we drove 85 yards in the last four minutes to score," said Dan Winfree, who quarterbacked that squad.
The win over CMA marked the final Saturday home game for the Tigers, who went on to a regular Friday night TSSAA schedule of games in the ensuing years.
"When I think of memorable events on Stroud Gwynn Field, I think more about memorable relationships since school life there was so interconnected," said former CHMA coach Bill Bryson.
"I coached and taught there from fall 1971 to spring of 1979," Bryson said.
"Today, I hear the term 'legend' thrown around rather casually when it comes to describing sports figures of the past.
"When it comes to coaching, Stroud Gwynn truly is a legend.
"His success not only in the number of wins, but the number of athletes he coached who went on to play at the college level is exceptional."