by Robert Beeland
On Monday July 10, Residential Life Area Coordinator Benuel Post was performing a routine inspection of a set of rooms in Tuckaway Hall. In the closet of one room he was inspecting, Post uncovered a literal doorway into Sewanee’s past.
The door leading into the “Cash Corner.” All photos courtesy of Benuel Post.
“I was [checking around] and felt the floor move,” remarked Post before finding a small, hidden door underneath a patch of carpeting.
Post descended into the hollow and found, “wrapped around a full Miller Lite can with what appeared to be a semi-decomposed sports bra,” a makeshift charter for the “Cash Corner.”
“To the fine fellows of Tuckaway [room number redacted],” the note began, “if you found this, you are now a part of the Cash Corner.” Apparently a kind of hidden lair for illicit activity, the Cash Corner doubly served to its excavator Post as a time capsule. “You could probably do some archeological work down there. I found beer cans from like five different decades,” explained Post.
A note found by Post.
“Sex, drugs, rock + roll…,” the note continued, “blackout or [expletive] backout [sic].” According to Post, the Cash Corner code of conduct appeared to have been at least partially obeyed by its patrons—the room’s contents included a variety of empty beer cans and liquor bottles. Additionally, “[s]omeone even left some origami geese on a ledge with their names on them,” revealed inspector Post.
The room as it was discovered by Post.
Originally serving as the Tuckaway Inn, the building was built in 1929. Having undergone many repairs and renovations over the years, the Cash Corner’s covert caverns potentially housed different plumbing fixtures over the years until its most recent incarnation as a subterranean speakeasy. “It’s a piece of Sewanee history,” remarked 2016-2017 Tuckaway Proctor Casey Quinn (C’18).
As of today, the Cash Corner’s future is uncertain. “I’ll probably have to shut the Cash Corner down,” explained Post. While the Sewanee Residential Guide to living does not explicitly prohibit the establishment of anarchistic underground saloons, it does outline that “[o]pened containers of alcoholic beverages (including cups and glass bottles) are forbidden in all public areas of residence halls,” a regulation within the boundaries of which the Cash Corner might well fit. Post, however, explains that a more dastardly plan might be enacted: “[m]aybe I’ll just booby trap it.”
Interesting, but not unique. There are, or were, other such spaces, some of which were far more elaborate.
I find it odd that anyone would care to drink in such a dark and dank dungeon when drinking in public is permitted in so man areas of campus. Or at least that was the case in the early ’70s. A very odd find indeed! I would love to see the various bottles and cans from the past decades though, but wonder why they weren’t deposited in trash or recycling bins.
I also find it somewhat saddening that open bottles and cans are not permitted in public areas of resident halls. How can you have a hall party with such a rule, or head up to your room when you arrive at the front door and haven’t yet finished off your fifth of Jack?
The various bottles and cans from the past decades were probably left as souvenirs or to contribute to the ‘time capsule’ purpose. Also, the rule prohibiting bottles and cans in public areas of resident halls is put in place to prevent underage drinking (which everyone knows happens anyways, but the university has to save face in certain areas on campus). It also serves to protect students who don’t want to drink underage (less peer pressure if their dorm is a place where alcohol is not allowed). Hidden areas like this are common in every dorm. RA’s bust underage students all the time. They need a place to hide their booze and drugs!
I lived in Tuckaway for 4 years… what room # was this?
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