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It’s a tale of education and home with the University of Tennessee System woven throughout.
Now a 16-foot by 65-foot “Everywhere you look, UT” mural proclaims that story on the side of the building that’s home to the 128-year-old Chase Drugs & Clinical Services.
Harriman City Manager Kevin Helms discovered the UT System mural opportunity and wanted to bring it to town. Already familiar with UT through the assistance he receives from UT’s Institute for Public Service, he wanted the mural to encourage middle school and high school students to pursue higher education.
“The more education a person gets, the better their chances are in employment as they go through life,” he said. “Whether it’s going to a vocational school, whether it’s a two-year institution leading to a four-year institution or whether somebody goes straight into a four-year institution, we want to see them go do that, have some fun, get their degree, and then come back home. And, hopefully, we’ve created some opportunities here for them to succeed.”
With Chase Drugs providing the perfect wall for the mural, Helms approached current Chase Drugs owner, Michael Hardin.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to spotlight this area,” Michael said.
His wife Mae Ann Hardin, a 1991 UT Knoxville graduate, agreed.
“Being an alumna, I was super excited that UT was going to be represented in such a unique way here in Roane County,” she said. “I just think it’s wonderful when UT wants to be involved in so many different, small areas in the state of Tennessee—not just in the big cities where you find their programs and universities.”
With a 128-year history of assisting Harriman’s 6,400 residents, Chase Drugs also has many links with UT through those years knitting the two together. UT Health Science Center pharmacy students still arrive in Harriman to learn from Michael. Just as Michael as a high school student learned from Hugh Sliger, a 1950 UTHSC pharmacy graduate, who previously owned Chase Drugs from the 1970s until 1997.
After graduating from the UT Health Science Center in 1950, Hugh joined Chase Drugs. Now in his 90s, he fondly recalls his days turned years and decades of helping the community.
“The people I got to know—everybody that came into town just about came through Chase,” Hugh said.
Hugh’s children, Jan Sliger Fine (a 1981 and 1982 UT Knoxville graduate) and Jeff Sliger (a 1984 UT Knoxville graduate) fondly recall accompanying their father to the store, which featured a soda fountain, and being treated to sundaes, milkshakes, banana splits and hot peanuts. They also enjoyed spending time with the pharmacists who worked with their father and the women working the makeup counter.
“Overall it was a happy place to be,” Jan said. “People came in and out of there for breakfast and had their coffee, and they would have lunch there—best cheeseburgers in town. All of the businessmen would come in and exchange stories. Then the high school kids would come in and hangout.”
Their lives have been tied to UT from the beginning. Their father bought season tickets to the Vols football games in 1958 and family members can still be found in section S, row 31, seats three and four.
“I told my son, who is currently enrolled at the University of Tennessee as a freshman, that in 38 years I want it to be announced that there’s been a Sliger sitting in those same two season ticket seats for over 100 years,” Jeff said.
It was at UT that Jan discovered her life calling at 8 years old when she visited the Speech and Hearing Center on the Knoxville campus with her family after Jeff had an accident that affected his throat.
“Automatically, I knew I was going to grow up and be a speech therapist,” she said of that visit. “Here 38 years later, I’m a speech pathologist graduated from the University of Tennessee.”
And here is where the story of community comes full circle, bringing in the next generation.
Mae Ann’s daughter, Charli Ann Shillings, interned with Jan, learning about speech therapy until COVID-19 moved the internship online. After Charlie Ann graduated from UT Knoxville in May, Jan recruited the recent graduate to work in the Roane County schools.
“I think it goes back to that sense of community. Everywhere you look, UT is there—and not just for me,” said Charlie Ann, who performed in the color guard with Pride of the Southland. “You meet lifelong friends at UT and everywhere you look, you see Volunteers and everyone is just always there to help you.”
Her brother, Gabe Shillings, a senior and member of ROTC, agreed regarding the community formed throughout UT.
“I think it just brings the nickname Vol out. It’s being a full community and circle of help for everyone,” he said.
In Harriman, UT’s mural celebrates a circle of education and community.
“It brings more of that home feeling back in and I think that’s what UT is,” Harriman Mayor Wayne Best said about the University of Tennessee System’s latest mural in the on-going campaign. “It’s like a big home and it’s expanding out and bringing more in.”
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Chase Drugs & Clinical Services
319 N Roane Street
Harriman, TN 37748
Troy Freeman started his mural painting career while still in high school, painting mascots for his and area schools before advancing to sign painting work for local farmers and then founding his own business.
Free Sky Studios, Inc. is a Springfield, Illinois, based professional mural and sign painting business providing commercial and residential clients with a professional source for quality, creative work. With more than 20 years of experience, Troy focuses on delivering quality service marked with exceptional talent and professionalism in every project.
From a 65-foot corn cob to 4-story Frank Lloyd Wright tribute mural, Troy has the experience and expertise to tackle any location we envision.