In the Beginning
In 1972, women had just been admitted to The University of the South and VC McCrady thought there should be a needlework shop for them. My mother told me that's how the idea began. She opened The Lemon Fair that year on Georgia Avenue on the corner where Humphreys Hall now stands, selling pottery that she made in her studio behind our garage, needlework, and wooden bowls & toys from VT, where the Lemon Fair River once inspired her.
In 1978 she bought the present location on University Ave., formerly Arthur Long's General Merchandise Store. By then, the needlework was minimal and the artwork was growing. For years the store served as a place to buy local pottery and jewelry, glass orbs, Indian clothing & tapestries and Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries.
The Lemon Fair remains the longest continually owned business in Sewanee.
Those Crazy 80s
My mother, Gay Alvarez, was constantly creative. She wove baskets, worked in stained glass, painted anything she could get her hands on, wrote rhymes, baked birthday cakes for students and is best known for her pottery and jewelry. She attended classes & workshops and avidly supported other artists, filling The Lemon Fair with an eclectic collection of hand made, one of a kind pieces. In later years, her focus was primarily southern folk art.
In the mid 80s, Mom became rather obsessed with angels. She needed a Sewanee Angel legend. Please see FAQ for the complete evolution of the angel legend. Around this time, Christi Teasley SAS '83, fresh out of college, created many of the designs we still use today on mugs, posters, aprons, cards, coasters....
The angel legend received a copyright and in the new millennium "Protected By a Sewanee angel" was trademarked.
Life Goes On
In February, 2016, following the death of my mother, I retired from 19 years of running Stirling's Coffee House at the University & took over The Lemon Fair.
My first course of action was structural work to the building which has seen a lifetime of Sewanee history. My sister, Julia SAS '93 & I collaborated to create new Sewanee angel merchandise, incorporating our mother's art with other vintage designs and adding a fresh touch. My father, Laurence Alvarez C'59, now owns the business, grants me precious leeway & is my CFO.
The new floor plan is open and the atmosphere light & happy with room to wander or wait. Children are encouraged to play with toys for sale. There are dorm decorations, beautiful cards & fabric, premium chocolate & snacks, products from alumni such as Thistle Farms & Savannah Bee, silly gifts for men, and always - local pottery, jewelry, tapestries, and angels. I hope you enjoy.
-- Katherine Alvarez Evans