Dunn doesn’t want Cordell Hull Building named after him

Former Gov. Winfield Dunn awaits the start of the of the inauguration of Gov. Bill Lee in Nashville on Jan. 19, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A proposal to rename the Cordell Hull Building after former Gov. Winfield Dunn sparked a round of self-congratulation among Republicans in the state House. But key members of the Senate were less enthralled by the idea. And now Dunn himself is asking the legislature not to go through with it.

The Daily Memphian’s Sam Stockard spoke to Dunn about the proposal on Monday.

“I was very surprised to learn what the representative had undertaken to do,” Dunn told the publication. “It seems so completely out of proportion to the historical context of our state. I personally consider Cordell Hull to be an unblemished representative of what Tennessee is. I expressed my reservations to the legislator.”

Dunn was governor from 1971 to 1975, serving at a time when incumbents weren’t allowed to run for re-election. Dunn took another swing at the governor’s office in 1986, but fell short to then-House Speaker Ned Ray McWherter (D-Dresden).

State Rep. Ron Gant (R-Rossville) last month announced plans to name the building Dunn. The facility has been named after Cordell Hull, the country’s longest-serving secretary of state, since it was first constructed in the 1950s.

Dunn is a Republican, while Nobel Peace Prize-winning Hull was a Democrat. Dunn became Tennessee’s first Republican governor in 48 years when he was elected in 1970.

So is Dunn’s demurral the end of the renaming effort? Not according to Gant.

“Anybody who thinks a building should be named after themselves probably isn’t worthy of such an honor,” he said in a statement. “Governor Dunn does not have an over-inflated sense of self worth like many politicians in this day and age. Former Gov. Dunn is a humble man and was a dedicated servant for our state. It is not surprising he is hesitant of this honor being bestowed upon him.”

13 Responses to Dunn doesn’t want Cordell Hull Building named after him

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    Silence Dogood says:

    The Legislature needs to deal with Governor Lee and the Refugee situation. Not this stuff. Naming a building after someone should be done after they pass away. A memorial type of thing. Get back to work!!!

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    Gene Gantt says:

    Governor Dunn is a fine man and I respect him for this.

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    Cannoneer2 says:

    Every year, something like this gets brought forth, and the whole General Assembly goes off the tracks. Nothing of any importance will get done, and the Tennessee taxpayer will get stuck with the bill.

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    David Collins says:

    I am not a bit surprised by Governor Dunn’s position. Say what you will about him but he always seemed able to keep things in a proper perspective, unlike so many of our modern day egoists that hold office–on both sides of the aisle.

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    Mel says:

    Get to work with important things, like illegal immigration, stopping dims from taking away our gun rights, stopping the slave sex trade, stopping muslem laws from being implemented, insurance civerage of U.S. citizens not illegials. And many more issues.

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    David Jenkins says:

    Good for Gov. Dunn! It is very petty to try and rename a building like this because of party affiliation! Just how many Nobel Peace Prize winners does Tennessee have?

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    Randy T Hendon says:

    Good call Governor Dunn! I do not like the renaming of structures , parks and other memorials under any circumstance. Cordell Hull was a great Tennessean and the building name should stay intact. Just like the General Forrest bust should remain in the State Capitol – Forrest was the greatest Warrior in Tennessee history. Living in Memphis- I have seen first hand the desecration of the Forrest grave site and the removal of the Statue of President Jefferson Davis and the Headstone/ Statue of Nathan Bedford Forrest. This type of action is UnAmerican and Tennessee should not permit it! Where will it end? Our American/ Southern Culture is under attack!

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    Judy Martin-Urban, President PCH&GS says:

    Many members of the local Pickett County Historical & Genealogical Society have written in rejection of the renaming. We hope someone will listen.

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    Betty Bean says:

    “Forrest was the greatest Warrior in Tennessee history.”

    If this was about honoring the greatest warrior in Tennessee history, Alvin York’s bust would be sitting in that alcove and there wouldn’t be a word of complaint.

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      Randy Hendon says:

      General Forrest is in a League by himself ! Study your history – York was a great man but no comparison in terms of accomplishments – only President Andrew Jackson could be a runner up to
      Forrest – don’t let your politics cloud your judgement or opinion regarding Tennessee history.

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    Julie Richardson says:

    My grandmother (Royce Cox) worked for the finance and taxation department’s inheritance tax division. She and a few other ladies are the ones who made the suggestion of naming the Cordell Hull Building. The newspaper wrote an article about it and I have the clipping. I hope they don’t change it.

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