Thomas P. Westendorf Award

Winner Highlight - Bartlett Historical Society

Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center Board of Advisors awarded the 2016 "Westy" to the Bartlett Historical Society.

The Bartlett Historical Society was founded in 1982 by Elva Talbot Bledsoe who came to Bartlett as the bride of Robert Bledsoe in the early 1930s. Although Mrs. Bledsoe had a family and a job, she always collected newspaper articles and historical memorabilia about Bartlett. By 1982 she and several friends felt there was enough interest in Bartlett history to start a historical society. After 34 years the Bartlett Historical Society remains dedicated to the citizens of Bartlett and are highly respected in our community and across the state.

The Bartlett Historical Society, a nonprofit organization, have accomplished many projects through the years and made significant contributions to the cultural heritage and arts in our community. Some of their more recent projects include maintaining and overseeing the operations of the Bartlett Museum and Gotten House listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a living history presentation spanning multiple decades, shows for quilters, book signings, special art exhibits, flower shows, a historical tour of our city, Eagle Scout projects, and have partnered with the Bartlett Arts Council on a variety of events. Truly, the Bartlett Historical Society has been an active participate and has dedicated much to the arts community within the City of Bartlett. 

Named for one of the early Bartlett’s distinguished citizens, the “Westy” pays tribute to Thomas Westendorf, Superintendent of the Bartlett Training and Industrial School during the years 1907 through 1916. Westendorf, along with his wife Kathleen, educated and entertained “wayward juveniles” from the streets of Memphis and encouraged them to find positive expression and meaning through artistic discipline. They provided youths with musical training, organized performances of light opera, and even created an outstanding concert band for the community’s enjoyment. Himself an accomplished singer and violinist, Westendorf is also known for having composed the music and lyrics of a well-known popular song of the day entitled, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”.

A Cultural Award

Honoring an individual, organization, or business for notable contributions to the cultural life of the City of Bartlett. The Westendorfs are truly a part of Bartlett’s cultural legacy still providing modern-day example of the rewards to be discovered through artistic expression. Nominees for the Westendorf are judged based on their contributions to and positive impact on the arts in Bartlett, however nominees need not necessarily reside within the Bartlett city limits.


Nominations must be submitted to Mr. Michael Bollinger, Director, Bartlett Performing Arts and Conference Center, in person or by mail. To receive a blank copy of the nomination form send an email request to email.

Previous Winners

  • 2001 - Ronnie Randall, Kele & Associates,cultural arts patron
  • 2002 - David Skelton, community advocate for the arts
  • 2003 - Ron Jewell, arts administrator
  • 2004 - Metra Reid, performing arts educator
  • 2005 - Bartlett United Methodist Church, pipe organ restoration
  • 2006 - Will and Laura Beth Mays/ Lucy Opry
  • 2007 - Bartlett Community Concert Band
  • 2009 - Mr. David Chipman & Dr. Carol Chipman, outstanding music teachers
  • 2011 - Dr. Tim Hacker, artist
  • 2013 - Mr. Otis Smith, choreographer
  • 2014 - Mr. & Mrs. Jay & Janette Rainey, community advocate for the arts
  • 2016 - Bartlett Historical Society