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Knox Heritage

Emory Place: A Rich History of Knoxville’s Early Development

Emory Place is a short, two block long, divided street located near the intersection of N. Central Street and N. Broadway. It was developed in 1888 by The Central Market Company, a syndicate chartered to develop a market house for the citizens of the incorporated town of North Knoxville (Fourth and Gill and Old North Knoxville Historic Districts). Emory Place first appears in the Knoxville City Directory in 1889 and was called Central Market.

The Central Market Company built a one-story market house of frame construction that housed 30 stalls. Land to the north and south of the market house was divided into lots for building development. Soon after the construction of the market house it was sold to the City of Knoxville. At this time, the “City Scales” where placed on the west end of the market house and a fire hall was located on the east end.

The monumental growth of North Knoxville was most likely the catalyst of the early development of Central Market. Situated in the center of a rapidly growing section of the city, it became evident that a market house would be a convenient added benefit to those citizens and businesses. Another reason for the Central Market development most likely came from citizens feeling that the market house (built in 1854) on Market Square in downtown Knoxville had become overcrowded and dilapidated.

The Central Market house opened with about a dozen tenants, but it always had several vacancies and listed fewer merchants each year. The market house was short lived and did not prosper, but commercial development around the market house did. Assorted commercial enterprises included Swan Bakery, The Walla Walla Gum Manufacturing Company, W.F. Green & Company, and the Whittle and Spence Trunk Company. Additional businesses along N. Central Street and N. Broadway opened, including produce and grocery stores, liveries, hardware stores, drug stores, saloons, laundries, and a meat market.

In April 1905, due to the market house not being patronized, it was torn down and the space was turned into a public park. The area was renamed Emory Park, in honor of Reverend Isaac Emory, a well-known religious figure in Knoxville who died in the New Market Train Wreck on September 24, 1904.

Emory Place was an important part of Knoxville’s transportation development. The corner of N. Broadway and Tyson Street was the location of the southern terminus of the Fountain Head Railway Company’s steam powered “Dummy Line.” These small trains closely resembled future streetcars in body style. The 5.25 mile track ran from Central Market to Fountain City and opened for business in May 1890. The steam powered “Dummy Line” ran until 1906 when it was replaced by electric streetcars. Emory Place was a key stop along the popular Broadway Line.

In the early 20th century, residential development around Emory Place started, most notably with the construction of rowhouses along W. Fifth Avenue and N. Central Street. The construction of two apartment buildings, The Sterchi and The Lucerne, solidified the area as not only a desirable commercial hub, but also as an attractive residential area.

Increased popularity in the area led to the construction of Knoxville High School, located on E. Fifth Avenue. Constructed in several phases, the main portion of the building was completed in 1910, with additions in 1914 and 1920.

Throughout the 1930s and into the mid-1940s, the area continued to prosper as a hub of commercial activity. A decline began in 1955 when Emory Park was renamed Emory Place and trees planted in 1905 were cut down to make way for parking. A few businesses remained into the 1960s and 1970s, but many eventually closed or relocated. By the early 1980s, many of the buildings were rundown, with only a handful of individuals investing in the area. The City of Knoxville returned some of the areas at Emory Place to its original park-like space in 1989.

During the beginning of the 21st century, the area saw an influx of popularity that grew from individuals wanting to move back into the surrounding historic neighborhoods. This influenced a desire to bring back commercial businesses to the corridor and improve existing buildings. In 2007, the City of Knoxville adopted the Broadway-Central-Emory Place Small Area Plan. This plan provided guidance for redevelopment and included a number of recommendations. Some recommendations included creating a more pedestrian friendly street, encouraging mixed-used development, enhancing stability in the surrounding neighborhood, and improving the aesthetic character of the corridor with façade improvement grants and incentives for redevelopment.

The Emory Place Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. Knox Heritage is currently working on a nomination to expand the district to include buildings along N. Central Street and N. Broadway.

Knox Heritage preserves structures and places of historic or cultural significance for our community. Established in 1974 as a non-profit educational corporation, our organization works to protect and raise awareness of what is beautiful and irreplaceable in East Tennessee.

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Island Home: A Neighborhood Rich in Knoxville History

The iconic South Knoxville neighborhood of Island Home is named after the model farm and the country home of prominent Knoxville resident Perez Dickinson (1813-1901). Dickinson was a Massachusetts-born merchant, banker, farmer, educator, and cousin of poet Emily Dickinson. Perez Dickinson had moved to Knoxville in 1829, where his brother-in-law, Joseph Estabrook, was serving as the principal of the Knoxville Female Academy and later as the president of East Tennessee College (today, the University of Tennessee). After a brief stint as an educator, Dickinson cofounded the mercantile wholesale firm, Cowan and Dickinson, in 1831 and helped established another wholesale firm, Cowan, McClung and Company, in 1858.

In 1869, he purchased more than 600 acres on the south side of the Tennessee River and an island of about 200 acres. He then established a model stock farm (primarily used for research) and agricultural experimental station and called it “Island Home.” A grand Italianate home was built in the early 1870s for his wife, who died before the home was completed. Dickinson was reported to have spent just one night at the house, preferring to sleep at his primary home on Main Street in downtown Knoxville. The Island Home house featured a long, sweeping drive and was surrounded by formal gardens. Dickinson is said to have been gracious in sharing this home with the community. He entertained locals and visiting dignitaries and encouraged various civic groups, organizations, and churches to hold meetings and events at Island Home.

The citizens of Knoxville became even more interested in Island Home after the Gay Street Bridge was constructed in 1898. Before the bridge was completed, a streetcar company was granted an easement to install tracks across the bridge. Prior to streetcar access, South Knoxville had always been fairly isolated from the developing city on the north side of the river.

After Perez Dickinson’s death in 1901, property ownership passed to his family members. In 1905, real estate developer Harry H. Galbraith purchased 300 acres of the farm for $40,000. In April 1911, Island Home Park Company purchased 120 acres from Galbraith, directly west of the original farm gates, for a new residential subdivision. The subdivision featured a convenient streetcar line running down the median of Island Home Boulevard. Large stone entry gateposts, city water, paved streets, concrete sidewalks, electric streetlights, and a public park along the river were other popular selling points. Existing trees were preserved, and additional trees were planted along the boulevard. The neighborhood lies on land that formed the front approach to the Dickinson farm, and Island Home Boulevard follows the path established by the original drive to the home. Initial development growth was concentrated on Island Home Boulevard and Spence Place. The neighborhood residents were middle and upper class business, medical, real estate, and political professionals. Residents included a former Mayor of Knoxville and actor/comedian Archie Campbell.

The craftsman style is the most popular house design represented in the Island Home neighborhood. Typical architectural details include large porches, casement windows, low-pitch gable roofs, tapered columns, dormers, and decorative elements like brackets, lintels, and exposed rafters. The neighborhood also has lovely examples of Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, and American Foursquare architectural styles.

In 1924, the Tennessee School for the Deaf moved to its present campus located at the eastern boundary of the neighborhood after selling their original 1848 downtown Knoxville building to the City of Knoxville for a new City Hall. Perez Dickinson’s Island Home house, although extensively modified from its original design, still exists and serves as the school superintendent’s residence.

Island Home is rich in Knoxville history and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994. The historic district consists of 91 contributing houses along Island Home Boulevard, Spence Place, Fisher Place, and Maplewood Drive. Homes have been well-maintained and continue to represent the pride of ownership that was part of Perez Dickinson’s original vision for his “Island Home.”

Knox Heritage preserves structures and places of historic or cultural significance for our community. Established in 1974 as a non-profit educational corporation, our organization works to protect and raise awareness of what is beautiful and irreplaceable in East Tennessee.

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The Burwell Building and the Curious Case of “The Human Fly”

On April 7, 1918, spectators lined Gay Street to catch a glimpse of George G. Polley, a.k.a. The Original “Human Fly,” attempt a most spectacular stunt – climbing all 10 stories of the 1907 Burwell Building on Gay Street. The climb was in conjunction with the Great Liberty Parade, which was to take place right after the stunt. Polley planned to scale the outside walls by hanging on to crevices in the bricks, window ledges, cornices, and any other projection he could find.

George Polley, a native of Richmond, Virginia, was born in 1897 and grew up a star athlete. His career originated at the age of 12 when a local businessman promised him a new suit if he would climb to the top of his building. Polley was triumphant and never looked back, becoming best known for his “buildering,” work as a vaudeville magician, and raising charitable contributions during World War I.

After arriving in Knoxville on April 5, Polley secured a permit from the City of Knoxville to climb the Burwell Building. Two days later at 1:30 pm, “The Human Fly” began his climb, and within 30 minutes he had reached the top and proceeded to stand on his head with his feet extended over the edge of the roof before scaling the flagpole too! Five thousand people looked on in amazement.

Known throughout the country as “The Human Fly” who risked his life countless times in spectacular climbing stunts, Polley never fell but part of his act was to pretend to slip or lose control. During World War I, he served as an Army sergeant and became nationally known for raising funds for U.S. soldiers overseas, the Salvation Army, and many other charitable organizations here in the States. George Polley is said to have climbed more than 2,000 buildings throughout his short career. His greatest achievement might have been his daring attempt at climbing the Woolworth Building in New York City in 1920. At that time, it was the tallest building in the world at 792 feet. He made it to the 30th floor before being arrested for failing to secure a permit. Sadly, Polley died in 1927 during an operation to remove a brain tumor.

The iconic Burwell Building was built in 1907 as the Knoxville Banking and Trust Building at the corner of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue. It was the tallest building in Knoxville at a height of 166 feet until 1913, when the Holston National Bank was built across the street. The building was designed by the architectural firm of Richards, McCarty, and Bulford of Columbus, Ohio, in the Second Renaissance Revival style. The Knoxville Banking and Trust Company ceased operations in 1912, and the Southern Railway Company established its main Knoxville ticket office in the building’s lobby. In 1917, the C.B. Atkin Realty Company purchased the building and renamed it “Burwell” in honor of Mrs. C.B. Atkin’s family name. Clay Brown Atkin (1864-1931), who at the time was one of Knoxville’s wealthiest citizens, also purchased land for the Tennessee Theatre and an expansion of the Burwell Building.

Since the Burwell was not the tallest building in Knoxville at the time (Polley’s preferred climbing subject), he most likely was asked to scale the building at the request of C.B. Atkin to increase publicity and excitement for his new real estate ventures. “The Human Fly,” however, wasn’t the first to “scale” and stand atop the building. One of the essential members of the construction crew was a mule called Maud – named for a funny comic strip character that would kick someone high into the air at the end of each strip. After the iron work structure was completed on the building in 1907, Maud the Mule was hoisted to a platform at the top of the building to the cheers of thousands of onlookers!

The next time you’re strolling down Gay Street, look up at the Burwell Building. Can you see George Polley swinging from a cornice or window sill? Can you see Maud the Mule being hoisted above the roof? We sure can!

Knox Heritage preserves structures and places of historic or cultural significance for our community. Founded in 1974, Knox Heritage is a non-profit dedicated to historic preservation education, advocacy, and technical services. It also owns and operates Historic Westwood and the Airplane Filling Station. Knox Heritage is supported by members who value preserving historic places in our community. Learn more and become a member at www.knoxheritage.org.

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Same Building, Two Histories

Charles McClung McGhee (1828-1907) was a Knoxville industrialist, banker, real estate developer, railroad magnate, and philanthropist. Born in Monroe County, Tennessee, his father was a wealthy farmer and his mother was the daughter of surveyor Charles McClung, who is best known for drawing up the original plat of Knoxville in 1791. His mother is also a granddaughter of Knoxville’s founder, James White. Throughout his childhood, McGhee lived in both Knoxville and Monroe County and graduated from East Tennessee University (now known as the University of Tennessee) in 1846. He permanently relocated to Knoxville in 1860 and became a wealthy businessman and industrialist. McGhee’s interests ran wide, and he became one of Knoxville’s most influential and successful citizens. McGhee is best known for helping establish the Lawson McGhee Library in 1885, which was dedicated to the memory of his daughter, May “Lawson” McGhee Williams, who had died in 1883 as a result of complications from the birth of her first child.

In March 1872, it was announced in the Knoxville Daily Chronicle that architectural plans had been designed for a new home to be built by McGhee on the site of his former residence on Locust Street. J.H. Gallaher was to be the architect, and it was to be designed in the Italian Villa style. By June 1872, the Knoxville Daily Chronicle had announced that Gallaher’s design had ultimately been rejected and McGhee had hired the young carpenter and architect, Joseph F. Baumann (1844-1920), to design and supervise the construction of a Second Empire style residence. The house was constructed of pressed brick and white mortar and featured an impressive mansard roof and wrap around verandas. The inside featured a parlor, library, billiard room, bathrooms, and well-ventilated bedrooms. The house sat on the crest of a hill a few blocks from Market Square, and the yard and gardens covered a full city block. When President Rutherford B. Hayes toured the Southern States in 1877, McGhee hosted a reception for 600 people in his honor! McGhee and his family lived in the house until his death in 1907. After the death of McGhee, the home was willed to his three adult daughters.

Masonic fraternities had been a staple in Knoxville throughout the 19th century but were officially incorporated as the Masonic Fraternity Association in 1908. After purchasing a four story commercial building at the northern corner of Market Square in 1910, the Association felt that the location did not fulfill its needs and sold the building in 1912. From the proceeds of the sale, the Association purchased the McGhee home in 1914 for its new headquarters. After hiring architect Albert B. Baumann, Sr. (1861-1942), the brother and former business partner of the original architect, Joseph Baumann, it was decided to drastically modify the exterior design and remodel the home into the new Masonic Temple. Construction of the Temple was done by Knoxville building contractor J.M. Dunn & Son and started in the fall of 1915. The Temple was completed in early 1916 and was officially dedicated on October 27, 1916.

While the outside looks very different, you can still see a few remnants of the original exterior design features. The two most prominent examples are the bay window on the south side of the house and the elaborate door surround at the main entrance. The interior has a number of original details still in place that include the main entry hall and staircase, interior woodwork, doors openings, and other interior details. While the Association included a number of original features into the remodel, they did modify a number of details. One of the main modifications was to add a third story to the building and combine rooms to accommodate the need for large gatherings. In order to accommodate the growing needs of the Association, an elevator was installed in 1968 and a kitchen and dining room was added in 1972.

Next time you’re downtown, take a stroll over to Locust Street and take a look at some Knoxville history! Make sure to notice the Y.M.C.A. that was built in 1929 and the 1916 Masonic Court (now known as Kendrick Place) named after the Masonic Temple!

Knox Heritage preserves structures and places of historic or cultural significance for our community. Founded in 1974, Knox Heritage is a nonprofit dedicated to historic preservation education, advocacy, and technical services. It also owns and operates Historic Westwood and the Airplane Filling Station. Knox Heritage is supported by members who value preserving historic places in our community. Learn more and become a member at www.knoxheritage.org.

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Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center: One More Reason to “Visit the Peaceful Side of the Smokies”

By Nancy Williams

In the peaceful gateway community of Townsend, TN, sits a museum like none other, its existence the result of a road-widening project through Tuckaleechee Cove on Highway 321. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires any road project be preceded by an archeological survey. During the survey for this particular project, archeologists began uncovering pieces of history – tens of thousands of artifacts left behind over thousands of years, as it turned out, by civilizations that once called the Smoky Mountains “home.”

The artifacts became property of the state of Tennessee and were destined to become part of the University of Tennessee archives. Due to the work of a handful of local residents who wanted to see their own history shared closer to home, an idea began to take shape and grew into a community-wide effort to build a museum near the original site of the findings.

Following five years of planning, fundraising, construction, and collection, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center officially opened its doors in 2006. Since that time, the Heritage Center has hosted 175,000 visitors, 45,000 of whom were children on organized school tours and the remainder casual visitors – local and from other states and countries.

“It’s important that our youth and adult visitors have the opportunity to know where they came from and to be able to look through a time window into mountain life in other eras,” said Heritage Center Director Bob Patterson.

The Heritage Center consists of a 17,000 square foot, two-story main building that houses two galleries, a 100-seat indoor auditorium, two classrooms, a gift shop, and offices. Outside are 12 historic outbuildings – all but two are authentic structures from Blount and surrounding counties that were carefully taken down and re-constructed on the Center’s six acres. One of the most visible parts of the Center is the 500-seat covered outdoor amphitheater and stage, the setting for warm-weather concerts and other events.

Behind the main building is the historic village – a sawmill, set-off house, wheelwright shop, big cantilever barn, grainery, chapel, Montvale Station, Cardwell Cabin, small cantilever barn, smokehouse, outhouse, and underground still with a shed built directly above it. Of all the historic structures, Cardwell Cabin seems to be the most popular with visitors.

“This is the type of structure where people lived their lives moment to moment,” Patterson said. “It’s something visitors can identify with – being at home.”

Inside the main building, visitors can trace the history of Tuckaleechee Cove, beginning with those Native Americans from 5,000 years back through the Pre-Cherokee and Cherokee eras and the Euro-American period. Tools, ceremonial masks, housing, cooking utensils, plants, furniture, medicine, and more are featured, along with interactive videos on such topics as Cherokee games and pottery making.

Docent-led school tours are common at the Center, as are its special events that include everything from traveling exhibits – like the Kephart/Broome exhibit currently in the Proffitt Gallery or the model of the Titanic now on display in the main gallery – to summer and fall concerts, woodcarver and fiber arts festivals, storytelling, book signings, photography workshops, and an old-fashioned country fair that celebrates homemade products, agriculture, and family fun.

The Center is also the base for Cades Cove Heritage Tours, a guided bus tour of the nearby national park’s most popular destination. These tours run on a regular basis during the busiest seasons and provide the opportunity to enjoy the views and wildlife of Cades Cove and to learn its human history.

The Heritage Center is run and maintained by five full-time and four part-time staff and a host of volunteers. In 2011, volunteer help at the Center accounted for over 12,000 hours, or the equivalent of six full-time staff positions!

Located on Scenic Highway 73 just past Townsend’s one traffic light, Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is Blount County’s only year-round attraction. General admission is free with annual membership, $6 for adults, and $4 for senior adults and students. Group rates are also available. Many of the Center’s facilities are available for rentals for meetings, reunions, workshops, receptions, and weddings.

For more information, visit www.gsmheritagecenter.org or call 865.448.0044.

Each month contributors from the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) write an article for Everything Knoxville celebrating the rich heritage of our region. ETPA is a regional historic preservation membership-based organization that serves Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties. Preservation field services in this region are provided by Knox Heritage and are assisted by a Partners in the Field grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information and to get involved, visit www.knoxheritage.org or www.etpaonline.org.

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Stunning Food and Delicious Views

Since 2004, Knox Heritage has presented an annual series of “Summer Suppers” in some of Knox County’s most spectacular historic places. Each supper is a unique experience unmatched by any event in Knoxville. The 12-13 suppers are organized by host committees of volunteers who work together to plan every detail of the event. From menu preparation, to wine selection, to dishwashing, the host committees make it work.

Last year, the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance joined in the fun and hosted the first Summer Suppers beyond Knox County. One supper highlighted the beautiful Claypond Farm in Loudon County with a tasty menu of grilled seasonal vegetables, slow cooked chicken breasts, Lynchburg lemonade, and homemade ice cream. We even had a grand piano under the tent for entertainment. The second supper was atop Preservation Plaza in Downtown Maryville and featured stunning views of the mountains, delicious tapas, and sangria (a secret recipe!).

This summer, ETPA is again hosting two regional suppers. This year, we’ll be at Richland Mill on August 13 in the rolling hills of Grainger County for “Country Dining Down by the Old Mill Stream.” The story of the mill dates back to 1796 when William Stone was given permission by the first Grainger County Meeting to build a mill on Richland Creek.  Occupied by both Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War, the mill remained in the Stone family until 1904.  Later owners built the Miller’s Cottage for a residence, and the mill continued operation until 1958.  Marvin and Janie House purchased the mill in 1996 and faithfully restored it, with additions made to serve as their unique residence.

Guests will be treated to Grainger County tomato sandwiches, baked country ham with an apricot-cranberry-orange glaze, blue cheese and green onion potato salad, apple slaw, spicy Grainger County tomato grits, seasonal fruit cobblers, and of course a cool stream breeze cocktail. Just imagine a warm summer evening along the cool, gurgling Richland Creek.

Then, on September 11, Beverly and Jack Kramer will open their home for the “Riverside Supper at the McBee Farm.” This Summer Supper is a rare treat! Overlooking the Holston River and McBee Island from the lawn of the McBee House, guests will dine on freshly grown, locally raised, chemical free, farm to table fare. The circa 1830 brick house is one of the oldest surviving houses from the time period in the area and sits on a working farm.

Our hosts have lovingly restored this home and farmstead and received preservation awards from the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities and ETPA. Evening entertainment will include tours of the home, a fox hunt demonstration by the Tennessee Valley Hunt Club, a wagon ride along the banks of the Holston, and music suitable to the setting. This will be a special evening to remember.

The host committee, which includes sisters Jennifer Niceley and Anna Barreiro, has pulled together a tasty spread of local fare that showcases the talents and flavors of Jefferson County. A sampling includes freshly picked vegetables, homegrown herb and hickory cane corn muffins with homemade butter, rosemary pork tenderloin, and vanilla lemon custard with berry coulis. The menu will complement the views perfectly.

We hope to see you at the Richland Mill and the McBee Farm this summer for one of East Tennessee Preservation Alliance’s Summer Suppers. For more detailed information, including full menus, ticket ordering information, and the list of all Knox Heritage Summer Suppers, please visit www.knoxheritage.org or call (865) 523-8008. Tickets will sell out quickly!

ETPA is a membership organization that relies on the input and support of volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a member, serving on a committee, hosting an event, or need technical assistance for your historic place, do not hesitate to reach out to us.

Each month contributors from the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) write an article for Everything Knoxville celebrating the rich heritage of our region. ETPA is a regional historic preservation membership-based organization that serves Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties. Preservation field services in this region are provided by Knox Heritage and are assisted by a Partners in the Field grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, please visit www.knoxheritage.org.

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Greenback: A Railroad Town without a Railroad

Greenback. A sleepy little town? A return to a lifestyle of years ago? It’s depot a symbol of a once thriving town? Or a diamond in the rough?

More than anything, Greenback symbolizes the effect that transportation has on the country. Prior to the establishment of Greenback, the city of Morganton flourished on the banks of the Little Tennessee River. Morganton, formerly known as Portsville, was a bustling town where the ships and flatboats of the country loaded and unloaded goods for the settlers. Ferries provided access across the Little Tennessee.

Then the railroad came! In 1870, Loudon County was established and Greenback became a town. The first trains came through in the 1870s. Then, in 1899, the word came that the L&N railroad would open a second line to be laid somewhere in the area between Morganton or Trigonia toward Maryville. Lorenzo Thompson of Thompson’s Stand and the Swaney Brothers of Trigonia plotted the area where they believed the railroad would go and purchased property. At the time Thompson had been approved for a Post Office at Thompson’s Stand. The Swaneys built a store and Thompson moved his Post Office there. Land for the town was given by the Thompsons and the Halls. Construction started and the first train ran in July 1890.

In 1914, the L&N built a large new depot there and it still stands today. Greenback grew up around that depot and flourished for several years. The frame buildings burned in 1917, 1923, and 1927, but businesses rebuilt. The main part of town included a drug store and diner, three grocery stores, a garage, a blacksmith shop, a hardware store, a bank, and others.

The last train in Greenback ran in 1978.

With the closure of Tellico Dam, water traffic again became popular. Boat companies became numerous. L&N sold the old Depot to Supra Boat Company. The Depot went through several uses including an antique shop and is now used for storage by the current owner.

The City of Greenback began to decline and the Depot stands as a proud sentinel to its more prosperous days. The Greenback Drug and Diner across the street is still the local hangout and next door to it is the Greenback Heritage Museum. The Greenback Historical Society has placed a replica of the Quilt Pattern Boxcar on the outside wall of the Diner and this is included on the Appalachian Quilt Trail. The pattern was chosen to represent the railroad that was the impetus for the founding of the town.

The town is surrounded by a farming community and many of the owners are descendents of its founders. The inhabitants are an independent and close-knit group, but they have long been known for their warmth and hospitality. Many have opened their arms and their hearts to those who have moved to the lakeside communities that have developed near Tellico Lake.

The newcomers in turn have joined local churches, volunteered to work in the museum which is run completely by volunteers, and help with the work of the Historical Society and the local Food Pantry. A Greenback Heritage Scrapbook Committee is working to collect, assemble, and publish photos and articles regarding the history of Greenback. The Greenback Historical Society is a non-profit group that works toward preserving the history of the community. The group sponsored an Open House in early December at the circa 1850s McCollum House, recently restored by Tim Grindstaff.

H & R Block recently chose Greenback for a new ad campaign. The company stayed in the community for a number of days, filming and interviewing residents. They filmed the depot, drug store and museum as well as the locals. One may see the commercials coined “Greenbacks for Greenback.” The company was so impressed with the town and its people that it gave $25,000 to the school and rode in the Christmas Parade before they left town.

The depot is now in private hands. It sits silently in the midst of the town it helped create and is a historic treasure. Often times the residents say, “I wish something could be done about the depot,” but no one has yet come forward to preserve and restore the building. We hope this year will be the year the depot is put to use once again.

Carolyn M. Peck is a native of Greenback, President of the Greenback Historical Society and a board member of the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance.

Each month contributors from the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) write an article for Everything Knoxville celebrating the rich heritage of our region. ETPA is a regional historic preservation membership-based organization that serves Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties. Preservation field services in this region are provided by Knox Heritage and are assisted by a Partners in the Field grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. For more information, please visit www.knoxheritage.org or contact Ethiel Garlington at egarlington@knoxheritage.org.

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