Harrowing tale by a homegrown Hanna

Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, speaking at Cherokee Country Club.

Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, speaking at Cherokee Country Club.

Jack Hanna was in town earlier this month to be named East Tennessean of the Year by the East Tennessee Historical Society. At $500 per seat, the event, featuring Hanna and several animals from the Columbus Zoo, was a sellout at Cherokee Country Club.

This is only the second time the organization has bestowed this award. The only other time was in 2011 when former Knoxville mayor and current Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam received it.

“I can’t believe you all paid $500 to see me,” a seemingly humbled Hanna said after accepting the award. Although he said his wife, Suzi, had advised him to keep his remarks under 20 minutes, he spoke for over an hour, telling story after story about various animals and exotic locations he’s visited.

The most harrowing was his description of the worst animal bite he’s ever gotten. It was on the David Letterman Show in 1985 when he was handling a 35-pound beaver. “It was a monster beaver,” he recalled. “The biggest beaver I’ve ever seen.” (read more)


‘Artsclamation!’ earns its exclamation point

Shannon Haas was the featured artist at this year's Artsclamation sale.

Shannon Haas was the featured artist at this year’s Artsclamation! sale.

Artsclamation!, an art sale benefiting Peninsula Hospital, has THE BEST ART every year. Held in the gym of Sacred Heart Cathedral School right before the holidays kick off, the juried show offers a chance to meet the artists and discuss with them their latest offerings. And the prices generally are terrific. If you missed the event this year, you absolutely must put it on your calendar for 2015. You’ll see what I mean when you look at the pictures I’m including here.

Peninsula Hospital, a division of Covenant Health‘s Parkwest Medical Center, is located in Louisville, south of Knoxville. It operates a 155-bed treatment center and provides inpatient mental health services for adults, adolescents and children. Medical professionals work in teams to stabilize and assist people, many of whom are in intense crises. Peninsula Hospital is one of the few facilities in the area that can accept involuntary commitments. (read more)


It was a Time for dancing — and recognition

Morris Day and The Time performing for the Urban League at the Knoxville Convention Center.

Morris Day and The Time performing for the Urban League at the Knoxville Convention Center.

One of the best parties of the year is the Knoxville Area Urban League’s Equal Opportunity Awards Gala. Held the fourth Thursday of every October, it combines a serious mission — giving out the prestigious awards — with a heaping helping of pure fun.

Dancing always is a big part of this event and this year was no exception. Morris Day, an artist known both for his work with Prince as a bandmate in the early 1980s and as lead singer in his own band, The  Time, rocked the Knoxville Convention Center crowd.

His best known songs, “Jungle Love” and “The Bird” turned the whole room into a dance floor.

But this came after the serious part of the evening when iconic civil rights figure Rita Geier received the Whitney M. Young Jr., Lifetime Achievement Award. In 1968, Geier was teaching part-time at Tennessee State University in Nashville, and the University of Tennessee announced that it was opening a new campus in downtown Nashville. Geier recognized that, while the schools were legally integrated, this development would cause a social segregation with white students attending the University of Tennessee-Nashville and black students attending Tennessee State University. She also was concerned about the state’s financial investment in UT compared to that of TSU. (read more)


A ‘Teenie’ view of the future

Our hostess, Christine "Teenie" Hayworth, left, with Jenny Hines, treasurer of Foothills Land Conservancy.

Our hostess, Christine “Teenie” Hayworth, left, with Jenny Hines, treasurer of Foothills Land Conservancy.

 

It was a rainy day, and I wondered what effect that would have on the party planned outdoors at Teenie Hayworth’s beautiful West Knoxville horse farm called Penrose.

But we grabbed our umbrellas and set out anyway. It seems that Teenie’s farm is so beautiful, it doesn’t matter what the weather is.

The purpose of the party was to raise money for the Foothills Land Conservancy and to celebrate the success of the organization. So far it has succeeded in placing 47,000 acres in 26 Tennessee counties under conservation easements, which will prevent the properties from being subdivided for development.

This is the fifth year Teenie has opened her beautiful estate — 130 acres of stunning land with a view of the Great Smoky Mountains — to Foothills Land Conservancy for this event. And Teenie is leading by example. In 2007, she placed Penrose Farm under a conservation easement. She truly believes in the mission of the organization to “preserve, protect and enhance” the landscapes of East Tennessee. (read more)


Local wedding, long-lasting love

John and Lauren Christ Miller at their wedding reception.

John and Lauren Christ Miller at their wedding reception.

Everyone’s heard of “farm to table.” But how many have experienced “farm to altar?” All of us who went to the sweet, touching wedding of Lauren Christ and John Miller earlier this year can say we have. Well, sort of.

“John and I both are from East Tennessee and we love the area,” Lauren, Moxley Carmichael’s director of client services, said recently. “We wanted to celebrate how we live our lives.”

To that end, they selected the oldest Catholic church in Knoxville, the breathtaking Immaculate Conception downtown, as the site of the nuptials. For the reception? The Southern Depot. “We loved the feel of the old railroad station in the heart of downtown Knoxville,” she said. Rehearsal dinner was at Remedy Coffee in the Old City with catering by Chandler’s Deli – chicken, barbecue, fried okra and John’s mother’s pimento cheese, for which she is renowned.

To me, the thing that stands out most about the wedding was the hundreds of beautiful peonies used in the decor and in the bouquets. “I went to the Market Square Farmers’ Market and that’s where I first saw them,” Lauren said. They were from Napping Cat Flower Farm in Maryville. “I loved that they would be grown in an East Tennessee garden and not be shipped in from somewhere else.” (read more)


Stars come out for Knoxville Jazz Orchestra

Janet Testerman Crossley and Bill Regas took to the dance floor during the recent Evening Under the Stars.

Janet Testerman Crossley and Bill Regas took to the dance floor during the recent Evening Under the Stars.

Once again, Sherri Lee opened her beautiful estate on a picturesque cove on Fort Loudoun Lake to raise funds for the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra through an event called Evening Under the Stars. This, year, however, due to the threat of rain, it was actually an evening under a huge tent! As it turned out, the rain held off. And it was beautiful, in any case.

The Knoxville Jazz Orchestra is a 17-piece big band with five saxophones, four trombones, five trumpets, piano, bass and drums. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to growing audiences for jazz music through public performance and education outreach. Since its inception in 1999, the organization has presented dozens of concerts in East Tennessee, appeared on major jazz festivals in the United States and Europe, performed and recorded with internationally acclaimed guest artists and released four critically acclaimed CD recordings.

The orchestra presents six annual concerts in downtown Knoxville with performances at the Tennessee Theatre, the Bijou Theatre and The Square Room. These concerts feature world-renowned guest artists backed by some of our area’s top professional musicians. This past season, every single show sold out in advance. (read more)


We were Conned into a great time

Con Hunley returned to the former Corner Lounge for one night only.

Con Hunley returned to the former Corner Lounge for one night only.

My husband, Alan Carmichael, and I are big Con Hunley fans. And we are big fans of the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers series of fundraisers. We also love caterer Holly Hambright – for her fabulous food and her mega-sized personality.

So when we saw that one of the Summer Suppers was called “Holly’s Corner Lounge Presents Con Hunley: One Night Only,” we knew where we would be on that night!

Ahh, The Corner Lounge. According to historian Jack Neely, writing for Metro Pulse in 2008, The Corner Lounge opened in the 1930s, shortly after the end of Prohibition, as The Corner Grill. Although it sold some simple food, The Corner, as it came to be called, quickly became better known as a beer joint. In 1979, novelist Cormac McCarthy placed one of the scenes of his book “Suttree” in The Corner. The action in the book was set in 1951. (read more)


This was a towering anniversary meal!

Alan enjoys a sublime lunch at Le Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.

Alan enjoys a sublime lunch at Le Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower. Doesn’t he look a little French in this photo?

While we loved the bistro experience at Les Papilles when we were in Paris last month (click here for that report), we were just blown away by the food, service and ambience of Le Jules Verne restaurant on the second platform of the Eiffel Tower.

This, for us, was one of those “bucket list” experiences.

The brainchild of superstar chef Alain Ducasse, Le Jules Verne opened in 2007. “Much more than a restaurant, this place is conducive to dreams and wonderful memories,” Ducasse himself said of the eatery. He designed it, he said, “to be the most breath-taking venue in Paris to enjoy contemporary French cuisine.”

His vision is a success. It truly does afford guests the best view of Paris from 125 meters in the air, the equivalent of about 38 stories. Add to that the Michelin-starred cuisine paired with excellently matched wines, and the experience is incomparable. (read more)


“Thyme” was on our side at this affair

Time -- or "thyme" -- was the theme of the Green Thumb Gala. This huge clock was a show-stopper.

Time — or “thyme” — was the theme of the Green Thumb Gala. This huge clock was a show-stopper.

The Green Thumb Gala (I love that name!) to benefit the Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum might have been a typical silent and live auction, but the venue and the auction items made it special.

Held under a huge tent at the East Knoxville location of the botanical garden, the attendance at the party this past Sunday exceeded last year’s. With a theme of “thyme,” and many items for gardens, patios and landscaping offered for sale, it was a relaxed good “time” for more than 320 people to pleasantly end the weekend while benefiting a good cause. (read more)


Summer Suppers wind down; Elegant Dining starts

Steve Hackney, one of the Summer Supper hosts, offers a Pimm's Cup to guests at the home of Penny Lynch and Kimbro Maguire.

Steve Hackney, one of the Summer Supper hosts, offers a Pimm’s Cup to guests at the home of Penny Lynch and Kimbro Maguire.

The Knox Heritage Summer Suppers are over, but I still have a few posts about them to help us make it until they start again in June of 2015. In the meantime, the Knoxville Symphony League’s Elegant Dining Series will launch October 14 and continue until spring. Both of these series are fun ways to help two important organizations thrive, while getting a private glimpse into the fabulous homes of our friends and neighbors!

And speaking of fabulous homes …

Penny Lynch and Kimbro Maguire bought their 1920s Barber McMurry home on Mellen Avenue in 1998. They spent the next three years renovating the English Arts and Crafts style house, completing two additions that blend seamlessly with the original architecture. The Summer Supper they offered to Knox Heritage patrons was called “Art, Antiques and Architecture” because of the eclectic decor of the house. In addition to modern art, the furnishings include antiques that Penny has been collecting since she was 15. (read more)