All eyes on Blount Mansion

Father and son Jim and Alex Hamilton portrayed British soldiers from the War of 1812 at the Blount Mansion party earlier this month.

Father and son Jim and Alex Hamilton portrayed British soldiers from the War of 1812 at the Blount Mansion party earlier this month.

I know it may seem as if we were pretty desperate for an excuse to go to a party earlier this month, but the birthday soiree for the state of Tennessee held at Blount Mansion was only a short walk from our downtown condo. So we just had to go.

Actually, our friend Dorothy Stair is the president of the Blount Mansion Association board of directors, and we wanted to support her and all the others who have worked so hard to see that the oldest museum in Knoxville – and the birthplace of the state of Tennessee — is preserved. William Blount, a North Carolina politician and land speculator, was appointed by President George Washington to be governor of what then was known as the Territory of the United States South of the River Ohio. He governed from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, until the Treaty of the Holston was signed in 1791, promising “peace and friendship” with the Cherokee Nation. After that, Blount announced that he was moving his capital to Knoxville and work on his new home, Blount Mansion, began in 1792. Tennessee became the 16th state on June 1, 1796 — and thus the cause for the late spring party.

Blount’s wife, Mary, seems to have been something of a handful. She had nothing but disdain for the log structures such as James White’s Fort and most other area houses of the time. She told her husband she wanted a “proper wooden house,” and townspeople watched in fascination as pine paneling, finished woodwork and weatherboards came over the mountains from North Carolina and were floated down the river to Knoxville. Glass for the windows came by horseback from Virginia. Nails were brought from the Blount family’s naillery near Tarboro, North Carolina. Bricks for the chimney and foundation were made on site.

The result certainly is a departure from the log cabins and homemade furniture prevalent in Knoxville at the time. I assume it is the large number of windows in the house that led the Cherokee to call it “the house with many eyes.” Blount Mansion today is a registered National Historic Landmark, and the board is in the midst of a renovation project that will guarantee the building is preserved for years to come. Right now, Blount Mansion is empty of all its furniture due to the construction. But that, in a way, adds even more interest to it because you can more easily see how the house was originally constructed.

Board members and staff plan to market Blount Mansion as an event venue. The party held there June 6 demonstrated what a good idea that is.

Board President Dorothy Stair, left, and Blount Mansion's executive director Katie Stringer.

Board President Dorothy Stair, left, and Blount Mansion’s executive director Katie Stringer.

Drum and fife players greeted guests. That's Calvin Chappelle on fife and R.L. Kelly on the drum.

Drum and fife players greeted guests. That’s Calvin Chappelle on fife and R.L. Kelly on the drum.

Sam Maynard, left, is the executive director of James White's Fort. He's with a Tennessee gunman, Charles Rodenheimer.

Sam Maynard, left, is the executive director of James White’s Fort. He’s with a Tennessee gunman, Charles Rodenheimer.

City  Councilman Marshall Stair and Ellen Capito

City Councilman Marshall Stair and Ellen Capito

 

County Commissioner Ed Shouse, left, and Alexander Waters

County Commissioner Ed Shouse, left, and Alexander Waters

Music was by the Chuck Hooten Band.

Music was by the Chuck Hooten Band.

George and Susie Wilson, left, with Alan Carmichael.

George and Susie Wilson, left, with Alan Carmichael.

William McDonough with Willene Chalmers.

William McDonough with Willene Chalmers.

Brothers Steve, left, and John Cotham.

Brothers Steve, left, and John Cotham.

Three generations. From left, Martha Ashe (a current Moxley Carmichael intern); her mom, Joan Ashe; and Ashe's aunt, former County Commissioner Wanda Moody.

Three generations. From left, Martha Ashe (a current Moxley Carmichael intern); her mom, Joan Ashe; and Ashe’s aunt, former County Commissioner Wanda Moody.

Libby Orr, left, and Julia Landreth.

Libby Orr, left, and Julia Landreth.

Morgan Bramley and Taylor Forrester

Morgan Bramley and Taylor Forrester.

Caterer Holly Hambright is famous for her candied bacon. But these are my favorite appetizer she offers: asparagus and pimento cheese rolls.

Caterer Holly Hambright is famous for her candied bacon. But this is my favorite appetizer she offers: asparagus and pimento cheese rolls.

Corn cakes topped with slow slaw and pork confit.

Corn cakes topped with slow slaw and pork confit.

The main course salad was perfect for a warm spring evening.

The main course salad was perfect for a warm spring evening.

Yum, yum!

Yum, yum!

Casual elegance.

Casual elegance.

Blount Mansion Association Vice President Jared Smith made remarks.

Blount Mansion Association Vice President Jared Smith made remarks.

Shane and Lisa Nocus.

Shane and Lisa Nocus.

Scott and Lynne Fugate.

Scott and Lynne Fugate.

Mike and Betty Copeland.

Mike and Betty Copeland.

Patricia Bible and Sol Holcomb.

Patricia Bible and Sol Holcomb.

Pego Dempster and Bud Albers

Pego Dempster and Bud Albers.

John Thomas, left, and David Butler, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

John Thomas, left, and David Butler, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Judge Harold and Sarah Wimberly.

Judge Harold and Sarah Wimberly.

Andrew Dougherty and Griffiin Brownlee.

Andrew Dougherty and Griffin Brownlee.

Angie Campbell

Angie Campbell

I loved the flower in her hair.

I loved the flower in her hair.

Anne McWhirter and her son, Chuck Farmer.

Anne McWhirter and her son, Chuck Farmer.

Tom and Anna Ford with Larry Martin, right.

Tom and Anna Ford with Larry Martin, right.

Goodnight to Blount Mansion, the house with many eyes.

Goodnight to Blount Mansion, the house with many eyes.

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Historic preservation, Knoxville. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to All eyes on Blount Mansion

  1. Alan Carmichael, on June 17th, 2014 at 2:18 pm said:

    Blount had some down moments in public life, but he was one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution.

  2. Rusha Sams, on June 18th, 2014 at 8:17 am said:

    So glad you wrote about this house, one of Knoxville’s greatest treasures. Also happy to see so many supporters of the ongoing work at Blount Mansion led by a visionary group of board members and volunteers. Here’s to many more summer events celebrating a history we can be proud of!

  3. Cynthia Moxley, on June 18th, 2014 at 8:22 am said:

    Rusha: I’m glad we decided to go. It was fun and educational. And Holly’s food was great, as usual.

  4. Gay Lyons, on June 19th, 2014 at 12:42 pm said:

    I hated to miss this. Love Blount Mansion. Their events are always fun & interesting.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on June 19th, 2014 at 12:54 pm said:

    They really are, Gay. We missed seeing you and Bill. There’s always next year’s state of Tennessee’s birthday!

  6. Pingback: Now serving … the menu matters | Event Check Knox

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