Pretty mantel decorations beneath a portrait of George Washington in Blount Mansion. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
As we celebrate the end of 2018, here’s one last post about a sweet Christmas tradition: The Knoxville Garden Club‘s annual decoration of Blount Mansion with seasonal greenery. Martha Kern, the owner of Strong Stock Farm in East Knox County, was in charge of gathering all the greenery for the decorators to use for their task.
“Martha, where do you get all the materials? Does it all come from your farm?” I asked her at the dinner during which the decorations were unveiled. “You don’t even want to know the answer to that!” she laughed. “Trust me. You don’t want to know!”
Martha Kern and her son, attorney Stuart Ijams Cassell.
Her daughter, Carrie Niceley, said that much of the material does come from the farm. But that when time to decorate Blount Mansion draws near, her mother travels with a set of clippers in her vehicle. “We’ll be driving somewhere and I’ll hear her say, ‘Look at that! Stop the car!’ Then, we get out and cut something and throw it in the vehicle! You can’t believe all the places we’ve pulled over!”
All I can say is that the process works. Blount Mansion looked beautiful this year.
Blount Mansion, located at 200 W. Hill Ave. in downtown Knoxville, is known as “the birthplace of Tennessee” because it was the home of the only territorial governor of the Southwest Territory, William Blount.
The first phase of it was completed in 1795 and 1796. (Knoxville itself was founded in 1791.)
Greenery made beautiful centerpieces on all the tables at the sold-out event. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
David Butler, left, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art, with Alan Carmichael during the cocktail portion of the evening.
Al and Lisa Blakley with Beecher Bartlett, right. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Dorothy Stair, a Blount Mansion board member, with her son, City Councilman Marshall Stair.
Greenery and candles were everywhere. Fortunately, the candles looked authentic, but did not contain real flames.
An appetizer spread with a pate centerpiece was popular. Food was by Northshore Brasserie.
Kathryn and Jason Good. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Jim Grossen and Sara Phillips. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Richard Jolley with Caroline Smith, left, and Sarah Stowers. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
From left, Susan Martin, Paul Barrette, Debby Schriver and Kate Kilgore. Debby is president-elect of the Blount Mansion Association.
From left, Samma Bromley, Laura Forrester and Julia Conner. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Marshall Stair, left, and Gaines Pittenger. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
From left, Martha Kern, Anne Pittenger, Carrie Niceley, David Pittenger and David Birdwell. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
From left, Richard Jolley, Robert Young, Tommie Rush, Jim McDonough and Steve Cox. In background, at right, is Stuart Cassell. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Soon, it was time to take our seats in the two beautiful dining rooms. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
It was a convivial group.
Sarah Stowers came over to greet Alan at our table.
The centerpiece on our table.
Pee Jay and Allison Easterday Alexander.
Even the poached pear salad looked like Christmas, didn’t it?
Jane and Chris Huddleston.
Susan Martin, left, and Sara Phillips flank Blount Mansion Executive Director David Hearnes.
Dorothy Stair, left, and Kreis Beall.
Photographer Vaiden Taylor put down her camera and helped serve dinner! (Love that staircase in the background!)
Short ribs fell off the bone when your fork touched them! (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
Stephanie Balest, proprietor of Northshore Brasserie, delivering desserts.
Which were fabulous!
From left, former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, John Thomas and David Butler.
And then, Christmas carols! Here’s Brandon Gibson during a solo. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
All the singers posed at the end of the evening. From left, Brandon Coffer, Michael Rodgers, Dominick White, April Hill, Brandon Gibson and Maurice Hendricks. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)
It was a gently awesome evening. (Photo by Vaiden Taylor.)