Partying with the preservationists!

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon presenting Lawrence Eaton with the City of Knoxville Mayor’s Award for his work preserving the Knaffl House on Speedway Circle.

For 50 years now, starting with the Bijou Theatre, Knox Heritage has been working to preserve historic buildings in the Greater Knoxville area. As someone who lives downtown and who is actively involved with the annual Big Ears Festival, I know firsthand what an important activity that has turned out to be.

I have my residence and my office in historic buildings downtown. But, also important for Knoxville’s success, people who DON’T live or work downtown town love the way our city looks because of the history we have preserved.

During the recent Big Ears Festival, which attracted visitors from almost every state and scores of foreign countries, I heard over and over folks commenting on our town’s looks and charm. They were absolutely enchanted.

Last week, Knox Heritage celebrated the latest successes with its annual East Tennessee Preservation Awards. The reception and ceremony, held in The Emporium Center on Gay Street — itself a historic structure — were an upbeat affirmation of Knoxville moving in the right direction by not wiping out our past.

Cheers to the 2024 award winners!

The Emporium, located in the 100 block of Gay Street, is a comfortable — and convenient — place for events. Folks started engaging from the moment they arrived!

Knox Heritage Board President Adrienne Webster, left, with Jenny and Rick Blackburn.

From left, Charlie Daniel, former Knoxville Mayor Dan Brown, and Alan Carmichael.

Former Knoxville City Council members Marshall Stair, left, and Ed Shouse. Shouse also served on Knox County Commission and as Knox County Trustee.

Former Knoxville City Council Member Duane Grieve, left, and lawyer Dan Holbrook. Grieve, an architect, is now executive director of East Tennessee Community Design Center.

From left, Jane and Doug McCarty with Stuart Cassell, who would pick up an award that night.

From left, Bill and Jeanne Tapp with Carol and Don Parnell.

Mike Keller, left, who would win an award later in the evening, chatting with another architect, Scott Busby.

Knox Heritage Executive Director Christine Cloninger and Marilyn Childress, who would take home honors.

Kevin Murphy, left, and Carson Kirby.

From left, Kendall Keller, Scott and Christy Brooks.

Paul James, left, with Martha Kern.

John Niceley and Cathy Briscoe.

From left, former Knoxville City Council Member Finbarr Saunders, Ellen Bebb, and Cindy Spangler.

The food spread was a hit!

David Brace, Mayor Kincannon’s chief of staff, poses with his City of Knoxville colleague, Rebekah Jane Justice, and her two daughters, Clara and Early.

Caesar Stair III and Janie Bitner, a Knox Heritage Board member.

Haley Arni and Ed Shouse.

Knox Heritage Board member Marsha Grieve, right with Doug and Jane McCarty.

Alan Solomon and Andrea Cartwright getting ready for the presentation to start.

Melissa and Chad Tindell. He’s a Knox Heritage Board member.

John and Sandra Butler.

Ruth and Don Horton.

Christine Cloninger, executive director of Knox Heritage, shows the awards that will be given to all the winners. Due to a shipping snafu, they weren’t available for the ceremony, but winners received certificates. No biggie.

Mayor Indya Kincannon kicked things off by giving the Mayor’s Award to Lawrence Eaton, pictured at the top of this post, for his work preserving the Knaffl House. The structure, home of Knoxville’s most famous Victorian Age photographer, Joseph Knaffl, was moved in 1926 to its current location in the Burlington neighborhood to make way for what is now the Andrew Johnson Hotel building. Historian Jack Neely wrote about it here.

The next award, called a Preservation Merit Award, went to the City of Knoxville itself for preservating the old Saint Mary’s Hospital Building and turning it into the city’s new Safety Center, among other uses. From left, City Council Member Lauren Rider, who represents that district, Mayor Kincannon, and her chief of staff, David Brace.

Attorney Stuart Cassell also received a Preservation Merit Award for renovations to the Cunningham Building, which is the site of his law office and some condominiums at 707 Market Street downtown. It is mentioned in this Wikipedia post.

Lesley and Lawrence Eaton received a Preservation Merit Award for their work on the Williams-Richards House on Riverside Drive.

Jade and Grant Kloss received a Preservation Merit Award for renovation of a home on East Scott Avenue in Old North Knoxville.

Sam Moser received a Preservation Merit Award for his work on The Lazy Beagle, a pub at 107 N. Main Street in Sweetwater.

Heather and Jimmy Ryan received a Preservation Stewardship Award for a home on Coker Avenue. Jimmy Ryan is a Knox Heritage Board member.

Architect Michael Keller also received a Preservation Stewardship Award for work he’s spearheaded at the Phoenix Building on Gay Street.

The Greystone Award went to the Veterans Historic Site Foundation. President Marilyn Childress accepted it.

Knox Heritage Board President Adrienne Webster presents Duane Grieve with the biggest award of the night, the Spirit of Kristopher Award, named after Kristopher Kendrick, a pioneer of Knoxville’s historic preservation.

It was announced that Knox Heritage has created a new award called the Kim Trent Advocacy in Action Award, named after the agency’s former dynamic executive director. Trent, who was traveling in Cuba, sent her thanks via video.

And, to wrap things up, Bob and Diana Samples received the Volunteers of the Year Award. Diana is the great granddaughter of artist Adelia Lutz, for whom Westwood Mansion on Kingston Pike was built. Knox Heritage is headquartered there. The couple have been instrumental in the preservation of Westwood and have been dedicated supporters of Knox Heritage.

Christine Cloninger gave an emotional hug to Diana Samples. Sweet conclusion.


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4 Responses to Partying with the preservationists!

  1. Alan Carmichael, on May 28th, 2024 at 7:01 pm said:

    It was a feel-good evening. I can attest to the positive comments you hear at the Big Ears Festival. Visitors especially admire the older buildings preserved on Gay Street.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on May 29th, 2024 at 9:30 am said:

    Knox Heritage does a great job! Thank goodness they started with saving the Bijou Theatre — it really is a treasure — and kept going.

  3. Marsha Grieve, on May 29th, 2024 at 10:03 pm said:

    Cynthia – Thank you for attending the awards and shining a light on preservation in Knoxville. The work of Knox Heritage and early preservationists has helped to inspire others to save and restore historic properties. Recognizing these individuals is a top priority for Knox Heritage and we appreciate your spotlighting them on Bluestreak!

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on May 29th, 2024 at 11:56 pm said:

    Marsha: Appreciate everything Knox Heritage is doing! Thanks for serving on the board.

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