Shoebox Collection

The Knoxville History Project Continues its Series on Little-Known Photographs Submitted by Locals

At the nonprofit Knoxville History Project, we are always on the lookout for old images for our Knoxville Shoebox digital collection. If you have interesting photographs, postcards, or brochures, from any era, we’d love to hear from you so we can preserve the visual history of Knoxville and make it available for researchers of the future. Old family photos might show interesting scenes or buildings. Posters and photos from musical shows here in Knoxville also have fascinating stories to tell. We are interested in all eras, especially more recent decades not yet covered by local archives and collections, and images of South Knoxville for our current book research. 


The Hippodrome Amusement Company was a short-lived name for the Auditorium, located at Main Avenue and Gay Street, as seen here in this artistically enhanced postcard from the early 1900s. The distinctive building with its domed roof later served as a streetcar barn until the late 1940s. On the right is the Lamar House, which originally opened as a tavern in 1816 and proved to be one of the city’s best-known hotels, hosting U.S. Presidents and masquerade balls during the 19th century. The Bijou Theatre, now one of two historic theatres within two blocks of each other on Gay Street, was built into the back of the Lamar House in 1909. (Shared by Alec Riedl.)


This rare postcard, dating from 1907, shows the interior of the Auditorium during the time it served as a skating rink. Four years later, the building was hosting high-profile events, including a visit by President William Howard Taft who addressed a large biracial crowd after touring the Appalachian Exposition at Chilhowee Park in 1911. After his speaking engagement here, Taft briefly visited Eliza Brownlow, the widow of “Parson” William G. Brownlow, at her home a few short blocks away on E. Cumberland Avenue where Taft viewed “souvenirs of the life of the great-pastor-politician.” (Shared by Merikay Waldvogel.)

Nichols Avenue Grocery

West Knoxville Lifestyle reader Karen Chesney shared a photograph of her grandfather James Buford Nichols’ grocery store, which was located on the southwest corner of East Jackson Avenue and S. Humes Street, an area just east of the Old City, now under construction for the planned baseball stadium. In the photograph, James Buford Nichols is on the right, with his son Jimmie on the left. 

Nichols owned the store in this location for at least 23 years. Karen’s mother recalled that the store was “divided into two large rooms, connected by a door with each having an entrance to the street.” Years before, this area was known as “East Knoxville,” a distinct area that was first incorporated in 1856 and consolidated within the city of Knoxville 12 years later. 

Burlington Barber Shop

By the early 20th century, Burlington was a suburban community in East Knoxville with its own business district, clustered around the eastern terminus of the streetcar line, which lasted until the summer of 1947. By the late 1920s, the Burlington Barber Shop was a community gathering place, especially for athletic organizations. The man at the far back on the right is believed to be a businessman, politician, and local legend, Cas Walker. An old-fashioned barber shop is still there today and is run by Ernie Barnes who has been cutting hair there since the 1950s. (Shared by Ernie Barnes.)

Knoxville Lives IV
KHP’s latest publication, Knoxville Lives IV, features stories of several remarkable Knoxvillians, including the talented but lesser-known sister of a famous impressionist painter; Knoxville's most industrial filmmaker; a thespian whose monocled face is familiar to lovers of Golden Age movies; a major figure in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park movement who became its first historian; and the dramatic story of the elopement of two mixed-race lovers in the months just before the Civil War. A longer story reviews Knoxville's significant associations with major international expositions both in America and overseas: precedents, perhaps, of the 1982 World's Fair.

The mission of the Knoxville History Project (KHP) is to research, preserve, and promote the history and culture of Knoxville, Tennessee. Donations to support the work of the Knoxville History Project, an educational nonprofit, are always welcome and appreciated. KHP’s best-seller, Historic Knoxville: The Curious Visitor’s Guide and the latest collection of stories, Knoxville Lives IV, is available at KnoxvilleHistoryProject.org and local bookstores, including Union Ave Books.

Contact KHP at (865) 337-7723 or email Paul@KnoxHistoryProject.org.

If you have interesting photographs, postcards, or brochures, from any era, we’d love to hear from you so we can preserve the visual history of Knoxville and make it available for researchers of the future.

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