Shoebox Collections

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

We hope you enjoy this monthly sampler from Knoxville History Project’s "Knoxville Shoebox" collection. We are always on the lookout for old family and personal pictures--especially when there’s something distinctly Knoxvillian about them. Our goal is to help fill in the many gaps in the photographic record of our city’s past.

If you have interesting old photographs of your own, from any era, we’d love to hear from you. You show us the photograph, we copy it and give the original back to you. We preserve and archive the image and make it available for researchers of the future, always crediting your contribution. Sharing was never so easy—and we’ll do our best to make your images immortal!

Please contact Paul James at the Knoxville History Project at 865-337-7723 or paul@knoxhistoryproject.org. Learn more at knoxvillehistoryproject.org/knoxville-shoebox/


Whittle Springs

In the early 1900s, colorful postcards, many featuring color-tinted photographs, produced in the thousands, depicted all aspects of a city’s notable places. Whittle Springs, an expansive hotel resort on the north side of Knoxville, was a popular place for visitors as well as locals. One of its attractive amenities was the outdoor swimming pool. The hotel’s ballroom featured many jazz concerts and dances. In 1954, WNOX built an extravagant state-of-the art auditorium here, but it never reached the heights of popularity as it did downtown. After a postwar decline in popularity, the resort was demolished in 1964. The last vestige of the resort remains in Whittle Springs Golf Course. Shared by Alec Riedl.

Fountain City Lake

Developed around the Fountainhead Springs resort in North Knoxville, in the valley between Sharp’s Ridge and Black Oak Ridge, Fountain City has a distinct personality. Fountain City Lake (aka Duck Pond), dates back to the 1880s, and has become a lasting icon. Although hard to discern on the ground, the lake is actually heart shaped. Close by, Fountain City Park, maintained by the Lions Club, is almost as old, and over the years has hosted not only picnics and ball games, but also firework shows, balloon ascensions, lectures, and political rallies. Shared by Alec Riedl.

Andrew Johnson Hotel

This postcard depicting a view overlooking the Tennessee River highlights several Knoxville icons. Completed in 1929 as the Tennessee Terrace, and soon renamed the Andrew Johnson Hotel, the enduring Gay Street building remained East Tennessee’s tallest structure for a half a century. The hotel served as a jump-off point for visitors eager to explore the nation’s newest national park in the Smokies. The 1886 Knox County Courthouse shown here is the fourth iteration in the city’s history. The Gay Street Bridge, completed in 1897, ushered in a new era of streetcars, helping to connect new suburbs such as Island Home Park in South Knoxville. Shared by Alec Riedl.


In the mid-1920s, Talahi was a planned “town center” development in Sequoyah Hills, west of downtown. In the wake of the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb, Egyptian themes coupled with the prevailing art-deco designs were surprisingly prevalent in 1920s architecture. Although the development was a financial flop, many of the Talahi’s unique features still remain today: the Talahi Monument seen in the postcard still stands along with an obelisk with “Panther Fountain,” and a recently renovated frog pond, all clustered around the intersection of Cherokee Boulevard Park at Talahi Drive. Shared by Adrienne Webster as part of the KHP/Lib Cooper Knoxville Postcard Collection.

Historic Knoxville Guide

A comprehensive and engaging guide for both visitors and residents, Historic Knoxville: The Curious Visitor’s Guide offers a wide-ranging guided tour to scores of places and institutions relevant to the city’s little known but endlessly fascinating history. The 200-page full-color guidebook with user-friendly maps includes all the city’s historic homes, museums, and historical collections; the old brick buildings of Knoxville’s downtown core; historic neighborhoods; park and gardens; cemeteries and statuary; University of Tennessee campus; Civil War sites; and a Knoxville history essay with extensive timeline. Available from the Knoxville History Project and local bookstores and gift shops.

The Knoxville History Project is an educational nonprofit with a mission to research, preserve and promote the history and culture of Knoxville. KHP gives talks and presentations (in-person and on Zoom), writes books, and engages the public online through stories, oral history conversations, driving tours and much more.

Please help us connect more Knoxvillians and visitors to the history of the city by making a donation to support the work of the Knoxville History Project at knoxvillehistoryproject.org/khp-donations/


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