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A Home for Our Past Exhibition

601 South Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
601 South Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902

(865) 215-8824

  • Date(s): October 18, 2018 to March 31, 2019
  • Event Times: Monday - Friday 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM, Saturday 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM, and Sunday 1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Price: $5.00 adults, $4.00 55 and over, free for ages 16 and under and on Sundays
  • Location: East Tennessee History Center

When the Museum of East Tennessee History opened in 1993, it fulfilled a shared vision to preserve and interpret the region’s rich history for the benefit of all, a vision first articulated a century and a half earlier. On May 5, 1834, Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey addressed a group of a historically-minded citizens gathered for the first annual meeting of the East Tennessee Historical and Antiquarian Society. Concerned that many of the participants in Tennessee’s early history were passing away and with them their memories, Ramsey issued a call to action: “Let us hasten to redeem the time that is lost.”

Today, 184 years later, Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey’s plea to save Tennessee’s past continues to reverberate in the galleries of the East Tennessee Historical Society’s museum, a permanent home for our region’s cherished stories, traditions, and artifacts. The East Tennessee Historical Society actively began collecting artifacts and producing award-winning interpretive exhibits in 1993, which has now grown to more than 16,000 artifacts housed within the East Tennessee History Center. In this special exhibition, ETHS is excited to highlight East Tennessee’s unique history through a variety of artifacts, with at least one exhibited item from each year of ETHS’s active 25 years of collections, most of which are rarely or never on display.

The exhibition includes more than twenty-five artifacts and numerous photographs and illustrations representative of East Tennessee’s unique history. Some of the items include an 1883 Springfield penny-farthing, the first apparatus to be called a “bicycle”; an 1822 artificial hand that belonged to a teacher from Union County; a silver coffee and tea service from the East Tennessee and Virginia Railroad presented to Superintendent James Baker Hoxsie upon his retirement in 1866; a coverlet woven by one of the famed Walker sisters of Greenbrier; a shirt stating “Healing in the name of Jesus. Take up serpents, Acts 2:38” worn during religious services practicing snake handling in Cocke County; an 1817 bead necklace belonging to Eliza Sevier, the wife of Templin Ross and the granddaughter of both John Sevier and Cherokee Chief Oconostota; a 1907 baseball uniform from a coal town’s team in Marrion County; and the distinctive backdrop and wall clock from WBIR-TV variety program "The Cas Walker Farm & Home Show." The exhibit also features a brilliant display of East Tennessee furniture, textiles, folk art, instruments, and vintage toys.

Also on display are more than two dozen featured artifacts from the Tennessee State Museum. A new Tennessee State Museum will open on the grounds of the Bicentennial Capital Mall in Nashville on October 4. ETHS is honored to display select East Tennessee artifacts from their collection, highlighting the programmatic ties between the two institution as well as the museums’ shared mission to preserve Tennessee’s rich history. Selected items include a 1792 map of the State of Franklin, an 1831 copy of the Cherokee Phoenix & Indians Advocate newspaper, and a 19th century flintlock muzzle loading rifle made by Baxter Bean of Washington County.

The public opening of the exhibition begins at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, September 14, with light refreshments and ribbon cutting and remarks at 5:15.

The exhibition by the East Tennessee Historical Society is made possible through a collaboration with the Tennessee State Museum and the Knox County Public Library, and is sponsored by Home Federal Bank. The exhibit is on view at the Museum of East Tennessee History through March 31, 2019.


A Home for Our Past Exhibition
  • to
  • East Tennessee History Center
  • $5.00 adults, $4.00 55 and over, free for ages 16 and under and on Sundays