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Elkmont's Historic Appalachian Clubhouse to Have Open House

By Jeaneane Payne

appalachian clubhouse
Newly restored, historic Appalachian Clubhouse, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park is hosting an open house to showcase the newly-restored Appalachian Clubhouse. The open house is scheduled for two days. On Saturday, June 25 the original residents of Elkmont and their families are invited to attend, along with summer residents, land owners, and tenants of the Elkmont area. The public is invited to attend the open house set for Sunday, June 26.

The open houses are at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on both days and will be held at the Appalachian Clubhouse.

The clubhouse is located near the Elkmont Campground which is 9 miles from Gatlinburg, TN.

On Saturday, June 25, students from Western Kentucky University, in cooperation with the national park, will be at the Appalachian Clubhouse to conduct oral interviews of those individuals who wish to do so. The goal is to capture stories of Elkmont's golden years as a vibrant resort community. Park officials are also asking them to bring personal photos or momentos to show and have scanned for inclusion in the Park archives. This information will be used to help the Park develop interpretative materials as part of the Park's management plans for interpreting the history of the structures which are being permanently preserved to tell about the Elkmont Historic District.

On Sunday, June 26, the day's focus is for the general public who will have an opportunity to visit the Appalachian Clubhouse and to attend one of scheduled short interpretative walking tours at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. on the history of Elkmont and future plans for the area. The clubhouse has been restored by the Park's Historic Preservation Crew to its original appearance in the 1930s.

Now available for public day use rental, it was formerly used for social gatherings by tenants and guests of the Appalachian Club whose members, mostly from Knoxville, built rustic cabins nearby to serve as weekend or summer retreats in the years before the Park was created.

Parking is limited at the Appalachian Clubhouse with only 19 spaces. There are several parking areas located in the Elkmont area at the Little River Trailhead and the Jakes Creek Trailhead, within a 1/4-1/2 mile walking distance of the clubhouse.

Elkmont was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

The Elkmont Historic District is located in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) and encompasses approximately 60 acres and contains seventy-four early-20th century modestly-scaled, wood-frame dwellings. This distinct area of the national park is represented by four parts: The Appalachian Cabin on Millionaire's Row at Elkmont Club, Society Hill, Millionaire's Row, and the Wonderland Hotel. The Wonderland Hotel, erected in 1912 and expanded c. 1928, served as the social heart of the Elkmont community. The Appalachian Clubhouse, Elkmont's second largest facility, was constructed in 1934.

In 1901 Colonel Wilson B. Townsend, a Pennsylvania entrepreneur, purchased 86,000 acres of land along Little River and established the Little River Lumber Company.

Townsend allowed hunters and fishermen to use the Little River Railroad to access the deep, game-rich forests of the Smokies.

As the Elkmont valley was slowly stripped of its valuable timber, Townsend began to advertise the area as a mountain getaway. In 1909, Little River Railroad began offering the Sunday "Elkmont Special" — non-stop train service from Knoxville to Elkmont. In 1910, an affluent group of Knoxville hunting and fishing enthusiasts formed the Appalachian Club and purchased what is now "Daisy Town". They built the Appalachian Clubhouse for use as a lodge. Within a few years, several club members built cottages, and the club evolved into a mountain getaway for Knoxville's elite.

Rustic cottages in the Appalachian Club section were known as "Society Hill." Townsend gave Charles Carter several acres of land on a hill overlooking Elkmont in 1912 with the stipulation that Carter build on it within one year. That same year Carter opened the Wonderland Hotel on the land. The resort hotel had 50 rooms with an extensive balcony looking out over the valley and Meigs Mountain.

Published June 22, 2011

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