Greeneville, Tennessee History & Shopping Excursion

August 29, 2016 in Editorials

Greeneville, Tenn., is the second oldest town in Tennessee and located in one of the largest counties of the state. If you’ve not experienced its rich history, I hope you mark it next on your bucket list after this read.

This year, I was honored to meet and befriend Leon and Diane Patterson. Leon and Diane, (who is from Greeneville) have a booth in The Treasure Chest Antiques in Greeneville. After Leon shared his interest to put Greeneville on the map in The Busy Bee Trader, he has worked with the Greeneville merchants to put together an ad in The Busy Bee. I have always loved the history in Greeneville and Green County, and promised I’d write some articles to help him share Greeneville.

Greeneville was established in 1783 and is perfectly located at the foot of the breathtakingly beautiful Appalachian Mountains. It was the home and burial place of U. S. 17th President, President Andrew Johnson. You can visit the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery by taking the President’s Walking tour that includes the visitor’s center, museum, the two residences, and the tailor shop where, first Senator, then President Andrew Johnson worked and had serious debates over troubling issues regarding things taking place at that time; as well as Monument Hill where he was laid to rest.

On your walking tour, you’ll discover the wonderful treasures of times past as history directs you along brick sidewalks where notable people and soldiers once walked amongst the downtown historic architectural structures. Note the picturesque structures such as the First Presbyterian Church, which was founded in 1783 and was the first church in Greeneville and one of the oldest in the state. You’ll be amazed at the history of Greeneville Cumberland Presbyterian Church established in 1841. The present church began in 1860 after the purchase of land from then Senator Andrew Johnson. It came under shelling fire on Sept. 4, 1864, and was left with a cannonball lodged in the front wall. On that same day, across the street, Confederate General John Hunt Morgan was killed at the home of Dr. and Mrs. Alexander Williams when Federal troops launched a surprise attack.

Today, you can reserve a stay at the General Morgan Inn, located in the historic district of downtown Greeneville where the first wooden structure was built. The Inn was first called the DeWoody Tavern; later the Lane House. In the late 1880s, Col. John H Doughty purchased the Lane House and demolished it in order to build the four story, exclusive and elaborate Grand Central Hotel. It became known as and stayed The Brumley until September 1996, when the doors reopened as The General Morgan Inn, named for General John H Morgan.

Greeneville was the birthplace of Davy Crockett, and you can visit it at the Davy Crockett State Park, located along the Nolichucky River in Greeneville. You may find other historic places intriguing such as the Dickson Williams Mansion; the Doak House Museum; Babb Family Cabin; Bible Covered Bridge; as well as the cabin known as the Capitol of the Lost State of Franklin.

greenevilleGreeneville is full of history, shopping, and entertainment. You can visit for a week and not see and do everything. The area offers numerous antiques, gift, home décor and boutiques in the historic district and close by. Don’t miss Greeneville Antique Market, Park House Antiques, MacAbbey Road Antiquities, East Tennessee Glassware and Antiques, The Treasure Chest, or Ethan’s Attic for some who specialize in antiques. It’s not uncommon for customers to find items that have been a part of the local history. Broyle’s Feed Store and Emporium, The Burlap Bunny, Three Blind Mice and several others offer a variety of items including gifts, decor and other specialities. The merchants invite you to visit on ‘first Friday’s” and enjoy everything from farmers markets, food and merchandise vendors, and music on the street from 6 to 9 p.m.

Greeneville offers dining from casual to elegant and if you enjoy a specialty coffee or tea, are hungry for new cuisine, or just want something light, the Catalyst Coffee Company, Tipton Café, The Tannery Downtown, and Brumley inside the General Morgan Inn might tempt your taste buds. Most are within walking distance to the downtown shops.

In recent years, Greeneville has stepped up its venue of entertainment, the Capitol Theater, that was built in early 1930s, and is available for community and private events, and performances. Visit www.capitolgreeneville.org for booking. Their latest entertainment center, Niswonger Performing Arts Center, completed in 2004, seats 1,200 and features many well known performers. Three Dog Night will perform August 27. Peabo Bryson, Cheap Trick, Scotty McCleery, Sawyer Brown, Temptations, and Travis Tritt are just a few upcoming performances. Go to the their website- www.npacgreeneville.com for more info.

Last but most important, Leon and Diane Patterson shared that the warm hearts and friendly folks in Greeneville, Tennessee is really it’s heart and soul. They invite you to plan a history and shopping tour very soon. Be sure to let the businesses know you heard about them in the Busy Bee Trader.

By Maxine Bean Jones, Ocoee, Tennessee