Three charming East Tennessee towns you should visit
Twelve bronzed statues situated high on a hill overlooking Downtown Clinton are reminders of a landmark event that happened more than 50-years ago. Known as the Clinton 12, these African-Americans were the first to integrate an all-white public high school in the South. Today, the Green McAdoo Museum (located behind the statues on Foley Hill) tells the story of the Clinton 12 and the events that followed after segregation ended at Clinton High School.
Clinton is the County Seat of Anderson County. The town of about 10,000 stretches out along the banks of the Clinch River (or the tailwaters of Melton Hill Lake depending on your perspective.) The Green McAdoo Museum is one of many reasons to pay Clinton a visit.
Start your visit Downtown, the heart of this more than 200-year old town. Market and Main Streets are lined with more than a dozen antique stores and home to two Antiques Festivals each year making it a “pickers” dream. If antiques and collectibles aren’t your thing, don’t worry, stores like Hoskins in the Flat and Johnson and Company offer unique gift items for anyone on your list.
Speaking of Hoskins, the original store is the one on Market Street, but just around the corner you’ll find the second store, still operating as a drug store with a 1940’s era lunch counter and fountain. It’s definitely a hot spot for lunch in this small town or for enjoying a milkshake after school. Hoskins is easy to spot, with its bright neon signage.
Right beside Hoskins is the classic Ritz Theater complete with its lighted marquee and giant neon letters. The Art Deco style theater was built around the same time as Hoskins. It’s a great place to see a movie, including current hits, like Avengers: Infinity War. Tickets are only $5 and while you can’t catch a 3-D film here, the showings are all digital with modern surround sound.
Right under the Big Green Bridge (US 25-W), as locals call it, you’ll find the city’s greenway. This path along the Clinch River takes you on the backside of Lakefront Park. It’s an easy walk from the end of the Greenway then into the Downtown area. You will find another great walk along the river just behind Second Baptist Church on the east side of town.
There aren’t many towns that can boast being the home of a President, but Greeneville (founded in 1783) is one of them. Andrew Johnson called it home both before and after he became President. Today, you can check out two of his homes, the tailor shop he ran and the National Cemetery where he and many of his descendants are buried. They are all part of the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site.
Walking in Downtown Greeneville transports you to a different time as many of the buildings date back to the 1800’s. The General Morgan Inn and Conference Center makes use of nearly a block’s worth of buildings and provides an historic setting for dining and lodging. Nearby is the Dickson-William’s Mansion, a beautifully restored home that also served many years as a hospital.
Greeneville is home to the Niswonger Performing Arts Center, a great place to catch a concert or show. That’s also true for the Capitol Theater across from the Greene County Courthouse.
While Andrew Johnson gets most of the attention, with highways, banks and more named after him, he’s not the only big name from Greene County. Just a few miles outside of town, you’ll find Davy Crockett Birthplace State Park. Contrary to the popular TV theme song, this frontiersman was not born on a mountaintop. Instead he was born on the banks of the Nolichucky River near the Greene/Washington County line.
The historic Hale Springs Inn sits along Main Street in Rogersville, TN. The stately red brick building has played host to three U.S. Presidents and remains open for both lodging and dining. It is the centerpiece of a small downtown business district where history comes alive around every corner. Rogersville is one of the oldest towns in the state.
This small town along Highway 11-W is home to one of the state’s oldest courthouses. Just across the street is the Overton Lodge, a Masonic Temple built in the early 1800’s. Further down the street, you’ll find a variety of places to shop including the Mountain Star Mall and Heritage Galleries, a place that nearly overwhelmed me when I stepped inside. This unique shop spanning three levels is filled with thousands of antiques, collectibles and art work and the owner said there’s even more that’s not even out on the floor.
Strolling through Downtown Rogersville is easy to do. Wide sidewalks, benches and a small park provide places to rest and soak in the town's charm. Along the way check out the old cemetery next to the First Presbyterian Church, the old depot, and the Tennessee Newspaper and Printing Museum. Just outside the city you’ll find Cherokee Lake and several scenic drives along TN Route 70 & 66.