One of the oldest cities in East Tennessee, Maryville was named for Mary Grainger Blount, the wife of territorial governor William Blount. It is the home of Maryville College, a four-year college founded in 1819. Maryville College was among the first southern schools to admit Native Americans, African Americans, and women.
On the northern outskirts of Maryville is Alcoa, established as a company town for the Aluminum Corporation of America in 1914. ALCOA remains an important economic engine for Blount County.
The Sam Houston Schoolhouse (3650 Sam Houston Schoolhouse Rd., 865/983-1550, www.samhoustonhistoricschoolhouse.org, Tues.–Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. 1–5 p.m., $1) is the one-room schoolhouse where Sam Houston taught for about a year beginning in 1812. Houston, one of early Tennessee’s most remarkable citizens, was mostly self-educated. Raised in part by the Cherokee, who named him Raven, Houston went on to be governor of Tennessee, president of the Republic of Texas, and senator and governor of the state of Texas.
The Sam Houston Schoolhouse was built around 1794 by area settlers who wanted a place for their children to be educated. Several different teachers held class in this little one-room schoolhouse until Houston’s arrival in 1812. Houston, who took up teaching in order to pay off his debts, stayed for only a year. But his name has remained tied with the institution up to the present day.
Today, the Sam Houston Schoolhouse re-creates early schools on the Tennessee frontier. Reenactments can be arranged for groups.
Accommodations and Food
Knoxville’s hip-funky eating establishment, the Tomato Head (211 W. Broadway, 865/981-1080, Mon. 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Tues.–Thurs. 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.–9 p.m., $5–12), has a downtown Maryville location. Come here for pizza by the slice or the pie, sandwiches, salads, and daily specials, all made from scratch from the best ingredients.
Southland Books (601 E. Broadway, 865/984-4847, daily 10 a.m.–1 p.m.) is an excellent used bookstore, popular meeting place, art gallery, and coffee shop. Stop in at any time for a pick-me-up pastry and coffee drink. Owner Lisa Misosky serves a special home-made lunch special every Wednesday.
Located at McGhee Tyson Airport is the Hilton Knoxville Airport (2001 Alcoa Hwy., Alcoa, 865/970-4300, www.hiltonknoxvilleairport.com, $150–190). Its 326 guest rooms offer work desks, high-end bedding, coffeemakers, and MP3-player plug-ins.
© Susanna Henighan Potter from Moon Tennessee, 5th Edition