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Alice Brehm Williamson Elkmont Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3753

This collection documents the last years of the Wonderland Hotel and village at Elkmont, spanning from the 1970s into the early 1990s. It details the ownership arrangement of the land and leases of the buildings as well as the history of the community.

Included are correspondence between various people and The Wonderland Club and Elkmont Preservation Committee. These correspond to the running of the community of Elkmont, but especially the steps taken to attempt to preserve the area from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Records in this collection include minutes and laws of the associations found at Elkmont, forms and information regarding the preservation of sites of historical significance, as well as other miscellany.

Also included are photographs and post cards from the village at Elkmont, as well as newspaper clippings and other publication documenting the area and history of the village, its cottages and hotel.

Nanyehi is a pictorial book that documents a stage production of an influential Cherokee woman from the past in the Great Smoky Mountain Region.

Dates

  • 1970 - 1994

Language

The language of the materials is English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

0.5 Linear Feet

Abstract

This collection documents the last years of the Wonderland Hotel and village at Elkmont, spanning from the 1970s until the area's closure in 1992. It details the ownership arrangement of the land and leases of the buildings as well as the history of the community. Included are correspondence, records, photographs and newspaper columns concerning the Elkmont community and the Wonderland Hotel.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Little River Lumber Company established the town of Elkmont, Tennessee, in 1908 as a base for its logging operations in the area. By 1910, the company began selling plots of land to hunting and fishing enthusiasts from Knoxville, who established the "Appalachian Club" just south of the logging town. In 1912, the Wonderland Park Hotel was constructed on a hill overlooking Elkmont. A group of Knoxville businessmen purchased the Wonderland in 1919 and established the "Wonderland Club." Over the next two decades, the Appalachian Club and Wonderland Club evolved into elite vacation areas where East Tennessee's wealthy could gather and socialize.

Upon the creation of the national park in the 1930s, most of Elkmont's cottage owners were given lifetime leases. These were converted to 20-year leases in 1952, and renewed in 1972. The National Park Service refused to renew the leases in 1992, and under the park's general management plan, the hotel and cottages were to be removed. In 1994, however, the Wonderland Hotel and several dozen of the Elkmont cottages were listed on the National Register of Historic Places as Elkmont Historic District, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, sparking a 15-year debate over the fate of the historic structures. In 2009, the National Park Service announced plans to restore the Appalachian Clubhouse and 18 cottages and outbuildings in the Appalachian Club area (which were older and more historically significant) and remove all other structures, including the Wonderland Annex, as the main hotel had collapsed in 2005.

The Wonderland Hotel served as the only hotel operating within the Great Smoky National Park. The hotel consisted of 26 rooms, no two the same. There was no television or phone service provided for the visitors, but rather the hotel boasted a wraparound veranda with tables and rocking chairs as well as swings, in addition to a large common rooms and a dining room. The Wonderland Hotel served local style meals, family style, to its clients three times a day. Locally grown and hunted food was regularly featured on the menu and fish caught in the adjacent stream was frequently served. Recreation was found in the form of the nearby river and woods extending to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. When the twenty-year leases of the Appalachian Club expired in 1972, the members of the Wonderland Club joined with the Elkmont Preservation Association which received a new twenty-year lease. The Elkmont Preservation Association retained the right to operate the Wonderland Hotel. The Hotel served its last customers on November 15, 1992. Over the following years, portion of the hotel was lost to fire or collapse due to disrepair. By 2005, the rest of the hotel had collapsed and the National Park Service contracted for the remnants to be dismantled. The historically significant pieces of the hotel (doors, keys, windows and frames) were set aside for preservation.

Alice Brehm Williamson served on the Elkmont Preservation Committee and oversaw efforts to maintain the rights to the cottages at Elkmont, as well as The Wonderland Hotel. She resided in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Arrangement

This collection consists of 9 folders.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480