Lenoir Museum / Historical Complex

For more informaiton and tour reservations, contact 865-494-9688 or 865-426-7461 or email michael.mlekodaj@tn.gov

Admission is Free. Located on Freeway 441

Hours:  Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Lenoir Museum contains artifacts from Early Americana which were collected for over 60 years by Will G. Lenoir and his wife Helen and donated by the Lenoirs to the State of Tennessee. The Lenoirs strongly desired that the rapidly, changing times not wipe out an appreciation of the hard work and ingenuity that were a part of everyday life. They searched for, bought and stored away artifacts to preserve an understanding of that life. It was not just the artifacts they collected, but also the stories of the people behind them and their use. Many thought that Mr. Lenoir was “crazy” to pay for items they had discarded to their barn or shed.

Numerous items in this museum would have been lost had they not caught the eye of the Lenoir’s. Sometimes only one board from a wooden bucket would still be visible, or one chair leg, and Mr. Lenoir would scratch in the dirt, straw, or worse, searching for the other pieces. He occasionally found all the parts and put them back together again. When all the parts could not be found, he would make parts necessary for restoration, or locate an artisan who could do the job.

In his searches throughout the countryside he discovered a few craftsman skilled in producing items, such as wooden churns no longer in use. He brought these artists to the attention of others and encouraged appreciation of the old time crafts.

Some items Mr. Lenoir would follow for years trying to buy, such as the barrel organ. But it was not just treasures of the rich he sought; he was interested in everyday tools such as the spittoon kicked back and forth by a couple who lived near the museum site. It was the Lenoir’s dream to see their collection kept together and displayed for the public’s enjoyment and enrichment.

TVA donated 6 acres of land facing the Clinch River on Hwy. 441 just below Norris Dam, which provides a beautiful setting for the Lenoir Museum, Crosby Threshing Barn and 18th Century Rice Grist Mill. This “touch” museum has something for almost everyone’s interest, since the Lenoir’s collected Indian artifacts, fine china, pressed glass, furniture, farm implements, bottles, bells, baskets, rocks and historical documents.

Mr. Lenoir enjoyed sharing his stories with museum visitors, well into his 90th year, as he and Helen had done in their home for years before the museum opened. Learn what a stanhope is, what a lithopone is, how a “tar rock” was used, and see how fascinating mousetraps are. Handle gently and help preserve this museum for the many who will come after you.

Each Sunday, area musicians bring their guitars, fiddles, banjos, and other instruments to the museum to share East Tennessee traditional music. The place comes alive as listeners and performers enjoy the fun. Everyone is always welcome to bring their own instrument or just enjoy the music!

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