Put it on your calendars. The first was a lot of fun last night and it’s an event that will surely grow. With little publicity, the Daylight Building hosted its first Third Thursday Block Party and several hundred people enjoyed the first event. Starting at 5:00 and running until 8:00, people came, visited and drifted off as others arrived. Most of the photographs in this article were taken just after the party started and before most people arrived, which was good for getting clear shots.
It was another example of how Knoxville continues to be a city with a small-town feel. As usual, friends abounded and introductions were made at every turn to new people as concentric circles grew larger. I finally met John Sanders, whose work I’ve known, but whose path I’ve never exactly crossed. I saw Chris and Steven and congratulated them on their pending wedding and talked to Jerry, Millie, Laura, Brent, Johnathan, Katie, Art, Dash, Michael, Jack, Samantha, Mary Katherine, KT, Barbara and, well, you get the idea. Rick Emmet, Jack Neeley and Kim Trent passed through.
Several food trucks served the customers well; Hoof, Bulls Bar BQ, Three Bears Coffee and Good Golly Miss Tamale. The tamales sold out and the other trucks did great business, as well. I had a pork belly sandwich sort of by accident. I was thinking “bacon burger,” saw BLT and got it only to realize later what I had done. Ironic that just a couple of nights ago Urban Woman and I were saying, “Who would eat something called pig stomach?” It was great, of course. I’ve not had anything from the Hoof Truck that wasn’t awesome. Urban Woman went for some peach pie from Just Ripe and we each had a cup of coffee from Three Bears Coffee (what we drink at home).
A musical surprise was on hand when I arrived. Nancy Solomon, owner of RALA and Reruns said she hadn’t told me in advance because she wasn’t sure they could be there, but they were there – three members this night – doing their business. This was the first time I’ve seen them attract the ladies and they had that going on. This is the reason every guy with talent wants to be in a band and why the rest of us carry a guitar around from time to time.
The event, of course, also highlights a great building on a great block of Union Avenue. The block only has two buildings: The Pembroke on the southern side and the Daylight on the north. The Pembroke boasts some of the nicest and oldest condos in the city, as well as the only roof-top swimming pool.
The Daylight Building has probably appeared on this blog as many times as any building. It easily could have been demolished for parking. I first saw it when we parked behind it to go into the rear entrance to Watson’s back in the 1980′s. In the 1990′s I brought Urban Daughter to the building for acting classes. By the 2000′s it looked pretty rough and faced an uncertain future before David Dewhirst developed it, slowly uncovering a jewel with elegant copper finishes. It now boasts apartments on the upper floors and in the rear which have been fully occupied since they were finished three years ago.
The retail on the street level has been remarkably stable. John Black Photography occupies the eastern store front and Amanda and John had a lot to do with this event coming together. They’ve also hosted fund-raisers and Rhythm and Blooms and are simply all-around good - and very talented – people. Just Ripe offers groceries and fresh baked pies along with other home-cooked items. Kristen Faerber and Charlotte Tolley are the owner operators and you may know Charlotte from the Market Square Farmers’ Market. Union Avenue Books, operated by my old friend Flossie McNabb and her daughter, Bunnie, is an essential part of the cultural fabric of the city. Reruns Boutique, one of the oldest businesses downtown now occupies the western most active business in the building.
The Happy Envelope which sat on the western end of the building has moved to a Jackson Avenue address due to a need for larger space. Since its new beginning as a mixed use building, this is the first time a business to move. It’s a pretty remarkable record compared to businesses nationally. Still, they could use your help. If you want our center city to be more than simply a square surrounded by parking on one (admittedly spectacular) main street, you need to support the efforts to expand the city’s footprint. It’s an investment in our future as a viable downtown.
In the meantime, just come around for some fun on Third Thursdays and for other great events all along. Meet some very good people doing good things. You’ll often see me there and I’d love to run into you. Have a great weekend and let’s hope the rain doesn’t do too much damage to the Hola Festival.