As the Knoxville News Sentinel reported yesterday, Happy Holler has been named to the historic registry. Apparently, the Metropolitan Planning Commission nominated the district and the designation is awarded to cultural resources or areas which merit preservation for historical reasons.
Happy Holler does have a rich history, some of it quite scruffy. Known as a great place for libational relief during prohibition, it also became quite known for violence, great music and general all-around quirkiness. It could be considered the city’s crazy uncle. We love him, sometimes he’s messy, but he’s ours. They probably have more scruffy in them than anywhere else in the city.
A number of businesses have settled in along the main block for some time now: Relix Theater, Chop Shop, Central Flats and Taps, White Orchid Bridal and Raven Records along the north side and Friend’s Antique Market and Taoist Tai Chi Society have spots. Also on that side of the road and, I believe, the oldest business currently in operation on the block, the Time Warp Tea Room may be the only biker tea room in the region – or the world? Club XYZ next door has been around for a number of years as well.
Move just off the main block and you’ll find many other quirky businesses as well as more recent arrivals. The Original Freezo has been in operation since 1942 and sits just to the west of the main block. Toots Little Honky Tonk is just around the corner. I’ve written about Retrospect which is on the next block and new renovation work is in process in the space next to that.
Of course if you go farther afield, you find a host of businesses which are arguably in or not in actual Happy Holler all the way down to Broadway. Three Rivers Market, Magpies, Holly’s Corner, Hops and Hollers and more line the corridor that is seeing an increased pace of development. In some ways it may be in for a struggle to retain its funky soul while absorbing more economic activity.
But for now, it’s a time to celebrate a very cool recognition and to thank everyone responsible for this scruffy little area. If you don’t make it out there often or haven’t been in a long time, it may be time to make a spot for it in your plans. It’s worth a look.