Kingston Pike church reflects unique architectural heritage
John Shearer, Shopper News
Amid the numerous classic and stately homes and churches found along the eastern end of Kingston Pike near the University of Tennessee campus, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Knoxville still stands out.
However, the church’s conspicuousness is not due to any traditional architectural style, but rather its uniqueness. Appearing to be inspired by the midcentury modernist movement, the building has curved walls, large windows more typical of an office building, and a very unusual steeple.
And its stucco-like material on the exterior makes it also look more like a building that might be found in the desert region of the Southwestern United States.
The church, located at 3622 Kingston Pike, has caught the eyes of the numerous motorists passing it daily, and it has also captured the hearts of some church members who like its appeal and function.
“You get kind of used to it and don’t realize how unique it is,” said Cheryl Hamberger, president of the church’s executive board, while offering a tour of the building on Nov. 1. “And I love the reflection on the exterior. The trees are reflected, and whenever we take a picture, we see what is in bloom.”
She also likes the white color as a good symbol for purity, she added.
Another church member, Anne Clarke, who is a second reader for the services and an architect who studied at the University of Tennessee, also likes it.
“It is all the daylight (that comes through the windows) and the simplicity of it and the fact it’s making a unique statement in this particular area of Knoxville,” she said.
As the Shopper News begins its periodic series looking individually at the architecture and history of some of the churches on this stretch of Kingston Pike, a glance at the history of the church shows that it arrived there in the 1970s.
The church had been in the old Lockett home at 615 Hill Ave. on the downtown side of Henley Street since 1927 after receiving its charter in 1903, but in the late 1960s members bought a lot on Kingston Pike. It was during a time when other churches were moving out there.
Church member Robert Church, who was in a firm with Bruce McCarty, had designed plans for a two-story structure that ran more perpendicular to the street on the single lot. However, he died at about the time the church also acquired the adjoining lot through the purchase and gift of a church member.
As a result, the architectural firm of Morton and Sweetser drew the current plans on the larger lot. Clark Sweetser was a member of the church, Clarke and Hamberger said.
Allen and Allen Construction Company of Knoxville was the general contractor. The cornerstone just outside the main church entrance was laid on Dec. 1, 1975, and the first service was held in the church on May 16, 1976.
Besides the well-known front exterior, other features less conspicuous and pointed out during the tour of the building were a large meeting room and library area on the east end, and the Christian Science Reading Room just to the left as one enters the church. Here, one can purchase books. A board or meeting room is across the hall.
On the right or west end is the worship area with some 1970s-style wood adornments. Music is a big part of the church, and the sanctuary also features a pipe organ rebuilt in 1994 by Brad Rule using parts of two older organs, including one brought over from the West Hill Avenue building.
Behind the worship area are small rooms for musicians and readers, while behind the church is a nice garden space dating to when a home was at the site.
A newspaper article when the church opened said it was designed to complement the tree-covered lot, and it featured reflective glass and bold masonry. The firm was presented an Honor Award by the UT School of Architecture in 1976.
Going on 50 years later, the church is still drawing attention, including from its members.
“It is the perfect-sized church for our congregation and is easy upkeep,” said Hamberger.
Bearden theater students to present 'beast' of a show
John Shearer, Shopper News
When the Bearden High School theater program began planning a performance of “Shrek the Musical,” teacher and director Lauren Andrejko saw one big monster.
And it was not the ogre named Shrek, who tries to rescue a princess in a swamp full of fairytale characters. Instead, it was the show itself and the supposed challenges of trying to pull off the production.
“It is very hard technically. When you do a show, you can’t replicate animation,” she said, adding that other theater directors had also called the show “a beast” and that plenty of sets and props are needed.
Despite that, the theater department persevered with boldness just like a fairy tale character, and now it will be presenting the musical at the school Nov. 11-14 — at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Andrejko said the decision was made in August to do the musical, but the idea was prompted by former Bearden musical theater teacher Leann Dickson back in the spring when auditions for the theater classes were held.
“She said, ‘You’ve got the talent to do 'Shrek,’ ” Andrejko remembered her saying.
That sparked an interest and some inspiration, and soon the students got busy constructing appealing props and sets to adequately complement the acting talent. Everything from a large dragon puppet to a swamp castle to unique costumes will be a part of the show.
Helping with all this — and the person who will be paying close attention when the musical presentations begin — is senior Elyse Lundberg, the stage manager. She admitted her excitement about the show.
“I’m looking forward to it, but I am also nervous about it,” said the veteran of five semesters of theater classes. “If something goes wrong, it’s kind of on me.”
She also called "Shrek" a technically heavy show, but she thinks all the hard work will be worth it. Besides overseeing the work, she has been involved personally in helping construct the sets and props, including a 27-foot-long dragon puppet made of everything from fabric to PVC pipe.
She also has been building friendships and said that is what she enjoys the most about being involved in high school theater. “There is a great sense of community,” she said. “And you get to know everyone involved.”
And working on “Shrek” has been a crowning highlight of her involvement, she added.
“It’s been challenging and crazy, but it’s also been super fun. It’s an experience I’ll never forget. It is something super special.”
Other crew heads include Josh Leslie on set, Eleanor Mitchell with costumes, Cate Turner with props, and Melody Pelkey, who is overseeing the business operation. The assistant to the director is Eliot Goad.
Top acting roles include Jordan Hamilton as Shrek, Campbell Ella as Princess Fiona, Javier Castro as Donkey/Papa Ogre and Ethan Saunders as Lord Farquaad, among others.
Andrejko said the students are looking forward to presenting the show, and she is excited as well. “It’s been great to be able to work on the show,” she said, adding that the school lost money last year while having to do a video presentation and could not have paying attendees due to the pandemic. “It has been an undertaking.”
Tickets for “Shrek the Musical” are $15 for reserved seats and $12 for general admission and can be purchased at beardentheatre.com.
WORDS OF FAITH
We speak the names of those we've lost, and God heals us
John Tirro, Shopper News
Sunday we celebrated All Saints, entered the mystery that we are connected in communion with all who ever have or ever will commune.
As we hear from Isaiah, “On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of rich food… And he will destroy on this mountain… the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever” (Isaiah 25:6-7).
A mountain is an interesting place for a feast. You generally have to tote your stuff up there. Reminds me of a time camping with our 5-year-old, his kindergarten friend, and her parents.
We’d had rough experiences camping before, once with friends whose tent collapsed in a storm, who ended up in our tent pressed against its sides, which let water in on a sub-freezing night, another with our dog who’d recently been neutered, which involved some swelling I’ve probably already said enough about.
This time, I was determined it go well. We brought excellent wine, thick steak, our best, from scratch, buttermilk pancakes, and it was a feast, God’s gifts everywhere, sunlight dancing on leaves in the trees, a breeze lapping at ripples on the lake, sitting by the fire, late into the night, singing John Prine songs, a feast! God creates us for connection.
By contrast, God destroys, swallows up, the cruddiest picnic blanket ever, the shroud cast over all peoples, death.
One of the first songs I wrote, with Sam Gay — who, incidentally, was on that first trip with the collapsed tent — goes, “Let me tell you bout a place I been, and I hope I never go there again. It’s a town where lowdown memories stay, and it’s just one goodbye note away. You don’t have to move, you can sit still, and take a look around, you’re in… Lonelyville!” It goes on to sing about how everything goes gray, a fine, rollicking song about depression!
I’m no expert in grief, but there really can be that gray shroud that settles between you and your life after loss, betrayal, disappointment, or just the ordinary course of living. An immigrant couple comes from Italy with their young kid, it’s not working for mother and son, they go back, but the work is in America. Dad stays, sends money, Mom dies, Mussolini rises. The lonely boy crosses the ocean a third time. Pick a story from your family tree, there’s sadness, along with the triumph that got you here.
How do we be present to sadness, in a way that lets us be present to the fullness, the richness, of the gladness? This is part of why we gather on All Saints, to light candles, to toll bells, to say names of loved ones who’ve passed beyond the veil. It’s part of why we pray, serve, and worship together generally. It gives us a place to build trust, to speak the names, and to heal.
John Tirro is pastor of music and campus ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church. Info: sjlcknox.org.
Tech-support business expands into PC service
Al Lesar, Shopper News
More than three decades ago, while growing up on a farm in Corbin, Kentucky, 8-year-old Troy Shafer got his first computer.
“I was so proud of it,” he said.
He broke it later that day.
No big deal; his papaw, who operated a welding business as well as the farm, got it fixed.
“I was raised primarily by my grandparents,” Shafer said. “They understood the way the world was going. They knew computers were important. They were very forward thinking.”
That first computer was the foundation for the career Shafer, who has lived in Heiskell since 2012, has built for himself.
A degree in computer information systems from Cumberland College (now the University of the Cumberlands) set him on his journey that included several corporate and government stops until he finally opened his own business in October 2016.
Business and personal
“Everything I had done my whole life was focused on owning my own business,” Shafer said. “It was amazing one day to wake up and realize, ‘Wow, I did it.'”
What Shafer did was start Shafer Technology Solutions Inc., located in Bearden.
“At the time, we were trying to give the tech support for small businesses that big businesses would get,” Shafer said. “We’ve always been focused on the customer. That has never stopped being our main priority.”
What has changed over the course of five years has been that Shafer’s small business, which now has six employees, had been getting a lot of calls from people needing help with personal computers.
“The business and personal tech support represent their own challenges,” Shafer said.
“These days, technology is such an integral part of everyday life. It’s hard to do both.
“The business part is much more complicated. There are so many more moving pieces. But, when something breaks, each group needs a good answer.”
That’s when Shafer Tech for Home in Norris was born.
'People are getting to know about us'
Shafer’s Bearden location has remained the flagship headquarters of his empire, taking the name: Shafer Tech for Business. The Norris location (3324 Andersonville Highway), in a strip mall just east of Norris Freeway, opened its doors in March 2020, in the midst of the pandemic.
“It was a struggle at first, but now people are getting to know about us,” Shafer said.
“We’re getting a lot of people from Powell and north Knox County.”
In fact, Chad Turner, who mans the Norris location, is a Powell resident.
“I was here before the store was,” said Turner, who has more than 20 years of experience in the IT business. “I’ve been here more than two years getting things ready.”
When Turner tackles a repair job, the charge is a flat fee — $85, whether it takes one hour or eight hours.
“Everybody we have has that customer-first mentality,” Shafer said. “We just want to be able to solve some problems for people.”
Besides computer repair, the Norris location offers new and used laptops and personal computers and accessories. Also, custom-made gaming systems can be put together.
More than just help with computers
The possibilities for the 2,000-square-foot Norris location give Shafer hope for the future. With business on the upswing, there are several directions he can take the store.
With the holidays approaching, he is considering adding a line of products while enhancing the service experience. The store offers free WiFi and coffee for folks to come and browse.
“No matter what we do, our philosophy will be the same: Be honest and be a great value,” Shafer said. “All of our employees believe that. That’s how we’ve operated since that first day.”
Shafer also has plans for offering some classes for adults, including basic Facebook lessons as well as other computer-related areas of interest. For kids, he has employees trained in programming and robotics who may be able to share their knowledge.
“Our main challenge is to get the word out and let people know that we’re here,” Shafer said. “I thought being this close to the highway we’d gather more attention.
“On our business side, we have a salesman to talk with our clients. It’s not that way with the personal side. We rely on people coming to us. So many people don’t even know that we’re here.”
John T. O’Connor Senior Center offers emotional health class
Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News
Clinical psychologist and Holston Hills resident Mark LeMay always enjoyed teaching as part of his practice. He was big on handouts — easily referenced printed sheets with methods and techniques for improving his clients’ lives.
The former small animal vet who went back to school for a degree in psychology and then had a rewarding 30-year career in Jefferson City and Knoxville says he still has “the zeal of the converted.” Retired in 2020, he’s never lost his desire to help people.
When he reached out to the John T. O’Connor Senior Center and offered to lead a class in emotional well-being, the center’s manager, Calie Terry, thought it was a great idea, especially coming on the heels of a pandemic period of isolation for many seniors.
“I do believe that people have had time to think about themselves and re-evaluate. I do believe it’s good for humanity,” Terry said. “In a society where we’re so hung up on ‘go-go-go,’ a forced slowdown can be utilized for good things.”
Since April of this year, the center has welcomed seniors back in several stages, depending on the prescribed COVID protocols. After a period of unmasking in July, they reinstated their mask mandate in August. Painting and computer classes, twice-weekly film showings and socially distanced exercise classes — “anything you can do with a mask on, we’re doing!”
O’Connor already offered a grief support group, called “Loss and Life Changes,” facilitated by social worker Pat Green through UT Hospice. But, said Terry, “for seniors who are typically oftentimes suffering from mental health problems that often go unacknowledged, this pandemic has brought forth the opportunity for everyone to focus on their mental health.”
“Emotional Well-Being” kicked off in September.
LeMay focuses on nine key aspects of emotional health:
Stress and mood management
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT
Relaxation and sleep
LeMay teaches students to recognize stressors, and develop healthy, positive ways to deal with them.
“You have an event that triggers your beliefs and thoughts about the event, and that triggers your feelings. If someone is stressed out, they can learn to relax their body with abdominal breathing and muscle relaxation. Being calmer helps you you recognize what the stressor was.
"The emphasis is on our thoughts and beliefs because everything hinges on that. So many people don’t even have access to all the stuff that’s going on in their heads.”
Students also explore healthy ways to interact with other people, improving their relationships at home and in broader society. For instance, being assertive, said LeMay is “neither being aggressive like a bully nor passive like a doormat. Assertiveness is asking for what you need, saying no to what you don’t want and having good boundaries — standing up for yourself in ways that are respectful, both of yourself and other people.”
And how’s it going? “I think it’s going really well. The class members say they are getting a lot from it — participating, asking questions, sharing thoughts, feelings.”
Terry said, “I believe everything that we do here pays tribute to holistic health. Dr. LeMay is just passionate about emotional well-being, and the class has just really started taking off.”
For more info, call 865-523-1135 or visit knoxseniors.org/oconnor/.
California buyer purchases The Adelade for $12.5 million
Ali James, Shopper News
There were a number of competing bids from around the country for The Adelade, a 109-unit apartment complex in South Knoxville. Cohl Morgan and Kevin Tipton of SVN|Wood Properties managed to broker the sale with a winning bid of $12.5 million from the Moneil Investment Group.
“I grew up in South Knoxville and when I went to high school,” said Tipton.
The Adelade is on Sevier Avenue, just five minutes from downtown Knoxville, the University of Tennessee and the many entry points to the Urban Wilderness.
“The 109 units on the property were built around 1967,” said Morgan. “It was fully renovated by the previous owner and they added a new amenity center with a gym and saltwater pool. We represented the buyer out of California, and this is their first purchase in the state of Tennessee. They own hundreds of (millions' worth) of property across the U.S.”
Morgan and Tipton said their company specializes in multifamily properties. “Kevin and I are local, so it is nice to see Knoxville get attention,” said Morgan. “This property had multiple bidders.
"I think that it is great that out-of-state groups are taking notice of Knoxville, because for so long Nashville was a main attraction. It will make the multifamily property market even more competitive.”
The brokers said they are seeing Knoxville continuing to grow and become a top market for investors.
“Moneil Investment Group was attracted to South Knoxville because of the new apartment complexes, businesses, restaurants and the multiple houses being flipped and resold,” continued Morgan. “It was clear to them that South Knoxville is an extension of downtown Knoxville and many millennials are attracted to living there.”
Renters will benefit from a well-maintained, professionally managed property located just five minutes from downtown, without the downtown price tag, according to Morgan.
“When I was in school, The Adelade was in an area that you would not hang out in; it was rough,” said Tipton. “It is safer now, and like most of South Knoxville it has had a facelift.”
The previous owner extensively renovated the apartment complex, according to Morgan, including new flooring, paint, appliances, bathroom and kitchen fixtures.
“The Adelade has three dog parks on the property, brand new saltwater pool and multiple picnic and hangout areas,” he said. “Obviously the amenities center is brand new, but everything else has that relatively new and updated feel.”
When the property purchase closed on Oct. 29, the apartments were 98% occupied. Morgan said that can be attributed to the affordable apartment prices. Interested renters can contact the property managers via https://theadelade.com.
“We are multifamily property specialists,” said Morgan. “This is special to Kevin and I because he grew up here and I live close to The Adelade and I feel this purchase will continue to improve the area.”
Chili Cookoff the place to be on a rainy fall day
Nancy Anderson, Shopper News
For hundreds of Karns community members looking for something to do on a rainy fall day, the first Fall Festival and Chili Cookoff held at Karns Middle School Oct. 30 fit the bill.
Event coordinator Charlie Austin said the Fair Board decided to hold a chili cookoff because it’s a traditional fall activity and it gave the community a chance to come together at the middle school since the traditional Karns Fair in July was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.
“We wanted to bring the community together finally, and we also wanted to include the middle school in this family fun activity. We have the fair at the high school, a Christmas event at the elementary school, but nothing in the middle school. This is the perfect opportunity to get them involved with the community as well. The entire staff was tickled to death to be involved.”
About 22 craft venders offered everything from homemade wreaths to aprons to door signs. The cookoff featured stiff competition, with about 15 contestants bringing their very best chili recipes.
Tina Shelton, assistant principal at the middle school, won first place in the chili cookoff and threw down the gauntlet for other principals in the Karns area to try to take the first place trophy next year.
Laura Hipsher won second place and Terri Austin won third.
Commissioner Larsen Jay won the trophy for worst chili, but it was all in fun, and he took the award in good-natured style.
Karns youth played a big part in the success of the day. JrROTC helped the vendors unload and load. Jr National Honor Society from the middle school ran the concession stand offering nachos, hotdogs, and assorted candy. Art students offered face painting in the children’s midway free of charge, while the Girl Scouts Beaver Creek Service Unit ran all the games in the midway. Karns High School basketball coach Tyler Robinson and several members of the girls basketball team were on hand selling baked goods and T-shirts to fund new uniforms.
Several dignitaries were in attendance, including Mayor Glenn Jacobs, as well as the Karns Fairest of the Fair Court. Knox County school board member Betsy Henderson entered a chili in the competition, as did Commissioner Terry Hill.
Perhaps the most entertaining dignitary was Andy the Armadillo from Texas Roadhouse Turkey Creek. The restaurant helped sponsor the event and donated more than 3,000 tiny ramekins for chili tasting.
The next Fair Board event is the Christmas Parade scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 4 at Ingles Markets on Oak Ridge Highway. Lineup is at 8 a.m. Austin said participants should come early; the parade kicks off at 9 a.m. sharp.
Amazingly, they all survived without me
Leslie Snow, Shopper News
I wake up with a sore throat, but I chalk it up to allergies. I drive my folks to their doctor’s appointments, take my grandchildren to preschool, and go for my usual morning walk.
When I start coughing a little later in the day, I get a COVID-19 test and a flu test just to be sure. And when they’re negative, I tell myself I can power through whatever germs are attacking my immune system.
“Who has time to be sick?” I say as I pull into the nursery to buy some flowers for my mom’s raised beds. “Not me,” I answer as I plant the flowers later in the afternoon.
For the next few days, I ignore my congestion and sinus headache. I pretend my fatigue isn’t real. When my husband remarks on my worsening cough, I tell him “It’s just a little cold.” There’s no room in my life for illness. My calendar shows two doctor’s appointments for my dad and three for my mother. I can’t afford to slow down. I can’t take the time to rest. There are too many people who depend on me.
As the week drags on, I become more stubborn. I tell my mother we don’t have to cancel our big Sunday brunch. “I can cook scrambled eggs and toast bagels in my sleep — even with a cold,” I say with a slightly forced smile. “Everyone is still welcome. The more the merrier. I’ll just wash my hands a lot and forgo the hugs.”
My family takes me at my word. They come for Sunday brunch, and I serve them happily even though I’m tired. The only time I acknowledge my illness is when I decide not to make my homemade coffee cake or pumpkin bread. I keep up the charade of good health and vigor until I can’t.
Because while everyone is eating and watching football, something shifts in me. I find a blanket and curl up on the couch. My head is aching. My throat is on fire. And the congestion I’ve been ignoring has moved to my chest. I turn to my husband with something like shock and disbelief and say, “I think I’m really sick now.”
I have no choice, then, but to retreat to my room and curl up in my bed. And when I start to complain about all the things I have to do, my husband shushes me. “Everything that has to be done will get done. The rest can wait.”
And as it turned out, my husband was right. My parents' caregiver, Rena, took my parents to their appointments. My husband helped too, driving our grandkids to preschool so I could rest. My mom found things in her freezer to heat for dinner so I didn’t have to cook. Zack ran errands for me. Jordan and Joe pitched in, too.
Despite my worries, everyone in my orbit survived my illness. They didn’t starve without me. They didn’t stay home because I couldn’t drive them somewhere. They were all fine. And if I can hear it, I know there is a message in there for me. There are lessons to be learned from my week of pretending to be fine.
I’m not as important as I think I am. I don’t have to do everything for everybody. Illness is not weakness.
I’ve written the words and I've said them aloud. They’re going to be printed in black and white.
Now I just have to repeat them the next time I get sick.
And of course, I have to believe them.
Leslie Snow may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community