I visited Dolly Parton's hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee, to see where she got her start.
A statue of Parton playing guitar in front of the Sevier County Courthouse honors her legacy.
Vibrant murals and boutiques like Jolene's make Sevierville worth a visit.
On a recent trip to Tennessee, I visited Dolly Parton's hometown of Sevierville.
Parton grew up in a log cabin in Locust Ridge, located southeast of Sevierville. She shared the two-room home with her parents and 11 siblings. While the original cabin is fenced off and closed to visitors, fans can step into a replica of her childhood home at Dollywood.
My first stop was Sevier County High School, Parton's alma mater.
Parton graduated from Sevier County High School in 1964.
The school was closed for the summer, but a local told me that Parton's old marching band uniform is on display inside.
Next, I visited LeConte Medical Center, where Parton has funded the Dolly Parton Center for Women's Services and the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit.
LeConte Medical Center opened in 2010 with the help of Parton's philanthropy and fundraising.
As of 2020, the Dolly Parton Birthing Unit has delivered over 10,000 babies.
"I am so proud to call LeConte Medical Center the hometown hospital for my people," Parton said at a 2020 event marking the hospital's 10th anniversary, CBS affiliate WVLT in Knoxville reported.
This brick building in downtown Sevierville once housed The Pines Theater, where Dolly Parton played her first paid gig.
The real Pines Theater closed in 1957, but is currently being remodeled into an entertainment venue, according to ABC affiliate WATE.
Dollywood's recreation of The Pines Theater, located in Jukebox Junction, can hold 1,000 audience members and hosts musical performances.
One of the main attraction in Sevierville is a bronze statue of Parton outside the Sevier County Courthouse.
The statue was dedicated by the people of Sevier County in 1987, a year after Dollywood opened.
Sculpted by Jim Gray, the statue depicts Parton perched on a rock, smiling and strumming a guitar.
"I've had the good fortune of getting to travel all over this world. I've had all kinds of wonderful awards. But I think probably one of the things I'm proudest of in my whole career, my whole life, really, is this statue of me in the courthouse yard in Sevierville," Parton said in a 2011 video.
There's even a butterfly on the neck of Parton's guitar.
Parton, who wrote a song called "Love is Like a Butterfly," often features butterflies in her outfits and staging.
The statue is part of the Tennessee Music Pathways series highlighting locations across the state that are part of its music history.
A project of Tennessee's Department of Tourist Development, the series includes birthplaces, grave sites, record shops, music venues, and historic markers for artists across genres with connections to Tennessee.
A boutique named Jolene's On Bruce Street sits around the corner from the statue.
The store's name is a nod to Parton's hit song "Jolene."
Jolene's sells a variety of Dolly Parton-themed apparel and souvenirs.
The shop sold smaller items like keychains and stickers, as well as t-shirts and denim jackets.
Across the street, a store called Smoky Mountain Wildflower references another Parton song.
Parton wrote "Wildflowers" and released it with Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt on their joint 1987 album "Trio," which won a Grammy award.
A mural shows a young Parton ordering a hamburger at Red's Cafe, which used to be located on Bruce Street in downtown Sevierville.
Paul "Red" Clevenger opened Red's Cafe in 1946, the same year Parton was born. When she was six years old, Parton ate her first hamburger there.
While the original eatery is no longer open, Red's Drive-In at Dollywood recreates the magic of one of Parton's favorite hometown spots.
Another mural inspired by Parton, "Wings of Wander," provided a fun photo-op.
Created by Pinkie Mistry, the mural measures 16 feet high and 20 feet wide. As touristy as I felt, I couldn't resist the chance to pose for a picture there.
Located just six miles from Dollywood and all of its attractions, Sevierville is worth a stop.
With its landmarks, murals, and cute themed boutiques, Downtown Sevierville is a great place to spend an afternoon and get a glimpse into Parton's humble beginnings.
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