Thursday, June 23, 2011

Exploring Loudon Tennessee

Now that Laurie and I live in East Tennessee, it’s time to start exploring and researching a few of our local communities.  There is a lot of history and longevity in this area of the country with many families having moved into the area prior to the 1800’s.

I decided to start with Loudon Tennessee, the county seat for a county with the same name... Loudon County is located on the south bank of the Tennessee River, just downstream from the Fort Loudoun Dam.  The county was formed from 3 other counties back in 1870, and for a few days, it was called Christiana County.  It was renamed Loudon County, in honor of Fort Loudoun, which is located in nearby Monroe County.  I haven’t found any information regarding the difference in spelling but, if I had to guess, to avoid confusion with the postal system, it was spelled Loudon to differentiate itself from Loudoun County Virginia.

The town of Loudon had its beginnings when James Blair started ferry service across the Tennessee River not long after the Blair family arrived in the area in the 1790’s.  The Blair family became embroiled in a 15-year battle of lawsuits with Cherokee leader ‘Pathkiller’, over the rights to the land the ferry was based on.  Eventually, the Blair’s won the suit.  By the 1940’s, there was a general store, a large storehouse, a steamboat landing, the ferry crossing and several homes.  The Blair’s controlled ferry traffic across the river for most of the 1800’s.

Note: Family predecessor Captain John Blair achieved fame during the Revolutionary War at the Battle of King’s Mountain.  For his services, he was awarded a land grant in Tennessee.  He had 6 sons and 4 daughters. 

This is Annabell’s Emporium, a large antique, consignment and gift shop right at the south end of the US Hwy. 11 bridge over the Tennessee River.  This store is on the main square in downtown Loudon.  Annabell’s also conducts estate sales from time to time.  For a map and additional information, go to

By 1851, the town was known as Blairsville.  Wiley Blair laid out lots for the town but they failed to sell.  Except for the ferry, Wiley was bought out by S. M. Johnson & Co.  The Johnson family also owned a cotton gin press, a hemp breaker, a grist mill and a general store.  They renamed the town Loudon in 1858.  The city of Loudon per se wasn’t incorporated as such until 1927. 

This is the descriptive mural that was painted on the side wall of Annabell’s… It pictures the beginnings of Loudon as a port city on the Tennessee River.  The first steamboat to arrive at Loudon was the ‘The Atlas’ ca. 1826. 

This is the 3rd iteration of the Lyric Theatre… The first one was built in 1912 and it burned down in 1934.  Its replacement burned down in 1942 and the current theatre didn’t have a roof when restoration started.  From time to time, entertainers and special events are staged in this small theatre.  For more information on the Lyric Theatre, go to

This nice looking building in downtown Loudon has condos on the second level with retail and office operations occupying the first floor.  Here we can see Audrey’s Hair Port and, one of the most important retailers in town, (at least from our point-of-view), The Grove Wine & Spirits.  For more on ‘The Grove’, check it out at  The phone number for Audrey’s Hair Port is 865-458-9090.

Greer’s Home Furnishings occupies almost an entire block right across from the county courthouse.  Greer’s has been in business in Loudon since 1890!  Check them out at

This is a photo that Laurie took of the railroad bridge over the Tennessee River at Loudon.  In 1848, Loudon was connected to Dalton GA via the East Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia Railroad.  For several years, Loudon was the northern terminus for the railroad and the place where the riverboats, the ferry and the railroads met…accelerating the town’s growth and prosperity.  The first railroad bridge across the Tennessee River near Loudon was completed in 1855.

This is the old Loudon County Courthouse.  The land for the town square and the courthouse was donated by the Johnson family and the courthouse was completed in 1872 at a cost of $14,200.  Much of the county’s business is conducted in the new county buildings that have been built just north of this structure.

Of interest is the fact that the only public hanging in Loudon County occurred in 1883, when Andy Taylor was hung for murdering the Hamilton County Sheriff and a deputy in Philadelphia TN. (Also located in Loudon County)

The county itself was created or cobbled together from 3 other counties in 1870.  The town of Loudon was selected as the county seat due to its prosperity and growth. (Note: As of the 2009, the population of the town of Loudon was 4,970)

The Carmichael Inn is the oldest surviving structure in Loudon.  James Blair’s brother-in-law, John Hudson Carmichael built the original portion of the Inn back in 1910.  The two story log structure was the stopping place for stage coach passengers near the ferry crossing.  As of late, this historic building has cycled through a number of restaurants…with a new one starting up in the last few months.

This old building now houses ‘The General Store’.  It’s a two-story antique shop located about a block south of the Loudon town square.  It’s located on US Rte. 11…the address is 411 Mulberry Street. 

This is another of the oldest buildings in Loudon.  It’s the original Blair’s Ferry Storehouse and it was built in the 1830’s.  The building has obviously come upon hard times but it is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

No less than four original Blair family houses still survive in town.  They were built in 1838, ca. 1845, 1857 and 1864.

Now this is a truly professional photo…and a good one to end my rather long blog/story with.  I ‘borrowed’ it from the Chamber of Commerce website and it does a great job of showing the focal point of downtown Loudon.  Three more key merchants can be clearly seen in this photo.  The Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor, Mark’s Downtown Diner and the Loudon Mercantile store. 

For more on the top notch Tic-Toc Ice Cream Parlor, check out my blog entry at  To check out Mark’s Downtown Diner, their facebook site can be found at  Loudon Mercantile is where Laurie buys all of our hard candy for the candy jar.  Check them out at


  1. You guys are so cool. I've lived here 17 years longer than you and you already know way more than me.

  2. I'm in the lineage of the Blairs of Loudon, TN. Someday, maybe I can travel to this area and look at my ancestors' home lands. Hazel Scates MacArthur, Oklahoma.