AAME is an arts council formed as a service organization for artists, arts organizations and other cultural endeavors throughout the Mountain Empire.

News

3 Redneck Tenors to Perform for E.W. King Museum Fundraiser

09.17.2005

BRISTOL, TN — The Bristol Historical Association will present 3 Redneck Tenors Oct. 6 at the Paramount Center for the Arts. The performance begins at 8 PM. A Patrons Party will be held at 6 PM. Proceeds will go to the E.W. King House Museum project. For tickets, call the Paramount Box Office: 423-274-8920.

In the melodic wake of Three Tenors, Three Irish Tenors, and Three Mo' Tenors comes a new breed of tenors from more humble origins — 3 Redneck Tenors: A New Musical Adventure.

The extravaganza, which features classically trained veteran artists from Broadway and world opera stages, is like Greater Tuna meets Das Barbecu — down home fun with big city music! 3 Redneck Tenors includes a rotating cast of opera stars such as Donald Sherrill, Jay Hunter Morris, Kelly Anderson, Steven Sanders and Matthew Lord.

Join Billy Ray, Billy Bob and Billy Joe as they mix NASCAR with La Boheme, light beer with Carmen, and even kick up a little dust with Madame Butterfly. You'll travel with these three cousins from their modest beginnings in Paris, Texas all the way to their triumphant debut at New York's famous Carnegie Hall.

The E.W. King home is historically significant due to the prominent impact which the home's original owner, Edward Washington King, had on the growth and development of the twin cities of Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia.

The house is one of the few remaining homes built at the beginning of the 20th century in Bristol and provides an excellent example of Queen Anne architecture. In addition, the building rests atop the hill which is also the site of Shelby's Fort, an important way station for pioneers heading west in the late years of the 18th century.

The home was donated to the Bristol Historical Association in 1997. The organization plans to restore the structure to its original grandeur and use the building as a museum. The house will then become the home of artifacts relating to important events associated with the property and its impact on the region.

Historical Background and Significance

Born in 1852 in Sullivan County, TN. E.W. King was a descendant of settlers who first moved to the region about 1778. King first moved to Bristol in 1878 where he opened a small retail business in what was then little more than a village which straddled the Virginia-Tennessee state line.

Both Bristol and King's business grew over the intervening years and by 1893 King had built a new building and expanded his business, the E.W. King Company, becoming the first exclusively wholesale business between Roanoke, VA and Knoxville, TN. In 1901, King and his brother, Anson, opened the King Brothers Shoe Company which grew to be one of the four largest wholesale distributors of shoes exclusively in the United States.

Although his economic impact on the development of Bristol was important, King's involvement in the development of several city institutions was of even greater historical significance. In 1880, he and George C. Pyle prepared and presented a petition to Bristol's Board of Mayor and Aldermen requesting the establishment of a formal system of public education be established in the town. Shortly after the ordinance establishing a school system was passed on April 10, 1880, King was elected to serve on the city's first school board.

King was instrumental in the establishment of the Bristol YMCA, he gave invaluable assistance in the establishment of King's Mountain Memorial Hospital, and he was largely responsible for providing the financial assistance which prevented King College from closing during its early struggle to become an institution of higher learning for the area.

King was President and later Chairman of the Board of the First National Bank of Bristol, a member of the Board of Trustees for King College for more than 50 years, and was one of the first honorary members of the Rotary Club of Bristol.

E.W. King's impact on the history and growth of Bristol, Tennessee-Virginia may be best judged by the reaction of both city governments upon his death. Quoting the Bristol Herald Courier obituary on November 25, 1945: "Few civic enterprises were launched in Bristol during the past half century with which Mr. King was not prominently identified, and in a majority of these he assumed the leading role." In respect for King's contributions to the region, the city offices for both sides of town were closed on the day of his funeral as were most downtown businesses.

Although the exact date of the construction of the E.W. King House is not known, best estimates are that the home was constructed circa 1903. King and his family occupied the building from the time of its construction until the 1930s, although the King family maintained ownership of the house until 1946.

The site of the E.W. King home is of further historical significance in that it rests on the site of an 18th Century fort built by Gen. Evan Shelby. The fort, built of hand-hewn logs, was constructed in 1771 to provide protection for the early settlers of the region from Cherokee Indian raids and was a common stopover for travelers making their way westward. It is estimated that nearly 100,000 immigrants passed through the fort from 1780 to 1790, including frequent visits from Daniel Boone and George Rogers Clark. It also became an important peace time trading post for exchanges between the settlers and local groups of Cherokees.

Shelby's fort was also the site of the initial plans for the Battle of King's Mountain, a turning point in the Revolutionary War. Responding to threats from British Colonel Patrick Ferguson, who was leading a detachment of Comwallis' main army on foraging and recruiting raids, Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, William Campbell and other leaders from the region assembled a militia to meet the English forces. Their defeat of Ferguson at King's Mountain upset Cornwallis' plans for a Southern invasion and is often credited as the victory which turned the tide of the Revolutionary War.

Although few physical remains of the fort exist, a historical marker recognizing the site of the fort was erected by the Daughters of the American Revolution in 1927 and still stands in the yard of the E.W. King home.

MISSION & GOALS
The Job Description of the King House Museum

PRIMARY GOALS


1. To serve as an accredited local history museum with revolving exhibits that will explore distinct themes pertinent to the East Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia Regions.

2. To restore at least four rooms as a historic house museum to illustrate an upper middle class lifestyle from the early part of this century.

3. To work integrally with the Tennessee and Virginia school systems to make local history a fundamental and exciting aspect of students' curriculum. To utilize a
historic property as a teaching tool.

4. To contribute to the region's Heritage Tourism efforts by working with the existing historic properties, museums, and cultural centers to develop a unified tourism package.

5. To serve as the Headquarters for the Bristol Historical Association.

SECONDARY GOALS

1. To beautify the surrounding gardens as a "period" garden (not a restored garden) with the assistance of the Master Gardeners Club.

2. To use the Historic Home as a cultural center as well or instead of as an exhibit museum.

3. To provide some spaces for public meetings, events, classes and forums.

4. To provide a catering kitchen to serve the public rooms and gardens.

5. To have a revenue providing gift shop.

6. To have comfort stations, vending, and ADA accessibility.
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