If you frequent downtown Knoxville, you’re likely familiar with the new Walnut Street parking garage between Locust and Walnut Streets. If you didn’t know it by that name, you probably just knew it as the garage with a huge blank wall facing south in downtown. After several months of planning with several parties including the city of Knoxville, the Knoxville tourism agency (Visit Knoxville) and us, we are happy to have been part of turning that huge blank canvas into something amazing – over 230ft worth of historic photographs of iconic Knoxville locations.
The installation is one of the largest in the region, with over 200 brackets and 800 feet of perimeter bracing holding close to 13,000 total square feet of custom printed mesh banner material. The images are intended to stay in place for an extended period, but the permanently installed brackets will let us change out the banners for new ones very easily in the future, and at reduced cost for the client.
The three historic Knoxville images were chosen from the Calvin M McClung Historical Collection here in Knoxville, and selected because of their importance in the history and memory of Knoxville. The first is an image from the late 1920s of the old “Public Hall” building that in one form or another was at the heart of our beloved Market Square for over 100 years. The open Market Square we now know took shape in the late 1950’s after this building was damaged from a fire and removed from the square. The largest, central image is of a view north up Gay Street from the corner of Union and Gay. This photograph would likely be dated from around the same time period, and features a rail trolley in the foreground which ran on Gay Street till the 1940s. The last image on the right is of the Kerns Building that still stands on the corner of Union Avenue at the south end of Market Square. Built in 1875, Peter Kern had a confectionary shop on the 1st floor, an “ice cream saloon” on the 2nd floor, and a meeting space on the 3rd. This building now houses the popular Oliver Hotel.
Below is a short video showing the installation of these mammoth banners.