Over 80 Years In The Making:
THE HISTORY OF THE GREAT SMOKEY ARTS & CRAFTS COMMUNITY
Around 1937, John Cowden and several other craftsmen decided to go home…weather, increased traffic, excessive commissions to shop owners, and other disruptions were impacting their ability to work as they wanted, and they decided to move their craft shops to to the Glades, where many of them lived. They left downtown to the shop owners and set up their own shop, studios, and galleries, in or near their homes.
They invited the visitors to Gatlinburg to come out to the Glades to see their facilities and look at their wares. They soon realized they could do even more and better work, because of the availability of their tools and supplies. Not to mention the reduction in stress because of being close to the comfort and surroundings of home and family.
Shortly after John Cowden made the move, another long established artisan and member of the community, Carl Huskey, a furniture maker, followed suite and opened the Village Craft Shop in the Glades. Soon after that dozens of other artisan and craftsmen started migrating to this new center of activity, and the seeds were sown for the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.
Several wedding chapels were built to accommodate the hundreds of young couples coming to Gatlinburg and the Great Smoky Mountains to get married. Then even more facilities were built to meet the demand for lodging when many of these same couples returned with their families for vacation, in later years.
Between May and October of 1982, over 11 million people visited the area while attending the Knoxville World’s Fair (officially known as the Knoxville International Energy Exposition) and one of Gatlinburg’s best kept secrets, the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community, was discovered. That’s just how it happened. For over 75 years this community of artists and craftsmen has continued to grow and prosper and has become the largest artistic community in America.
Drive out to see us or take the trolley and see what everyone is talking about. It’s hand made in America; it’s a step back in time; and it is all here for you while visiting the beautiful Great Smoky Mountains.