Anderson County, Tennessee is home to the small towns and cities of Clinton, Norris, Oak Ridge, Rocky Top, and Oliver Springs.
Many communities in this area were originally developed by the government as an experiment in urban planning and to support employees of ongoing confidential and/or industrial projects.
Clinton is nationally famous for being a hub on the Antique Trail map. There are at least 15 separate antique malls and shops in Clinton, give or take the occasional closing and reopening, and many have been fixtures since the late 90s or early 2000s.
At one point my mother and her friends had considered a lease for their own antique store, but the majority of commercial property was in shambles back then. I enjoy seeing the historic area continue to be revitalized and grow, little by little.
Old Time Music
I started my trip from Knoxville, driving through the Powell community along Clinton Highway, because my first stop was the Ciderville Music Store.
Despite the posted “No Jamming!” rule, there are usually some fellas in the side room playing music, and they have live shows throughout the week.
Today they were playing Merle and it set the tone for my day.
This line of multi-hued upright basses makes me giddy.
Ciderville is where I refer all my musician friends to as they are passing through the mountains on tour or visiting.
Goin’ Into Town
Crossing the Clinch River via the Hon. William Everette Lewallen Memorial bridge a few miles down, Highway 25W becomes Main Street and leads you right into the municipal squares of Clinton and the Hoskins Pharmacy & Grill.
Hoskins carries medical supplies, pharmaceuticals, gifts, local goods, antiques, baby items, clothing, and doubles as an ice cream shop and grill.
Hoskins is exactly what I imagined these nearly extinct drugstore combos would be, long before buildings were renovated and chopped into pieces or torn down to accommodate strip malls.
On this particular morning, the store had not yet reached its morning rush. I found myself in the company of a few sleepy staff members and the smell of frying bacon.
Next to Hoskins is the Ritz Theatre. Now Showing: Spiderman.
There are several monuments and plaques across the street.
The intersection of Market Place and Main Street comprises historic downtown Clinton and the densest segment of the Antique Trail. Shops line both sides of Market Place with a handful of cafes in between.
The tiny town square frequently hosts antique festivals, family nights, live music, block parties, and other events.
Around the corner is the Clinton Antique mall with three floors of booths, displays, and a bookstore. As you enter, some very nice elderly gentlemen welcome visitors from a half moon of rocking chairs.
These guides of the old world offer assistance during your quest, and subtly direct your attention toward Amelia’s Cafe to the left.
I picked up a latte, banged out some polka bars on an old organ, and mosied around a bit.
I considered ordering lunch here but the food line was backed up to the store’s exit and the scorching heat from outside had began to impose itself indoors. As I was leaving, I overheard two separate tables praising their sandwiches and nodding in approval.
If you are interested in following the antiques trail, check out the Clinton Antique Trail website.
There are a few restaurants and cafes downtown, but I have not had much luck catching them during open hours. E. Claire’s Coffee House is the new kid on the block, just recently opening on Valentine’s Day of 2019.
We stopped in for a snack and saw that they have a very warm, welcoming atmosphere.
I was drawn to their pastry case like a moth to flame, and soon my wish was granted.
We split an E. Claire, the cafe’s namesake, and an iced coffee. Perfection.
I will be returning soon to check out their homemade soups so stay tuned.
Several visits prior, I was talked into ordering this sandwich called the Truffles 10 at the Truffles Cupboard Cafe, which brings to mind that old adage about Communism looking great on paper but not in practice. Leave it to me to link just about anything back to the Motherland.
At first I was mystified. Could they really pull it off? Is it a complex sandwich or a shape-shifting casserole?
I was intrigued but slightly shook by the description as follows: a slice of meatloaf, a fried green tomato, a few slices of fried potatoes, pimento cheese, and grilled onions between slices of marbled rye.
I ordered with hesitation… and I took a few bites.
I can respect it for what it is. Admittedly I do not like most southern American foods. I have a diverse palate, and I gave it a shot, but absolutely none of those things have any business on marbled rye.
As Merle said, Mama tried.
Recently I learned that Truffles closed, which is a shame because every other item on their menu and inside their dessert case looked incredible.
For those with more old-fashioned preferences, the Golden Girls Restaurant serves up an American style breakfast and many other favourites just a few minutes outside the historic square.
A Bit of History
Anyone who loves shopping, particularly for antiques, could probably spend an entire day perusing the historic Clinton Square. I enjoyed my time there and found some fantastic items, but I had something else in mind.
The Green McAdoo Cultural Center is located half a mile outside the town center at the top of the hill. Clinton High School was the first public school that received a court-ordered desegregation in the late 50s, a ruling that was not embraced with open arms.
KKK members held rallies and forced their children to form and join a white supremacist youth coalition. Picketing and riots took place, the mob got involved, well-meaning community leaders were attacked and beaten, and ultimately the school was bombed.
Of course this violence and hatred did not reflect the views of everyone in the town, and Clinton seems to be a welcoming community today.
Green McAdoo now stands as a memorial for these brave students and the adults who fought to desegregate and to protect their lives and rights.
To learn more about the Clinton 12, watch one of these short documentaries. There are a LOT of references to Communism in this video, which is purely coincidence and in no way connected to my previous statement about the meatloaf sandwich. No way.
Want to see more of Anderson County? Follow me to Norris and Oak Ridge.
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