Morristown; Home of a Bear-Grinnin’ Hero, The Evil Dead, and the Last Two-Story Sky Mart in the USA

A farmer named Gideon Morris was the first European to settle in the area we now know as Morristown. He and his family were granted secession from the state of North Carolina in the late 1780s and they named the land after themselves. 

It would be another 50-60 years before Morristown became incorporated as a city, when it was used as various military stations in the Civil War.  A visit to Morristown’s General Longstreet Museum will teach you more about that.

Economic stability was earned in the decades to follow by its involvement in the railroad, textiles, and other industries. 

Remember that song about David “Davy” Crockett? I believe I am required to make that my song for this entry.

 


Crockett was born and raised in Limestone, Tennessee which is a short drive from Morristown. He is a pretty big deal around those parts. 

Crockett was famous for a great number of accomplishments including his alleged ability to fight bears by flashing his grin, but my favourite story is when he passionately spoke out against Andrew Jackson’s cruel and horrific Indian Removal Act.

Television and film polishes things up, but here is the gist of it:

Thanks to Disneyland and a multitude of legends about Davy Crockett, most of us have always had this image in our heads of him wearing his iconic “coon-skin” hat, but it turns out he only wore those in later years.

He also preferred to be called David. 

A visit to Morristown will lead you to the replica of the family tavern at the Crockett Tavern Museum and to the Davy Crockett Restaurant

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A 40-minute drive will take you to the David Crockett Birthplace State Park, and you can check out this audiobook to learn more about Crockett’s wild life on the way. 

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Aside from Crockett, a whole slew of wrestlers, boxers, NASCAR drivers, football players and other athletes, musicians, writers, and politicians all come from Morristown. 

The 2005 horror film called Five Across the Eyes was filmed there, and one of the most famous and essential horror films, The Evil Dead, was filmed in both Morristown and the nearby town of Bean Station back in 1981.

If you are really into The Evil Dead filming locations, check out this video I found on Youtube:

Today you can find the reputable colleges of Tennessee Tech, Walter State, Tusculum College, and King University in Morristown, plus all the burgeoning shopping/recreation centers to support residents and visiting students alike.

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The most distinct feature of Morristown though, is its historic downtown district. Since 2016 this one square mile area has been on the National Register of Historic Places, and it has the only remaining two-story “sky mart” sidewalk system in the US.

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Admittedly I take too many dreamy skyline photos and close ups of the archways and rooftops of old buildings but this never has been a best-drink-specials type of travel blog.

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I love how each building differs, and I love all the small details rarely seen anymore in modern construction.  

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Similar urban renewal projects across the States were given up on in the 1960s, when shopping malls and other competitive tourist attractions stole the thunder. 

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Impressively, Morristown has maintained its own and is actively working to bring it new life. 

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This accessibility ramp is a newer feature. 

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I am highly anticipating the opening of the 1907 Brewing Company and have already chatted with the owners about visiting as soon as it is safe and ready.

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There is an interesting mix of nostalgia and trendy shops there.

A vintage arcade, hemp shop, clothing boutiques, tattoo shop, recording studio, pet supplies store, pharmacy, and antique shops are all in the fold.

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Many years ago, a German-Belgian-French fusion restaurant was in one of these ground level buildings, though I can not recall which one.

My friend knew the owners and we had a blast one night after they locked the door, turned the blinds, brought us a smorgasbord of things to sample, and somehow we ended up drinking schnapps and dancing on the table. 

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We saw a few old maps and photographs of Morristown throughout the decades and some other exhibits along the streets. 

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Around the corner you can visit more antique shops. 

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Before getting back on the road, we stopped into the Little Dutch Restaurant for lunch. Apparently it is now a Greek restaurant but it was ran by a bunch of sweet older Asian ladies. Their Reuben was good but I could eat that creamed spinach every day until I die. 

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Rose Center Museum, Panther Creek State Park, and Cherokee Dam are on my list for the next visit to Morristown.

See how many barn quilts (we call them hex signs where I’m from) you can find in Greene County and along Highway 11 as part of the Appalachian Quilt Trail  while you are in the area. 

Follow me to Historic Rogersville, and don’t forget to subscribe! 

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