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Local Color: Magnolia Avenue

The now-iconic Pizza Palace opened its doors on Aug. 10, 1961, started by brothers  Al, Gus, and Arthur Peroulas. Drive-in pizza places may be a rarity now, but the Palace proudly continues the tradition and remains a family operation. And after being featured in a 2007 episode of /Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives/ on Food Network , its popularity spread far beyond Knoxville.

Photo by Shawn Poynter

The now-iconic Pizza Palace opened its doors on Aug. 10, 1961, started by brothers Al, Gus, and Arthur Peroulas. Drive-in pizza places may be a rarity now, but the Palace proudly continues the tradition and remains a family operation. And after being featured in a 2007 episode of /Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives/ on Food Network , its popularity spread far beyond Knoxville.

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  • Canon McKinney, 4, gets a trim at Rob’s Clean Cuts & Styles on Washington Avenue near Winona, a couple of blocks from Caswell Park. Barber Rob Mooney does the honors.
  • The ever-growing Pellissippi State Community College opened a campus at 1610 Magnolia Avenue in 2000, bringing new life—and over 700 students—to the old (circa 1930) Catholic High School building. Here, from left, Markilen Yarbrough, Erica Bais, and Spencer Carpenter take a break in the courtyard.
  • Built in 1927, Magnolia Avenue Methodist Church, 2700 East Magnolia, was once Oscar-winning actress Patricia Neal’s home church.  Concerned about their long-term ability to maintain the building they love, the church’s own congregation nominated the building for Knox Heritage’s Fragile 15 list to highlight their need for help.
  • The now-iconic Pizza Palace opened its doors on Aug. 10, 1961, started by brothers  Al, Gus, and Arthur Peroulas. Drive-in pizza places may be a rarity now, but the Palace proudly continues the tradition and remains a family operation. And after being featured in a 2007 episode of /Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives/ on Food Network , its popularity spread far beyond Knoxville.
  • Caswell Park, just a couple of blocks off Magnolia on Winona Street, features four full-size softball fields. Named for benefactor William Caswell, who participated in Tennessee’s first known baseball game in 1865, it became the city’s main baseball field around World War I, and  hosted Knoxville’s own minor-league pro-baseball clubs as well as famous visiting athletes from Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth (who hit a homer here, of course) to Michael Jordan, during his short-lived baseball career.
  • Scott Bunch replaces a customer’s tire at 2nd Chance Tries and Wheels at 1901 Magnolia. It’s on the same block where Mountain Dew was invented in 1946.
  • The Bottom’s Up Lounge, near Chilhowee Park.
  • Chandler’s Deli is really a soul-food cafeteria known for barbecue, fried chicken, greens, and of course hot sauce for everything. With his wife Gwen, Charles Chandler, above, opened the place in an old Pizza Hut building 13 years ago, and it was almost instantly popular with both the black and white communities of East Knoxville.
  • Some of the city’s best-looking old apartment buildings—the Aston in the foreground, and beyond it the Lakewood and the Shenandoah—are on the 2700 block of Magnolia. They date from the 1920s, when it was a fashionable address.
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  • The studios of East Tennessee PBS have been located on Magnolia for years.
  • “Dr. Bob” Overholt, East Tennessee’s most popular medical-advice authority, pauses during a shoot. The same studio brings us other popular local characters like Marshal Andy and Missy Kane.
  • The slowly renovating historic community Parkridge is a work in progress. Deriving its name from old Park City, an early suburban community that encompassed the area, it’s the former home of Knoxville’s most nationally famous architect, George Barber, who inspired Victorian-era house plans from coast to coast. Parkridge still boasts one of America’s highest concentrations of his houses. Though Parkridge still has its challenges, it looks a little better, and more colorful, every year.
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  • Many American cities no longer host big agricultural fairs, but Knoxville’s Tennessee Valley Fair has been an annual event at Magnolia Avenue’s Chilhowee Park every September since 1916. It still draws more than 100,000 each year.
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Shawn Poynter continues his series of neighborhood photo essays with this look at East Knoxville's Magnolia Avenue.

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