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A Snapshot of the past: Man recreates century-old painting of Downtown Knoxville

A five-foot version of “Busy Spots in Knoxville” will go up for a silent auction to help support the History Project along with the East Tennessee Historical Society and Museum.
Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 10:08 PM EST|Updated: Nov. 24, 2021 at 11:34 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A piece of downtown Knoxville’s century-old history can be right at your fingertips and help make a difference here in East Tennessee.

A picture is worth a thousand words, but in one special case it’s whispering a thousand stories.

“It’s hard not to be fascinated by the history of Knoxville,” Joe McCamish, a Knoxville curator and owner of McCamish Media said.

He’s the owner of a drawing that fittingly hangs at the East Tennessee History Museum. It’s a look back at downtown Knoxville one century ago first drawn by the late artist H.P. Ijams in 1921. A young and fascinated Joe McCamish Sr. put his own spin on the project back in the 80′s. His son, Joe Jr., said he died before anyone could see it.

“I found it from his portfolio and I drug it out and made some prints and sold it to some friends who were interested in Knoxville history,” McCamish said.

Years later, the demand grew and it pushed McCamish to go more public and sell the artwork on a canvas for the first time.

“So many of these families are on this canvas are still in this business today,” said McCamish. “There are probably about half dozen that we would all recognize.”

The museum manager, Tim Yates, watched as visitors viewed the piece with admiration.

“It’s more of an emotional contact that they have with it because it reminds them of their earlier days,” Yates said.

A five-foot version of “Busy Spots in Knoxville” will go up for a silent auction to help support the History Project along with the East Tennessee Historical Society and Museum.

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