Tennessee Valley Authority officials are planning a public open house to display some of the archaeological discoveries unearthed during an excavation of a downtown Knoxville site. Sealed for years beneath a parking lot, the site west of Market Square contains the foundations of three turn-of-the-century homes, one of which once belonged to businessman and politician Peter Kern.
A German immigrant, Kern returned from the Civil War to start a confectionery that eventually evolved into Kern's Bakery. He was also involved in local politics and was elected Mayor of Knoxville in 1890, the last foreign-born person to hold that position.
All that remains of Kern's home today is the stone foundation. TVA spokesman Duncan Mansfield says the stones will eventually be removed to make way for a 800-1000 space parking garage. The TVA had originally planned to build the garage, but turned the project over to the city. "We're not in the business of running parking lots," says Mansfield.
Once completed in 2015, the city will lease the garage back to the TVA.
Mansfield says the TVA is hoping the parking garage will help attract buyers for its nearly-empty East Tower. The TVA has been trying to sell the nearly-empty office building since 2003. Mansfield says some of the potential buyers were concerned about the lack of "dedicated parking".
Members of the media will be invited to tour the dig site on Wednesday morning. The general public will get its chance on Saturday.