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History of Knox Heritage

In 1974, the Bijou Theatre was threatened by demolition and neglect. The historic venue that had once hosted the Marx Brothers, Dizzy Gillespie, and many other entertainers since 1909 had fallen on hard times. The wrecking ball was poised to wipe out an important part of Knoxville’s history.

But a group of concerned citizens was determined not to let that happen. They formed an organization called Knoxville Heritage, a name later changed to Knox Heritage. Incorporated on April Fools’ Day in 1974 and founded in the Dulin Art Gallery on Kingston Pike, Knox Heritage was thereafter dedicated to protecting and preserving structures and places in Knox County with historic or cultural significance. In the nick of time, the group raised the money to purchase the Bijou Theatre and save it for future generations to enjoy. 

Since its founding 50 years ago, Knox Heritage has built a community who shares our vision of preserving Knoxville’s unique places for the next generation. Our dedicated supporters have enabled us to secure funding for development projects that led to a revitalized downtown Knoxville, improve historic neighborhoods by restoring once-blighted houses to attractive homes, and call attention to some of Knox County’s most endangered cultural and historic assets.