Today, I scouted the December hike for Friends of the Smokies (FOTS). Marielle Dejong, Outreach & Development Associate, and I met at a parking area in Elkmont on the Tennessee side of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
I had walked the Little River Trail many times and then through the Elkmont neighborhoods. But today, we were also going to find the Avent Cabin.
Sarah Weeks of FOTS sent me an article on a cabin owned by Frank and Mayna Avent.
Mayna (1868-1959) was a regionally famous painter from Nashville who was classically trained in Paris.
She and her husband bought the cabin in 1918, close to local mountain people who lived there year-round. Mayna used the cabin as her summer studio, where the Smokies mountains was her inspiration. If you search out Mayna Treanor Avent, you’ll find pictures of her work.
Like all people who lived in the general Elkmont area, she sold the cabin to the National Park Service in 1932 but leased it back. Her family continued to use it after the painter’s death. But as years were numbered on the lease, her granddaughter saved the cabin by putting it on the National Register of Historic Places. Otherwise, it probably would have been dismantled like her neighbors’ homes.
Today, with some directions gotten on the web and a lot of searching and some fruitless bushwhacking, Marielle and I found the cabin. It is not on a maintained trail.
We could only get in the outer room of the cabin, where we found a copy of the application for the National Register and a copy of an article by Courtney Lix in Smokies Life Magazine(Volume 4 #2). The article, published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association, answered several questions:
How is the cabin maintained? Look at the picture of the bridge above? It is better than most of the Smokies bridges on officially maintained trails. The Frank and Mayna Avent Trust was created by the family, I assume, to provide funding for the cabin’s maintenance. Friends of the Smokies oversees the flow of the funding to the park.
The answer to the second question is not as clear. How did Frank and Mayna Avent get to the cabin? Come on the hike and see.
I’ll be leading a hike through Elkmont and up to the Avent Cabin, on Tuesday December 12. Go to the FOTS events page to sign up.
I’ll lead the hike, if and only if our government passes a budget and doesn’t shut us down. Yes, we’ve been on that path before.