Lonsdale House Rehab unearths News Sentinel newspapers from the 1930s


Carol Z. Shane

East Knoxville resident Allie Ward Chamberlain, who reuses and recovers textiles in an effort to educate the public on the best and worst practices in the apparel industry, “look” – her words – on an ad for a silk dress.

“It’s $ 2.98, compared to $ 3.99! She exclaims. “What we would do to pay $ 3.99 for a silk dress!” ”

This dress has probably disintegrated or is molding somewhere. The ad Chamberlain is watching is in a virtually pristine copy of the Knoxville News Sentinel that she and her husband, Spencer, recently found under several layers of flooring.

The date indicated is May 15, 1936.

The couple – he works in medical sales, she graduated in architecture from UT, and runs a small business, Reclaim Creative – own several homes in East Knoxville and Lonsdale.

“The one we just bought in Lonsdale had really soft floors,” she says. “We started tearing up the carpets and upholstery – up to nine layers. There were original hardwood floors intact underneath – we had just spent $ 3,000 on vinyl flooring and we found it! “

East Knoxville residents Spencer and Allie Ward Chamberlain found something they didn't expect while renovating a home in Lonsdale: beautifully preserved 1935 and 1936 editions of the Knoxville News Sentinel.  June 23, 2021.

This is not all they found. “In the first room, there was this newspaper from 1936. And in another room, we found one from 1935. This one is still at home.

Chamberlain contacted his former professor of US history, who told him that it was common for people at that time to include such clues when building the house. “I think they were left as a time capsule. We found them between the hardwood and the first sheet of linoleum, so we think they were put in place when the house was first built, ”considering that linoleum – much more prized than hardwood in 1936 – was probably asked at the start of the process.

A surprise under the linoleum.  The Chamberlains have found two vintage Knoxville News Sentinels in the Lonsdale house they are renovating.  This one dates from 1935. June 2021.

Front-page articles from the 85-year-old newspaper include “New WNOX Studios to Open May 27,” written by “Dial Twister” and “UT Appoints Harvard Man as New Dean,” referring to Fred C. Smith, who was appointed by University President James Hoskins.

Chamberlain is also a watercolor artist whose prints from various locations in Knoxville can be found in various local stores including Rala and the Donut Shop. Previously, she co-owned and ran Bare.Thred, a second-hand store dedicated to turning used clothing into outlets for creativity and style.

Reclaim Creative is a jack-of-all-trades design studio with a similar goal: to turn wasted materials into a beautiful product.

Allie Ward Chamberlain graduated in architecture and works in the field, but also has a passion for textiles.  She wears a top made from an old family quilt and holds an unfinished quilt that a friend gave her.  She and her husband, Spencer, recently found two vintage Knoxville News Sentinels under the floor of a house they were renovating.  June 23, 2021.

“What really excites me is the clothing industry and keeping things out of the landfill. She is wearing a top made from an old family quilt that was falling apart. Nearby, beautifully presented on a shelf, is an entire quilt made by her grandmother.

“You have to decide what you are going to tear up and reuse,” she says. “Something like this is worth saving as it is. ”

As for the newspapers, “we want to preserve them but we don’t know what we are going to do with them”. She plans to contact the Knoxville History Project. “If they can serve a larger audience for a longer period of time, that would be amazing.”


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