- [S47] Sevier County, Tennessee and its Heritage, Sevier County Heritage Book Committee, (1994, Don Mills, Inc.), 196.
- [S106] The Mountain Press, 24 Jan 2016.
Upland Chronicles: Emert Brick was a Sevierville landmark
In 1856, fire destroyed the Sevier County Courthouse and spread to almost every public building in town. By the time smoke settled, there was little left of the county seat. Rumors ran rampant that the county would be dissolved and divided among adjacent counties – Knox, Jefferson, Cocke and Blount. However, Sevier County residents had endured many hardships since the county was formed in 1796 and were too resilient to give up.
Within a year, plans were in place to create a town square and build a new brick courthouse in the center of the square. After the new courthouse opened, lots surrounding the new square became prized business locations.
In 1868, John B. Emert purchased the lot across from the southeast corner of the square. The two-story brick building on the property was probably built by S.B. Henderson, previous owner of the property, shortly after the new courthouse was finished. Shannon Felker had purchased the lot and building, which was originally a dwelling house, at public auction on Feb. 28, 1866 for $1,647.
On April 6, 1868, Felker sold the property to John B. Emert and his wife Matt. Born Dec. 9, 1833, Emert was a son of Daniel Emert and Sarah Reagan Emert. He served as a Union soldier in Company K, 2nd Tennessee Cavalry during the Civil War. He married Martha Jane Mills on April 2, 1867.
Emert converted the front of the house into a general merchandise store, and the couple resided in the back. The 1880 census records indicated Frederick L. Emert, age 24, was residing with John and Martha. His relationship was listed as a nephew and his occupation as a store clerk. The childless couple had raised their nephew and trained him to take over the store; which he did after John died in 1884.
Known as F.L. Emert and Son, a new cash store was opened by Frederick Emert in the building in March 1905. The new store carried items such as clothing, shoes and groceries. In September of that year, the first plank sidewalk in Sevierville was constructed in front of the building, which by this time was widely known simply as the “Emert Brick.”
In the fall of 1907, a fire destroyed the Sevierville Hardware building on Cross St. (now Court Avenue), and the business relocated in the Emert Brick. The following year, another fire damaged the business of D.P. Boyer which was moved to the upstairs of Emert Brick over Sevierville Hardware until the hardware business moved back to Cross Street in 1908.
After Boyer moved out, an ice cream parlor and restaurant named Cameron, Ingle & Company was located in Emert Brick. In 1914, the company remodeled the building, taking over the entire first floor. The establishment was open 5:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. six days a week. Later, J.R. Ingle took over Cameron’s interest and changed the name to J.R. Ingle & Sons, which he operated until 1920. Cameron, Ingle & Company was a popular gathering place during the years it was in business.
W.H. Teague purchased the building from Ingle, along with the remaining stock and fixtures, but soon sold the building to buy Sevierville Store Company. Afterward the building was sold and resold several times. Among the owners were E.E. Conner and Sanders Atchley.
In 1933, Atchley Funeral Home, which had previously been located on the northeast corner of the square in the Yett Building, moved to the Emert Brick. A graduate of Gumpton-Jones School of Embalming, James H. Atchley was the first licensed embalmer in Sevier County and established the first ambulance service in 1929. The funeral home was there until moving to its present location at 118 Main St. in 1948.
The next businesses to operate in the Emert Brick were the Cloth Shop and Bashor’s Florist. A native of Idaho, Henry Bashor moved to Sevierville after serving in World War II with his wife, Mary, and their daughter Marie, to operate a florist and photography studio. They later moved the business to 117 Joy St., next to the Pines Theatre.
Two sisters, Jean Wear Parrott and Ina Wear Roberts, owned and operated the Cloth Shop. They moved their business, which they had opened in the basement of a bank building on Court Avenue in 1948, to the Emert Brick in the early 1950s. Originally, the sisters sold cloth, patterns and sewing needs. The business grew to include factory-produced clothing and dry goods. They operated their business in the building until Sevier County Bank bought the property along with the Hotel Sevier in the 1960s.
Sevier County Bank demolished the Emert Brick building to make way for parking next to its new, 15,000-square-foot building in 1968. Dedication of the new bank was held Sept. 21, 1969. The bank’s time and temperature sign and about half a dozen parking spaces occupy the spot where the storied old Emert Brick stood for a century.
Carroll McMahan is special projects facilitator and serves as Sevier County historian for the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce.
The Upland Chronicles series celebrates the heritage and past of Sevier County. If you have suggestions for future topics, would like to submit a column or have comments, contact Carroll McMahan at 453-6411 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Ron Rader at 604-9161 or email@example.com.
- [S94] Sevier County, Tennessee Census, 380b, 7 Jun 1870.
- [S94] Sevier County, Tennessee Census, family 219, page 400b, line 34, 26 Aug 1850.
- [S94] Sevier County, Tennessee Census, 371, 1880.
Census Place: Sevierville, Sevier, Tennessee
Source: FHL Film 1255277 National Archives Film T9-1277 Page 371C
Relation Sex Marr Race Age Birthplace
John B. EMERT Self M M W 46 TN
Occ: Merchant Fa: PA Mo: SC
Martha J. EMERT Wife F M W 44 TN
Occ: Keeping House Fa: TN Mo: TN
Fredrick L. EMERT Nephew M S W 24 TN
Occ: Clerk In Store Fa: TN Mo: TN
- [S34] In the Shadow of the Smokies, Smoky Mountain Historical Society, (1993), 300.