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Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center, Townsend

4.4
#7 of 24 in Things to do in Townsend
History Museum Museum
The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is a private non-profit museum located in Townsend, Tennessee, United States, near the city's entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Its mission is to preserve the heritage and culture of the inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountains, including both the region's Native American inhabitants and the pioneers and residents of the region's Appalachian communities. The center was organized in the early 2000s, and officially opened in February 2006.The center houses over 17000sqft of indoor and outdoor exhibits. The outdoor area includes several structures from around the region, including a log cabin, two cantilever barns, an AME Zion chapel, a logging town "setoff" house, a sawmill, and a still once operated by a local moonshiner. The indoor gallery displays tools, furniture and musical instruments used in the mountain region, as well as a sizable collection of Cherokee and other Native American artifacts, some dating to the Archaic period (c. 8000–2000 B.C.).HistoryThe Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center was conceptualized in the early 2000s by local preservationist and antique collector Richard Way. Early organizational efforts were led by Bob Patterson and several Townsend-area civic organizations. The Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center Guild hosted fundraisers for the proposed center in 2004 and 2005. Ground for the new center was broken in the Summer of 2004. The center officially opened February 12, 2006.
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3 days in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, kids, popular PREFERENCES: July, kids ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 22 days in Tennessee BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM August, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 5 days in Townsend & Knoxville BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in Townsend & Great Smoky Mountains National Park BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, teens, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, teens, outdoors, relaxing, historic sites ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 1 day in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, slow & easy, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Slow & easy 3 days in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES September, popular PREFERENCES: September ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 1 day in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, hidden gems PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Hidden gems PACE: Medium 3 days in Townsend BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, kids, relaxing, popular PREFERENCES: August, kids, relaxing ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 7 days in Tennessee BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, teens, outdoors, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, teens, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 6 days in Tennessee BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, teens, outdoors, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: July, teens, outdoors ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Medium 5 days in Tennessee BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, teens, outdoors, beaches, fast-paced, popular & hidden gems PREFERENCES: August, teens, outdoors, beaches ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular & hidden gems PACE: Fast-paced
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Where to stay in Townsend

You'll find limited accommodation options in the tiny town of Townsend. You have the choice of a few privately owned bed and breakfasts, which offer a good selection of amenities including fitness facilities, cable TV, free Wi-Fi, in-room fireplaces, steam showers, and hot tubs. For a more outdoorsy experience of the Great Smoky Mountains, research the area's tent and trailer campgrounds; many provide hookups for both cable TV and high-speed Internet.
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Google
4.5
  • We always enjoy coming to the Heritage Center. This time, we brought our two oldest grandchildren, ages 6 and 3, for their first visit here. They especially enjoyed walking through the structures, lis...  more »
  • I never knew this place existed until this year. I was surprised to find that that they had relocated these historic buildings to simulate an early settlement. We loved walking through each building a...  more »
  • We loved this place! The museum (inside) is excellent, as are the historic buildings out back on the little trail. Plan on staying a long time and not rushing. There is a great gift shop. Staff people...  more »
Google
  • What a neat place! It was interesting to see how different cultures evolved in the area. Nice clean bathrooms for a quick pit stop. Nice gift shop. Pleasant employees.
  • The Great Smokey Mountains Heritage Center (GSMHC) serves multiple functions for East Tennessee and Great Smokey Mountains National Park (GSMNP) area. It is a museum dedicated to honoring those early settlers and inhabitants of the Great Smoky Mountain region; including the earliest settlers, the Native Americans. It is a destination for area schools for their field trips. A dedicated group of volunteers make each student’s visit a real day to remember. It is also a community center for concerts and academic presentations for Townsend. It seems to be a great source of pride for the entire area.
  • It gives basic information about the local Indian culture and also about how early settlers.
  • Heritage Center is wonderful and full of local information, and displays of local talent and history of the area. Do visit all the buildings, quite a history lesson to visualize. Currently having the fall concert series with music at 7pm on Friday nights. Great groups, all different. Come early and bring a chair.
  • Great family venue for all ages.