Driving through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, you’ll find more family activities than you can shake a stick at.

But just a few turns off the Parkway, there’s another thing you’ll notice, and that’s the master craftsmanship of a fellow named Lewis Buckner.

Buckner was a true craftsman and artisan. He hand-carved elaborate furniture, mantles and staircases, as well as gingerbread trim work in the grand, ornate Victorian style of the period. He was a renowned carpenter, cabinetmaker and house-builder. In fact, right here in Sevier County, there are at least 15 homes he built that are still standing today. Two of them are listed on the US National Register of Historic Places, including the Robert Tino Gallery in Sevierville.

The Robert Tino Gallery in Sevierville

Buckner was extremely creative, and profoundly influential. But there was something else very special about him…

He was born and raised a slave in Jefferson County.

After the Civil War, he gained his freedom, and went on to achieve great things in the worlds of architecture and craftsmanship…which was no small feat for such a man, in such a challenging time in history. So when you drive through Sevier County, take a look around, and remember the story of Lewis Buckner, and how an honest, hard-working person can overcome a daunting barrier and make a lasting impact on an entire region.