Tourism as heritage: uncovering Hubert Bebb’s tourist vernacular in Gatlinburg.

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Katherine A. Nash (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Patrick Lee Lucas

Abstract: According to Park visitor statistics Gatlinburg, Tennessee rates as the most heavily visited national park in the United States; as a gateway community and the official entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, its downtown landscape remains cemented in the minds of many across the nation. Through a context based visual analysis utilizing Maxwell’s two-way stretch theory, the researcher traced the origins and defining characteristics of this Gatlinburg aesthetic – the Tourist Vernacular – that evolved primarily through the work of one architect: Hubert Bebb. Through visual analysis, Bebb emerged as the key architect who, over the course of fifty years, not only created hybrids informed by the existing built environment of Gatlinburg, but inserted a new prototype and subsequent hybrids that came to define much of the downtown landscape. Bebb’s early work sits as a response to the buildings of the settlement school era, established in 1912. With precedents from this development, he augmented materials and forms to buildings in a time when government officials conceptualized and developed the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, authorized in 1926 and formally dedicated in 1940, an era characterized by a boom in construction as a result of increased tourism. His work is most particularly influential in the third quarter of the twentieth century when businesses and community leaders, including Bebb himself, shaped a place image consistent with visitor expectations. Utilizing Bebb’s Tourist Vernacular, designers and business leaders have transformed the built environment in the last several decades. Correspondingly, the aesthetic forms serve as the basis for such visionary changes as “The Greening of Gatlinburg” and the Gatlinburg Vision Statement, alongside the completion of studies and guidelines that affect the physical characteristics and visual aspects of the downtown, calling for authenticity in the evolved Tourist Vernacular. Touching on historical influences, this analysis speaks to a series of stylistic genre in Gatlinburg’s mid-twentieth century commercial buildings, while also linking to work that continues the aesthetics and philosophies of Bebb’s architectural endeavors. The study shows readers glimpses of one community’s evolving architectural lexicon shaped largely by tourist needs and expectations, thus providing a useful approach to other recreational landscapes throughout the nation.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Gatlinburg, Heritage, Tourism
Architecture $z Tennessee $x 20th century.
Architecture and tourism $z Tennessee $z Gatlinburg.
Heritage tourism $z Tennessee $z Gatlinburg.
Architects and builders $z United States $x 20th century.

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