Norris is a city in Anderson County, Tennessee, United States. Its population was 1,446 at the 2000 census. It is included in the Knoxville, Tennessee Metropolitan Statistical Area.
Norris was built as a model planned community by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in 1933 to house workers building Norris Dam. It is named in honor of Nebraska Senator George W. Norris, a long-term supporter of TVA.
Hydraulics laboratory building in the 1930's
TVA chairman Arthur Morgan envisioned Norris as a model of cooperative, egalitarian living. The city design was developed by TVA staff, who loosely based their design on the English garden city movement of the 1890s. Winding roads followed the contour of the terrain. Houses did not always face the street. A central common green and a belt of rural land around the town were reserved for use by residents. The houses, which were some of the first all-electric homes, were built using local wood and stone, according to twelve basic house designs that each included a porch and fireplace. Different exterior materials were used for visual variety.
Norris represents the first use of greenbelt design principles in a self-contained town in the United States. The town was the first in Tennessee to have a complete system of dial telephones. Norris Creamery was the first milk-producing plant in the world to be powered solely by electricity.
During the 1930's TVA officials excluded black families from the city, purportedly to conform to the customs and traditions of the area. However, black leaders said that poor whites and blacks had lived and worked together in the area long before TVA came into existence. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) complained repeatedly (in 1934, 1935 and 1938) about racial discrimination by TVA in the hiring, housing and training of blacks.
In 1948 the U.S. Congress directed that the city be sold at public auction. It was purchased for US$2.1 million by a Philadelphia investment group headed by Henry D. Epstein, which then sold individual homes to their residents. The city was officially incorporated in 1949. In 1953 the Epstein group sold its remaining Norris real estate to a corporation formed by Norris residents and known as the Norris Corporation.
U.S. National Register of Historic Places
U.S. Historic district
One of the standard house designs in the planned community of Norris
Location: Town of Norris on U.S. 441, Norris, Tennessee
Architect: Tennessee Valley Authority
Governing body: Private
NRHP Reference#: 75001727
Added to NRHP: July 10, 1975
The town, including 340 buildings and an area of about 4,000 acres (16 km2), was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975 as an historic district, designated the Norris District.
Today Norris primarily serves as a bedroom community for Knoxville and Oak Ridge. Services available within the community include one elementary school serving grades K-5, one middle school serving grades 6-8, a small grocer, and many other small businesses. The community's high school students attend Anderson County High School.
The Museum of Appalachia, founded by John Rice Irwin, is a popular attraction in Norris. Norris is a short distance from both the Norris DamState Park, part of which is in the city, and Big Ridge State Parks, which include popular camping areas.
A large portion of this area is contained in the Norris Municipal Watershed, which has an area of more than 2,200 acres (8.9 km2) and is managed for water supply, recreation, timber production, and wildlife, including deer hunting. There are nearly 20 miles (32 km) of recreation trails on the watershed area.
The government of Norris is vested in a mayor, a vice mayor and a three member city council. As of December 2012, the current mayor of Norris is Chris Mitchell. The vice mayor is Jack Black. The council members are: Bill Grieve, York Haverkamp, and Loretta Painter.
The original city hall was located in an old TVA dormitory on Ridgeway Drive until 1978, when it was destroyed by a fire. The cause was never determined. The city hall then moved to a location on Chestnut Road, but this location was destroyed in a fire in 2002. The facility on Chestnut Drive was reconstructed and continues to serve as a City Office and Community Building. The Norris Public Safety Department is located at 23 West Circle Road.
The city of Norris also helps fund a public library. The library has about 20,000 materials in its collection, which is located in the McNeeley Municipal Building.
City of Norris — official website
Norris Public Library
Norris, TN at the Open Directory Project
History and Facts on Norris Dam
The Planned Community of Norris, Tennessee
"Tennessee - Anderson County - Historic Districts"
National Register of Historic Places Focus