East Knoxville comprises the neighborhoods on either side of its main artery, Magnolia Avenue. Today it’s lined by more than 100 magnolia trees, but it’s actually named for Magnolia Branner, a wealthy planter’s widow who was mother of a Knoxville mayor, and who lived on this stylish street. Because it led to Chilhowee Park, it became the route of Knoxville’s first electric streetcar, laid out in 1890 (by future U.S. Treasury Secretary William Gibbs McAdoo).
Over the years, Magnolia has been the address of Swan’s Bakery (1927) and Catholic High School (1930), as well as several unusual restaurants, like the Pizza Palace (1960, which once catered to families headed to and from the park. In 1946, 1925 Magnolia was home to an enterprising soft-drink bottler that came up with the first recipe for Mountain Dew, originally formulated as a mixer for moonshine. Parts of Magnolia appear in the 1996 John Turturro-Sam Rockwell film, Box of Moonlight.