Rotary Club of Knoxville


Rotary Club of Knoxville is celebrating its 100th anniversary with a series of events and community gifts.  Established in 1915, it is the first service club in the city and the third oldest Rotary Club in the state.

In an August 31 ceremony, the East Tennessee Historical Society designated the Knoxville Rotary Club as an ETHS Pillar of Support in recognition of its century of contributions to the betterment of the region and the world.  Rotary legacy gifts to ETHS included an endowment contribution and a beautiful bronze bust of Colonel David Chapman, the Knoxville Club’s first president and a leading force for the establishment of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The bust is by Hungarian artist Lajos Biro and may be seen in in the lobby of the East Tennessee History Center. The club also dedicated a Rotary Peace Garden and dove sculpture by local artist Richard Jolley at the Knoxville Museum of Art.

Rotary’s century of contributions to the region and world include providing college scholarships, furnishing books for schools, such as Beaumont Elementary, starting mentor-Interact clubs at Catholic and Webb schools, and funding arts-related activities for low-income or inner-city youngsters.  Among the club’s international service projects are providing holiday gifts for orphans and building a skating rink in Hungary, and enhancing nursing education programs and rebuilding a dam in Zimbabwe.

Steve Cotham, manager of the McClung Historical Collection is editing and updating a publication, First 100 Years of Rotary in Knoxville.

The ETHS Pillars of Support is a legacy program of the East Tennessee Historical Society that recognizes individuals and businesses for their support of the Society and for contributions to the betterment of the region. Each Pillars of Support member is featured on a special kiosk at the East Tennessee History Center with a video that includes interviews, family history, regional connections, and philosophies of giving.