Save the S&W!

After reading your "Lost Cause?" article by Jack Neely, Feb. 11-18, Volume 9, No. 6, I felt I had to say something.

I remember visiting the S&W Cafeteria as a child. My parents took me there often before it closed and, yes, I did have the Salisbury steak. I even had my Girl Scout banquets there. The S&W is a beautiful building and important cultural landmark. I just don't understand why Knoxville's leadership is so hell-bent on destroying all things old and in turn obliterating OUR history. Which, in the case of the S&W cafeteria, is for little more than a few extra parking spaces and what will surely be a wide, barren, underutilized plaza! I doubt that in the distant future, when this Justice Center is torn down to make way for more progress, anyone will protest the loss of those parking spaces and plaza. If the S&W is torn down, a little more of our heritage will be lost, never to return, nor to be recreated!

It sickens me when I look at photographs my father took in the early '70s of downtown Knoxville and see how many buildings have been torn down. Many areas of downtown Knoxville have been decimated by this type of development. A few areas are: Summit Hill Drive, TVA HQ, in and around the World's Fair Park, and the Civic Coliseum. At a recent forum, one of the panelists stated that "sometimes historical structures have to be torn down in the name of progress." Well, since 1970, more than 100 historical buildings have been razed, yet in that same period all aspects of downtown have deteriorated. Some progress!

I wondered how long it would be before one of our leaders would suggest that it's okay to lose the S&W since we have another Art Deco building being saved on Gay Street. The building adjacent to the architecturally wonderful Miller's building is nice, but it is an example of Art Moderne, and is just a facade. It does not have the spatial quality nor the social impact which the S&W had on the city of Knoxville.

Many Knoxvillians and visitors remember the S&W and are nostalgic for it. It was a place where the citizens of Knoxville came together. The S&W's architectural significance played a major role in its popularity. In fact, that's the very reason that I remember dining at the S&W cafeteria as if it were yesterday. I loved standing in line and looking into the big mirror on the wall. I was able to see the entire cafeteria and everything that was happening in that wonderful old gathering space. I remember walking up and down the beautifully detailed winding stairs. It was a great space and still is. So, I am, at age 32, nostalgic just as many older Knoxvillians for this grand building. The S&W is a great example of the Egyptian-Deco architecture, spatially it's wonderful (a quality which so many buildings built today lack), AND it's a Knoxville landmark. THE S&W SHOULD BE SAVED!

Cherie Piercy-Goss

Ed. Note: Ms. Piercy-Goss is a partner in GossPiercyGoss Architecture; fellow partner Buzz Goss was quoted in the story.

Here's to Cojones

No one really needs to defend Adrienne Martini's just criticism of CBT's Ghosts, but having just read the near-threatening missive submitted by Nadine Davis, which ends with a plaintive hope that Martini loses her job over a theatre criticism, I am compelled to comment. For a start, Ms. Martini didn't spoil Ghosts for anyone unlucky enough to have endured it before her criticism was published. And furthermore, Davis' personal attack on the critic—i.e., the reference to perceived "intellectual insecurities" of Ms. Martini—made me grin. In truth, Martini's insights demonstrated the kind of clarity and precision lacking in the pseudo-intellectual belching and farting indulged by Ms. Davis or anyone else pretending to find "moments of real brilliance" in the play. There's a reason why experimental theatre is "risky and unprofitable": inert, pretentious horse shit yields little support from a community. Ms. Davis may be "thrilled" to host "risk-taking" directors, but some of us appreciate a critic with the cojones to warn the innocent bystanders.

Julie Lieber