Mayna Treanor Avent
Mayna Treanor Avent Cabin, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Elkmont, Tennessee, is an early Appalachian mountain cabin that was used as a summer studio and retreat by noted artist Mayna Treanor Avent (1865–1959). It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Location: Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one mile south of Elkmont and west of Jake's Creek Trail
The cabin was built in 1845 or earlier by Humphrey Ownby. As a wedding present, Sam Cook (who lived nearby) bought the cabin for his daughter, Eva, when she married Steve Ownby. Sam paid $500 for the cabin and 50 acres. In 1918 Frank and Mayna Avent bought the cabin and 18.5 acres for $200. Mayna Treanor Avent (1868 – 1959) began using the cabin as an art studio in 1919 and continued to do so for over 20 years."In 1926, Frank and Mayna Avent gave the cabin to their son Jim Avent (who was on the original board of the Appalachian Club). In an effort to improve the cabin for his mother’s use, Jim made several alterations to the building. Windows were cut to see the apple orchard. There was no electricity, although they had permission.Ownership of the cabin and its 18.5 acres was transferred to the National Park Service in 1932. A lifetime lease was given to James Avent and his wife Jeannette. He subsequently transferred the lease to his children, Jacqueline and James Avent, Jr.In 1993 the National Park Service approved the request of the Tennessee Historical Commission that the Avent Cabin be placed in the National Register of Historic Places for two reasons. It was the summer studio of a noted regional artist, and also because it is a rare surviving mid-nineteenth century log structure representative of the pioneering architecture once prevalent in this mountain region. The Avent Cabin was owned by the family from 1916 to 1932 and leased from 1932 to 1992.
Avent Cabin - Rear and Front View
(...) High above Jakes Creek near the Elkmont area of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sits a beautiful, long forgotten cabin with surprising cultural significance. The Avent Cabin was built around 1845 by Humphrey Ownby, making it one of the oldest remaining structures in the Smokies. The remarkable detail that makes this cabin unique is that it was once owned by Mayna Treanor Avent, one of the South’s highly acclaimed artist. Born into a wealthy family in 1868, Mayna’s childhood home was Tulip Mansion located within view of Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage Estate. Mayna was a talented artist from a very young age; when she was 20 she left for Paris where she studied Art at prestigious Academie Julian. After her time in Paris, Mayna returned to Tennessee and married Frank Avent. The two eventually built a home on Belmont Boulevard in the bustling city of Nashville. Mayna’s art garnered praise from far and wide; commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery to paint reproductions of two famous portraits, and also by Vanderbuilt University to portray a chairman at the School of Medicine, Avent also has paintings on display in several distinguished museums including Tennessee State Museum.
The Avent family spent much time in their summer home in the Elkmont community of the Smokies. In 1918 the Avent’s bought the small cabin on Jakes Creek from Steve and Eva Ownby who had been given the cabin as a wedding present by Eva’s father Sam Cook. From that point on Mayna spent much of her time at the cabin, making it her official summer studio. The huge southeastern facing window was installed by Mayna’s son Jimmy to let in the beautiful natural light of the Smokies. (...)
I peered inside the window and felt like I had stepped back in time. Spread before me was a table filled with hand woven baskets, an old oil lamp and books stacked high. Single beds were made up with vintage checkered blankets and fluffy down pillows. In the far corner beside the fireplace stood a corner cupboard handcrafted to fit precisely into this space. I was surprised to see a large spinning wheel sitting near a red ladder that led to a loft. A colorful woven blanket hung behind the spinning wheel. There were intricate oil paintings on blocks of wood; they depicted the view from the cabin porch.
A book in the small kitchen contained notes from visitors that had found this beautiful gem before me. People that had been invited to stay by the Avent family and others like me that had stumbled across this magical place and enjoyed the serenity from the front porch. Stories and memories were recorded in the book including a thanks from a couple of hikers that had found the cabin when a snowstorm caught them by surprise; taking refuge in the cabin, the hikers had left 3 dollars to replace a screen that had been cut so they could get into the cabin. Sitting on the porch that day I didn’t know who Mayna Avent was, but I did know this was a very special place.
(...) Mayna Avent died in 1959 at the age of 91. Her artwork remains to be admired by all; it is a beautiful testament to a talented artist who lived life to the fullest, enjoying the simple pleasures this beautiful place has to offer. In 1994 the Avent cabin was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It achieved this status because it was deemed to be architecturally important, having been built in the mid-1800′s and because it is culturally important, having once been the studio of a renowned artist.(...)
Avent Cabin - single room and fireplace
Door to Kitchen