Norris, Tennessee

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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.

The city design was developed by TVA staff,[3] 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.[3][4] 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.[3]

During the 1930s 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.[5]

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.[3]

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