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Ijams Nature Center History

Ijam’s Nature Center honors Mr. and Mrs. Harry Ijams, whose estate was part of the Perez Dickinson farm. It became a park in 1964 as a result of the efforts of the Knoxville Garden Club and the Knox County Council of Garden Clubs. The Ijams family spent 50 years developing it as a bird sanctuary and wildlife refuge.

Harry (H.P.) and Alice Yoe Ijams built their home in 1910 and over the next 50 years developed the 20-acre property into a wildlife sanctuary that they graciously shared with the community. Harry was an artist and avid birdwatcher who often drew the scenes and animals found on the Ijams property. Alice was a talented horticulturist and kept a greenhouse for propagating small native plants and shrubs that were sold or planted on the grounds.

Mr. and Mrs. Ijams had four daughters, Elizabeth, Jo, Mary and Martha, and were very active in local Girl and Boy Scout activities. A portion of their property was used by the Girl Scouts as a summer day camp. The site was called "Camp Mary Ijams" after their daughter who tragically died in 1932.

Together they grew wildflowers and ferns, developed ponds for aquatic life and created beautiful, natural habitats that now function as Ijams Nature Center’s "outdoor classrooms." For years, people living in the area came to the Ijams’ home to walk the trails and talk about nature.

The Visitor Center has an Ijams family history exhibit that is reminiscent of the original Ijams’ family homestead and contains genuine family artifacts such as the original doorknocker, door, windows, books and stuffed birds

For more information, please visit www.ijams.org.


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