Talahi Park History
The Panther Fountain in Talahi Park was inspired by the Cherokee legend of the “underground panther.” It was designed to symbolize the monumental grandeur of Talahi, the first planned and the most aesthetically designed Knoxville subdivision of the 1920s. Talahi is now part of Sequoyah Hills and was developed by Robert L. Foust and the Mutual Development Company during the early 1900s. A general a lack of planning in housing development existed at that time. During the same period, however, some of the most elaborate subdivisions ever to be constructed in the country were created. These places, such as Shaker Heights in Cleveland, OH might have been the inspiration for the development of Talahi. Foust wished to create “a place of harmony having an Indian past, a technical future, and a natural, forest setting.” The word “Talahi” is a Cherokee expression for “in the oaks,” and was chosen for the name of the subdivision. The streets were given Native American names and structures (fountains, pavilions, and lamp posts) were created to give a subtle suggestion of this previously Cherokee place. Foust envisioned the fountain “Here rises a shafted, lighted fountain with head of tawny panthers supplying jets of water. Surrounding the fountain is a circular bed of tulips planted to reproduce when blooming, in proper coloring and design, a blanket of the Cherokee.”
Old Papoose Park is the area adjacent to Panther Fountain, encompassed by a rectangular wrought iron fence and two large stone gateways. It was planned as an area for children to have a playground, sand pile, wading pool, and a place for sailboats.
The company was not able to complete all features of Talahi. However, this park around Panther Fountain and the old Papoose Park creates a focal point that unites the surrounding houses and the people who live there, as well as providing park space for the general public.
Foust’s Talahi design set a precedent of the quality for later Sequoyah Hills development.