Sunday, June 3, 2007

Blue Plum Festival

The annual Blue Plum Festival which features music and the arts (along with plenty of food) concluded in Johnson City last night. I've always wondered why it's named "blue plum." I suspected it was chosen to draw attention to the blues/jazz music that is often featured. Perhaps, I thought, it's also a subtle nod to the fact that Johnson City was once referred to as "Little Chicago" (which is known for its blues music). However, standing next to Fountain Square downtown I looked over and read the historical marker which says the following...

Johnson City
Incorporated - December 1, 1869
The town was formerly known as Green Meadows, Blue Plum, Johnson's Depot, Haynesville, then Johnson city. It is situated on land grants of 1782 to Robert and Joseph Young and in 1792 to Joseph Tipton. The town charter was repealed in 1879, but reincorporated in 1885. The name honors Henry Johnson, prominent merchant and postmaster. As industrial and educational center, it is the home of Milligan College, East Tennessee State University, and Steed College.
So now I know. But then another question arose, what the heck is Steed College?!? From the few references I could find, it was a business college that existed in Johnson City from 1940-1982.

Click here for a site detailing the history of Johnson City, TN.


  1. I have been told the following about the Steed College growing up. Steed College was named for Carlos and Molly Steed (hence the name Car-Mol Drive - Next to Indian Trail), who resided in the residence with a current address on Linkwood Dr, where I grew up. The school's building was torn down 2 or 3 years ago. It was a long 2 story white building situated behind Wesley United Methodist and Friendship Ford and abutting the exit ramp of interstate 26. You can still see it on Google maps, it is the black roofed builing parallel to the off-ramp.

  2. Yes, Steed College existed from 1940 to 1982. I was a member of its 1963 graduating class. It was privately owned and offered bachelors and associates degrees (mine was a BS in Accounting), and secretarial training. At one time it had expanded to have branches in several East Tennessee towns (Johnson City, Greenville, Elizabethton, and Kingsport) and in the 70s has as many as 2,000 students enrolled according to a newspaper story of the time.


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