Remote cabin memorializes artist Mayna Avent

Pam Yarnell, an avid hiker and a member of the Great Smoky Mountains Association, sent me an email in February of this year asking for my help. She wanted to make sure others were able to learn about a significant artist who had a special connection to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.


“A few years ago, a handful of us were hiking in the Elkmont area,” Yarnell wrote. “An 80-year-old gentleman who was hiking with us asked if we wanted to go see the ‘artist’s cabin.’ I had never heard of this — and so off we went.”

The Avent cabin is one of the oldest structures in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  It was hand hewn from oak, chestnut, and poplar in the mid-1800s.  Nashville-born Mayna Treanor Avent began visiting and painting the Smokies in 1910 and used the cabin as her summer studio from the mid-1920s until 1940.

Yarnell ended up on a mountainside overlooking Jakes Creek, about a mile south of the remains of the Elkmont community, at a log cabin known for having belonged to one of Tennessee’s most esteemed artists: Mayna Treanor Avent. Yarnell immediately became fascinated with the well-traveled woman who used this humble place as a summer studio, painting and sketching in the light that streamed in through an oversized window. Yarnell was especially intrigued when she saw that an article about Avent from Smokies Life journal had been cut out and placed in the cabin.

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