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Waynesville Celebrates Return of Historic Arch June 1

The original arch in Downtown Waynesville


On April 1, 1933, as a way to celebrate the enthusiasm surrounding the development of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Town of Waynesville Board of Aldermen voted to donate $50 to help pay for the construction of a “Parkway Sign at the corner of Depot and Main Streets” in downtown Waynesville.

Later that month, a scale model of the sign was displayed in the window of the Massie Furniture store and a benefit movie show was held with proceeds helping to raise the remainder of the $250 needed to construct the arch.

Painting of the new arch by artist T. Pennington

Oscar Briggs, Waynesville’s superintendent of water & lights, fabricated the arch from steel and sheet iron, and installation began on Tuesday night, May 30, 1933, and was completed the next day. A local sign painter later added the lettering.

In the late 1950s, the arch was repainted, and the wording changed to “Waynesville Scenic Center Eastern America.”

After spanning Main Street for nearly 40 years, the arch began to show its age. The decades of exposure to the elements had taken a toll, and the iron sheeting was riddled with rust. After much debate, it was disassembled and buried in the city landfill in 1972.

Now, more than 50 years after it was removed, the historic Gateway Arch will return to Main Street, thanks to the Downtown Waynesville Association. An unveiling ceremony will be held Saturday, June 1, beginning at 5:30 p.m. There will be live music and food trucks available during the event.

To purchase a print of the new arch painting by T. Pennington, visit

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