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VOL. 43 | NO. 3 | Friday, January 18, 2019

Doubters? Not in Boyd’s Ancient Lore Village

By Vince Troia

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A rendering of one of the grass-roof homes planned for Tom Boyd’s Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow. Development plans also feature 50 treehouses and a 150-seat restaurant at the Old Sevierville Pike site.

-- Photograph Provided

When Tom Boyd announced his intention to construct a $40 million, 40-acre fantasy world resort in south Knoxville based on his own vision of ‘Inner Earth,’ it was followed by widespread news coverage and bemusement.

After all, it’s quite rare to unveil a project such as Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow, which would feature more than 150 period homes (50 built as treehouses), a 150-seat restaurant, a 500-person meeting and event center and a 1,000-seat outdoor amphitheater.

The 81-year-old Boyd says he doesn’t care if anyone scoffs at his plan. The resort is based on a new book he authored, “The Bobbins – Outcast to the Inner Earth,” about a fantasy world where there is no negativity, and people from all cultures and places live and work together in harmony.

Ancient Lore Village, property Boyd owns at Nixon Road and Old Sevierville Pike, is designed around a central valley with a magic tree and sheep pasture. There will be daily events such as sheep herding with dogs, concerts, plays, a Christmas lighted valley and other activities for guests, the CEO of Boyd Hollow Resorts, Inc. explains. Every evening, the valley will come to life with fireflies projected across the property.

“My goal was to write a book that might get people thinking that there are no bad people, it’s just our conception of them,” Boyd says. “I wanted to create a mystical world with the understanding, regardless of race, ethnicity or beliefs, that no one was superior to any other.

“Now we want to bring the book to life, and that is why we’re creating Ancient Lore Village at Boyd Hollow.”

The book and resort’s usage of grass-roofed dwellings built into the landscape, along with elves, fairies, leprechauns and other characters, recall the concepts in the popular J.R.R. Tolkien “Lord of the Rings” stories and movies. Some reports suggested Boyd might face trademark violations, which he dismisses.

His book, which is copyrighted, is not like Tolkien’s works for a simple reason: It is all about ‘good,’ he says. There are no battles, no bloodshed, no wars, no dark side.

“The village will reflect only good and togetherness,” Boyd adds. “Everything is designed so that those who stay with us feel connected to each other. This resort will be unlike anything else in the world, and it will draw people from all over to Knoxville.”

There are still governmental hurdles to clear, and the property needs to be rezoned before construction can begin. Boyd, of course, isn’t worried. There is a Knox County Metro Planning Commission hearing set for Feb. 17 where he will request a zoning change from low-density residential to general commercial.

“We do not see any problems in acquiring the right codes and zoning. The people in the area are overwhelmingly supportive,” Boyd says. “One concern by some residents is increased traffic. However, the projected number of vehicles visiting the village will be less than the number of people that drive through a McDonald’s on any given day.”

Plans at Ancient Lore call for no motor vehicles on the property. Parking will be hidden, and electric golf carts will shuttle employees and guests.

Tom Boyd at his desk

The Village was projected to draw 200,000 visitors annually. Boyd, reacting to the news coverage, now says the number visiting the resort off Chapman Highway, about five miles outside of Knoxville, will be higher.

“The response to the opening story has been overwhelming,” he says. “Within the first three days, we had requests for booking that would exceed our capacity for the next 18 months.”

The majority of respondents were inquiring about getting married there, and nearly 40 percent were choosing the tree houses as their first dwelling choice, Boyd says. He said the inquiries were all positive.

“All of the comments that we received were centered around the excitement of staying in a peaceful place,” Boyd continues. “Parents particularly liked having no TV. (It’s true that there will be no televisions in the dwellings.) Some said, ‘Finally, I might be able to talk to my children’.”

The spirit of community that Ancient Lore is trying to foster is a central focus of the book and the primary vision Boyd is working to create. He contends the village is meant to contrast with today’s world, and something he’s been tussling with for some time.

“I had been working on another book where I was taking different world issues and trying to logically solve them. I concluded that any solutions I conceived would never change anything,” he acknowledges. “I then had the idea that if one can’t make change, then it might be possible to create a new concept that might add value to people’s lives.”

Boyd began moving dirt on his property in 2017 with this concept floating somewhere in his head. He also spent some time on the gubernatorial campaign trail with his son, Randy, now interim president at University of Tennessee-Knoxville, and witnessed what he described to WBIR in Knoxville, as “ugliness and negativity.”

He told the station he “wanted to create a good place where people came together, talked and visited.”

With Partners Development, a 45-year-old Knoxville company, DK LEVY (design), and Citadel Construction all on board, Boyd is confident his concept will bear fruit. The self-described “serial entrepreneur” says local investors are being tapped and he envisions a 2020 grand opening.

Boyd knows there are doubters, but for a man who retired “for about a week” in 2005, his confidence doesn’t waver. “I’ve had 17 businesses and I never had one that didn’t make money,” he told CNBC last year.

It is estimated that Ancient Lore will create 120 fulltime jobs, and there will be up to 100 artisans on the property at any given time doing demonstrations and selling their products.


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