Present-day Knoxville is located near the center of the Great Valley of East
Tennessee. Its location, in the heart of the valley and at the headwaters
of the Tennessee River, make the city a center for the region's economy,
culture, and history.
Before European settlement, the valley was the hunting grounds of the
Cherokee Indians. James White, the founder of Knoxville, established his
home here in 1786 as a fort and cluster of cabins. By 1791, the community
was renamed Knoxville and enjoyed status as capital of the Southwest Territory.
By 1794, the town was home to Blount College, known today as the University
In the 1800s, Knoxville took advantage of its river access, railroad
connections, and geographical location to become one of the leading distributing
centers in the south. These same assets would make Knoxville a prize to
be fought for during the American Civil War. Like the rest of the state,
Knoxville was divided between the blue and the gray.
After the war, Knoxville rebuilt its economy through commerce, industry,
and natural resources that included lumber, coal, and marble. Those natural
resources and river-generated power helped establish Knoxville as an important
"New Deal" city in the early 20th century, as a gateway to the
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and as headquarters to the Tennessee
Valley Authority. In 1982, Knoxville was host to a World's Fair and 11
million visitors. The theme, "Energy Turns the World," reflects
the city's prominent role in technology.
Today, Knoxville is home to pioneers in industry, leaders in the
arts, and traditionalists working to preserve our heritage. Knoxville's
culture and history can be explored and discovered in its 20 museums,
numerous performing arts venues, and its historic neighborhoods.
Historical Sites in Knoxville
East Tennessee Historical Society
600 Market Street, Downtown
HOURS: Mon.-Sat. 10am-4pm, Sun. 1-5pm
Come face to face with our region's history makers in the East
Tennessee Historical Society Museum. From the King of the Wild
Frontier to the King of Country Museum, the ETHS Museum introduces
you to a cast of historic characters and rare artifacts, including
Davy Crockett's original "Old Betsy" rifle.
|Blount Mansion Association
200 W. Hill Ave., Downtown
|Blount Mansion, built in 1792, was the home and territorial
Capitol of Governor William Blount, a signer of the U.S. Constitution, and
later a US Senator. Blount helped draft the first Tennessee State Constitution
here. The Mansion is Knoxville's only National Historic Landmark.
The Armstrong-Lockett House
W.P. Toms Memorial Gardens
2728 Kingston Pike
Tue.-Sat. 10am-4pm, Sun. 1-4pm.
|Built in 1834, the home is appointed with 18th century
American and English furniture and decorative arts and holds an outstanding
collection of English silver. Magnificent formal Italian gardens feature
nine terraces and five fountains.
3148 Kingston Pike
HOURS: by appointment
|This 15-room, brick 1858 mansion was Confederate General
James Longstreet's headquarters during the 1863 siege of Knoxville. It features
beautifully terraced gardens, period furnishings, museum and library.
|James White's Fort
205 E. Hill Ave., Downtown
HOURS: March-Dececember 23
|The fort was the home of Gen. James White who settled
here with a land grant from North Carolina. The home is furnished with tools
and artifacts of the period, giving visitors a glimpse into the daily lives
of early settlers.
1711 Dandridge Ave.
|Antebellum home built in 1858. Listed on the National
Register of Historic Places. Occupied by Union and Confederate troops during
the Civil War while the Mabry family lived upstairs. A museum of family
life during and after the war.
|Marble Springs State
1220 W. John Sevier Highway
six miles south of downtown
Tue.-Sat. 10am-5pm, Sun. 2-5pm
Tue.-Sat. 1-5pm, Sun. 2-5pm.
|Built ca. 1792. Listed on the National Register of
Historic Places. Working farmstead including log structures and farm animals.
Living history interpreters provide guided tours.
|Ramsey House Plantation
2614 Thorngrove Pike
six miles southeast of downtown
HOURS: April-December 15
Tue.-Sat. 10am-4pm, Sun. 1-4pm
December 16-March, by appt.
|Built 1797. Listed on the National Register of Historic
Places. Boyhood home of Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey. First stone house in the region.
Notable 18th century architectural features. Includes gardens and period