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Shoebox Collection

The Knoxville History Project Continues Its Series on Little-Known Photographs Submitted by Locals

At the nonprofit Knoxville History Project, we are always on the lookout for old images for our Knoxville Shoebox digital collection. If you have interesting photographs, from any era, we’d love to hear from you so we can preserve the visual history of Knoxville and make them available for researchers of the future. Please contact us at (865) 337-7723 or email Learn more at

Downtown Knoxville

A brand-new photographic book documents the growth of Knoxville through its iconic downtown core, site of the city’s most memorable stories and legends. $23.99, 126 pages. 

Clinch Ave at Custom House

This circa 1914 postcard looking east along Clinch Avenue at the corner of Market Street highlights the weather-bureau kiosk, still standing today by the Custom House, originally installed in 1912. In addition to providing weather forecasts, it was a popular social spot, serving much like a modern water cooler. Down the street to the right is the old Fouché building, torn down in the 1990s—several years before the construction of a new entrance to the East Tennessee History Center, part of a seamless expansion of the Custom House. In the distance is the Burwell Building, and to the left on Gay Street, just across from the Holston, is the Imperial Hotel, which burned in 1916.  Shared by Alec Riedl.

Downtown Post Office

Knoxville greeted the Great Depression with the completion of some large new buildings that changed the look of downtown, including the city’s most conspicuous use of local pink Tennessee marble: a new post office on Main Street with a federal courthouse and judges’ chambers. The building, seen here not long after it opened in 1934, was designed by local architects Baumann and Baumann.  Its pediment features four marble eagles sculptured by Italian-born artist Albert Milani. Today its ornate federal courtroom is used by the Tennessee Supreme Court, but the building still includes a post-office branch. Shared by David Harris. 

First Methodist Church

First Methodist Church, seen here at the southeast corner of Clinch and Locust, originally opened as First Methodist Episcopal in 1894. This church was one of two Methodist churches downtown, the result of a congregational split relating to the Civil War. Although this impressive structure looks solid enough to last several centuries, it was torn down in 1966 when the church congregation moved to Kingston Pike. Shared by Cindy and Mark Proteau.

Draughon Business College

Draughon Business College, seen here in the 1930s, stood across from the Custom House at Market and Clinch. It was particularly known for teaching basic business skills, including accounting and stenography, and attracted out of town students. Originally founded in 1907 on Gay Street, the college moved to this Victorian commercial building around 1917.  The visible advertisement, I. Beiler, refers to Isadore Beiler, a Rumanian Jewish immigrant who settled in Knoxville in 1888 and ran a newsstand here for 57 years. He died at age 80 in 1946. This spot is now the southwest corner of Krutch Park. Shared by Jody Davis.