US Custom House & Post Office (38)

Customs-House

314 West Clinch Avenue

First planned for this spot in the 1850s, but delayed by the Civil War, the Custom House was built between 1871 and 1874 of stout-looking East Tennessee marble at a time when the federal government was making statements of permanence in the skeptical South. It became the City of Knoxville’s first federal building and housed the post office on the first floor and federal courtrooms and offices on the upper floors. This was one of the earlier works of architect Alfred Mullett, whose best-known buildings are in Washington and New York, but who also designed Greystone Mansion on North Broadway. Mullett served as the Supervising Architect of the US Treasury Department from 1866 until 1874.

Always known as the Custom House – it did contain the custom office in charge of regulating commerce- it was most used as the main post office, a purpose it served for 60 years, through an early 20th-century expansion.

The third floor housed a federal courtroom; among those tried there was Wild West outlaw Harvey Logan, a.k.a. Kid Curry, the Wild Bunch hit man who escaped from the county jail in 1903 before his the trial was completed, never to be seen alive again.

It served as a TVA office building for about 40 years and has served as the East Tennessee History Center, with museum, libraries, and an auditorium, since the 1990s. The part of the building fronting Gay Street, designed by the firm of Barber McMurry, was added in 2004.

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