Historic Emory Place
Gallery Building is on the United States National Registry of Historic Places
This beautiful building that is now our gallery home is at the "pivot point" of Emory Place and was built in 1890.
It was originally the Wittle and Spence Trunk and Bag Co. In 1910, when North Knoxville City became a new municipality, this building was established as a US Post Office. The basement of the building, no longer accessible from the upper floors, was home to the horses used for delivering mail to the rural part of the county. City mail was available by pick up only and each rural route was serviced once per week. James A. Ashe, one of the first five US Mail Carriers in Knoxville, resided on the top floor of the building. From a preserved hand-drawn floor plan, we know only one wall has moved in the space since his residence there in the early 1900s.
Prior to 1905, Emory Place was known as Central Market. In the space now occupied by the Wittle and Spence Trunk building, there was a long, two-way wood-frame building, bent to fit its odd space. It housed 30 "market" stalls where farmers from the surrounding area would come to sell their goods. The market here between Broadway and Central (then known as Crozier) and at the end of Gay Street was more accessible for the horse-drawn carts than maneuvering through the congestion of Market Street downtown. By the late 1800s, this area was no longer an active "Central Market" so the street was renamed in 1905 in honor of the late Reverend Isaac Emory (1830-1904), a victim of the New Market train wreck of Sept. 1904.
Rev. Emory was born in New York and came to Knoxville as a sort of missionary. His goal was to establish "Sunday schools" in the local churches, as these were not common at the time. He became known as "the children's friend" which is eulogized on his grave in Old Gray Cemetery.
The southern terminus of the famous Dummy Line, a commuter train which connected Fountain City to Knoxville via multiple daily trips, was here at Emory Place. Across the street on Emory Place was the Walla Walla Gum Factory, which closed during WWII due to supply shortages.
This small street at the north end of Gay Street has been home to a great amount of history and we are honored to be able to open this beautiful building as a destination to its Knoxville residents to explore for the first time in many years. We are excited to be a part of the collaboration to restore vibrance to this Old North Knoxville street. The owners of many of the connected buildings are true visionaries, and we are excited for what is yet to come at Emory Place.