There’s nowhere we walk that others haven’t trod before us: members of the Cherokee Nation, early white settlers, black people who were enslaved, both Union and Confederate soldiers. Get a taste of East Tennessee history by visiting one of these five historic homes in and around Knoxville. All of them are available for tours.
Blount Mansion: Built in 1792, Blount Mansion was the home of William Blount and his family. Blount, one of the signers of the U.S. Constitution, was appointed by George Washington to govern the Southwest Territory. Eventually, Blount was instrumental in admitting the state of Tennessee into the union. Blount Mansion also served as the territorial capital.
Marble Springs: The home and farm of Tennessee’s first governor, John Sevier, Marble Springs State Historic Site includes a cabin, kitchen, loom house, spring house and period tavern. Get a taste of early frontier history at the farm named for the Tennessee marble quarried nearby and the springs on site.
Ramsey House: Built of pink marble and blue limestone at a time when most dwellings were log cabins or wood frame houses, Ramsey House was considered “the finest home in Tennessee” when it was built in 1797. The Ramsey family was instrumental in the founding of Knoxville. Its members helped start the institution that would become the University of Tennessee; served as the first Mayor of Knoxville; and recorded Tennessee’s history.
Bleak House: Also known as Confederate Memorial Hall, Bleak House served as the headquarters for Confederate General James Longstreet and played a major roll in the Battle of Fort Sanders in 1863; in fact, a sharpshooter in its tower is said to be responsible for killing Union General William Sanders during that battle. The owners of the house, the Armstrong family, lived there alongside Confederate officers during the war. They named it after Charles Dickens’s popular novel at the time.
Mabry-Hazen House: Built in 1858 and overlooking downtown Knoxville and the Great Smoky Mountains, the Mabry-Hazen House was home to three generation of the same family. It offers one of the largest original family collections in the country with more than 2,000 original artifacts on display.