Tennessee: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Tennessee.

Blount Mansion

Location: Knoxville, Knox County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: From 1792 until his death, this impressive structure was the residence of William Blount (1749-1800), who had already represented North Carolina in the Continental Congress (1782-1783, 1786-1787) and signed the U.S. Constitution when he moved west to present-day Tennessee in 1790. While governor of the Southwest Territory, Blount was instrumental in Tennessee’s admission to the Union and was one of its first U.S. senators.

Chucalissa Site

Location: Memphis, Shelby County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Chucalissa is a Walls Phase (1400-1500) prehistoric mound and plaza complex, and the best known and preserved of such sites in the Central Mississippi River Valley. The site is known for its excellent preservation of architectural, floral, faunal, and human skeletal materials.

Fort Pillow

Location: Fort Pillow, Lauderdale County

Relevant issues: African American history, Civil War, military history

Statement of significance: Constructed by Confederate engineers, the fort was occupied by Union troops in June, 1862, and recaptured in April, 1864, by Confederate forces under Major General Nathan Bedford Forrest. Among the approximately 570 Union soldiers were 262 black soldiers–former slaves recruited in Tennessee and Alabama; in the savage, no-quarter fighting, 229 black soldiers were killed by the Confederates. News of the fight–labeled a massacre–had a profound effect: “Remember Fort Pillow” became a battle cry of black soldiers.

Franklin Battlefield

Location: Franklin, Williamson County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history

Statement of significance: Early on the afternoon of November 30, 1864, General John Bell Hood, against the advice of his staff, ordered his Army of Tennessee to attack Union forces under the command of Major General John M. Schofield. Numerous assaults were made against the entrenched Federals; each assault was repulsed. The enormous losses sustained by Hood’s army helped doom his Tennessee campaign.

Franklin Plantation

Location: Gallatin, Sumner County

Relevant issues: African American history, business and industry

Statement of significance: Isaac Franklin (1789-1846) was a principal in the largest slave-trading firm in the antebellum South. At its height, Franklin & Armfield had offices in Alexandria, Virginia; Natchez, Mississippi; and New Orleans, Louisiana, as well as agents in every important southern city and its own fleet of sailing ships. The firm trafficked in thousands of humans annually. Franklin built Fairvue Plantation (1832) when he decided that he would prefer the life of a planter to that of a slave trader. The two-and-a-half-story red brick home with associated outbuildings, such as four slave houses and an overseer’s house, reflects the culture of antebellum planters in the upper South.

George Peabody College for Teachers

Location: Nashville, Davidson County

Relevant issues: Education

Statement of significance: The University of Nashville was the first college to receive aid from the Peabody Fund, which had been established in 1867 by philanthropist George Peabody to help rebuild the South’s educational system. In 1875, the university began to function as a state normal school; after 1889, it was known as Peabody Normal College and in 1909 incorporated as the George Peabody College for Teachers. Peabody College moved to its present location in 1914.

Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7

Location: Franklin, Williamson County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, political history

Statement of significance: This was the scene of the signing of the Treaty of Franklin (1830), which provided for the removal of Chickasaw Indians from their eastern homelands to a region beyond the Mississippi. President Andrew Jackson personally opened the meeting, the only time a U.S. president would journey to an Indian council for the purpose of making a treaty.

Jubilee Hall, Fisk University

Location: Nashville, Davidson County

Relevant issues: African American history, education

Statement of significance: Completed in 1876, this Victorian Gothic structure is the oldest building on campus. Fisk University was founded in 1865 by the American Missionary Association to provide a liberal arts education for African Americans after the Civil War.

Long Island of the Holston

Location: Kingsport, Sullivan County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, western expansion

Statement of significance: Located just east of the junction of the North and South Forks of the Holston River, Long Island was a sacred council and treaty ground surrounded by the vast hunting territory of the Cherokee Nation. Starting at Long Island in March, 1775, Daniel Boone (1734-1820) led a team of thirty axmen to open the trail through Cumberland Gap that was to gain fame as the Wilderness Road. Between 1775 and 1795, this trail was used by more than 200,000 emigrants.

Moccasin Bend Archaeological District

Location: Chattanooga, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This is the best-preserved and most important compact, yet diverse, sample of archaeological remains known in the Tennessee River Valley, indicative of Chattanooga’s pivotal status in trade, communications, economics, and political importance in the interior Southeast. The site includes evidence of occupation by Native American groups of the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods; because of sixteenth century Spanish trade and gift items found there, the site provides significant opportunities to study the early contact period in the Southeast. Also included are Civil War earthworks associated with the Battle of Chattanooga.

Old First Presbyterian Church

Location: Nashville, Davidson County

Relevant issues: Art and architecture

Statement of significance: The Old First Presbyterian Church was designed very late in William Strickland’s career while he was engaged on the construction of the Tennessee State Capitol. Having started his architectural career as an apprentice to Benjamin Henry Latrobe (1764-1820), Strickland (1787-1854) advanced in his knowledge of engineering and became one of the foremost architects in the United States. The Old Presbyterian Church, begun in 1849, is Strickland’s largest and only full Egyptian temple, and is known affectionately as “Karnak on the Cumberland.”

Polk House

Location: Columbia, Maury County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: Constructed in 1816, this two-story brick house was the home of James K. Polk (1795-1849), eleventh president of the United States (1845-1849), who lived here for several years during his youth.

Rhea County Courthouse

Location: Dayton, Rhea County

Relevant issues: Education, legal history, religion, science and technology

Statement of significance: From July 10 to 21, 1925, this was the scene of the controversial and widely publicized trial of John Thomas Scopes (1901-1970) for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in a Dayton public school. A battle of wits between two great lawyers–William Jennings Bryan, for the prosecution, and Clarence Darrow, for the defense–the trial symbolized the clash between fundamentalist and modernist thought in science, theology, philosophy, and politics.

Sycamore Shoals

Location: Elizabethton, Carter County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, military history, Revolutionary War

Statement of significance: A treaty signed by the Cherokee here in 1775 allowed the United States to purchase twenty million acres of Cherokee land. Also, in 1780, the site served as the rendezvous point for the Overmountain Men on their way to Kings Mountain, where they contributed to the defeat of the British army.

X-10 Reactor, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Location: Oak Ridge, Roane County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: When it went into operation on November 4, 1943, this was the world’s first full-scale nuclear reactor and the first to produce significant amounts of heat energy and measurable amounts of plutonium; in 1946, it was the first to produce radioactive isotopes for medical therapy. For many years, X-10 was the principal atomic research facility in the United States.

York Farm

Location: Pall Mall, Fentress County

Relevant issues: Military history, World War I

Statement of significance: From 1922 until 1964, this was the residence of Alvin Collum York (1887-1964), highly decorated World War I soldier. On October 8, 1918, during the Battle of the Argonne Forest, Sergeant York fought a virtually one-man battle against the enemy, killing twenty-five enemy soldiers, taking 132 prisoners, and capturing thirty-five machine guns. For his actions, York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and magnified his legend by refusing to capitalize on it.

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