Knoxville College Historic District

Wallace Hall

Knoxville College Historic District

Knoxville College is situated on a 17-building, 39-acre campus, located atop a hill overlooking the Mechanicsville neighborhood, just northwest of Knoxville's downtown area.

Along with administration and classroom buildings, the campus includes a performing arts center, a gymnasium, a library, a chapel, and a student center.

The school maintains dormitories for on-campus students, as well as a president's house, and cottages and apartments for faculty.

In 1980, eight buildings on the Knoxville College campus received recognition for having a role in minority education on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.

Many of the earliest buildings were constructed using student labor, student-made bricks, and lumber donated by alumni.

The district includes the following buildings: McKee Hall, the oldest building on campus, originally built in 1876, largely rebuilt in 1895 following a fire. The building is named for the Reverend O.S. McKee, who had established the first school for African-American children in Nashville in 1862. This building currently houses administration offices.

  • The President's House, built in the late 1880s. The house was originally built of wood, but brick siding was added in 1905.
  • Wallace Hall, built in 1890 as an orphanage. This building is named for Eliza B. Wallace, the school's principal of female students, 1877–1897.
  • Elnathan Hall, built in 1898 following the destruction by fire of the original Elnathan Hall, and altered in 1905 and 1971. This building has served variously as a women's dorm, administration building, and classroom building.
  • Two Faculty cottages, 1005 and 1009 College Street, both built in the Bungalow style in 1906.
  • McMillan Chapel, built in 1913, designed by Knoxville College alumnus, William Thomas Jones. Along with church services, the chapel served as the campus's primary performance venue. Notable guests who have delivered speeches at the chapel include George Washington Carver, Countee Cullen, W. E. B. Du Bois, Jesse Owens, William H. Hastie and Jackie Robinson.
  • Giffen Memorial Gymnasium, built in 1929.

In 2016, the preservationist group Knox Heritage placed the Knoxville College Historic District on its "Fragile Fifteen," a list of endangered Knoxville-area historic properties.

For more information contact:

  • Knox Heritage
  • PO Box 1242
  • Knoxville, Tennessee 37901
  • Phone: (865) 523-8008