A Historic Past Equipped for the Future
It is fitting that the Knoxville Chamber calls the city’s historic Market Square home when you consider business’ deep roots on the Square. The vibrant hub of downtown gets its name from
the Market House that once stood in the center of downtown Knoxville. Farmers from all over East Tennessee would bring their wagons into the Market House to sell their wares with the Square serving as the heart of early Knoxville and its commercial center.
Today, the Chamber is housed at 17 Market Square, on the second floor of what are actually several buildings built in 1875 but refurbished to offer state-of-the-art facilities for today’s business community. Bay brick lines the front of the facility with arched stone second story windows providing a view of a bustling Market Square. Originally used as three storefronts first occupied by a W.H. Drake & Co., a dry goods store, and a saloon, the building is full of history.
Ira A. Watson & Co. eventually started a dry goods store in one of the buildings that grew in popularity and eventually morphed into a large department store and chain known simply as Watson’s. The store was enormously popular and eventually had space in four different buildings on Market Square, even knocking down walls to make one large retail space. Eventually, Watson’s fell on hard financial times and was bought out by Peebles. At the time of the purchase in 1998, Watson’s operated several dozen stores in nine states.
In 1998, Knoxville developer David Dewhirst purchased the building. With a second floor spanning four normal building units, the perch provided plenty of room for staff offices and large meeting areas. It was the ideal set-up for the business community to gather once again in the heart of the city. In 2005, 17 Market Square became the Knoxville Chamber’s home, igniting a resurgence to the historic commercial center of the city and a reawakening of downtown Knoxville as a place to live, work, and play.
Historic information adapted from a report issued by the Knoxville Historic Zoning Commission.
Our building boasts several meeting rooms that are available for member use.
Take a virtual tour of our offices courtesy of Knox360 by clicking on the Google photo below.