Six Tennessee Sites Added to the National Register of Historic Places

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced six Tennessee sites have been added to the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register of Historic Places is the nation’s official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. It is part of a nationwide program that coordinates and supports efforts to identify, evaluate and protect historic resources. The Tennessee Historical Commission administers the program in Tennessee.

5pt; line-height: 12pt;">"From a giant guitar-shaped building in Bristol to the striking centerpiece of the state's judicial system in Nashville, these latest National Register listings illustrate the diversity of our state's historic places," State Historic Preservation Officer and Executive Director of the Tennessee Historical Commission Patrick McIntyre said. "The National Register is an honorary way to recognize this heritage in the hope that these places will be maintained for future generations to know and appreciate."

Sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places include:

Grand Guitar – The Grand Guitar, located between I-81 and State Street in Bristol, was completed in 1983. The guitar-shaped building is a replica of a Martin Dreadnaught guitar and was designed by building owner Joe Morrell. The two-and-three-story, 70-foot long building began drawing interest from tourists before it was completed and soon became an iconic landmark for Bristol, the “Birthplace of Country Music.” Morrell operated the building as a museum, recording studio, radio station and store. Original exterior features include the saddle bridge, sound hole, pick guard, finger board, turning keys and strings. The Grand Guitar is an excellent example of mimetic architecture. Mimetic architecture is characterized by a building that mimics something not usually seen as a building, like a giant coffee pot used as a restaurant. Popular during the early automobile age, it is a type of design usually seen in commercial buildings. The goal of modern mimetic design is to lure the traveler from the highway into a community and into the particular building, as the Grand Guitar does.

Tennessee Supreme Court Building – The Nashville architectural firm of Marr and Holman designed the 1936 Tennessee Supreme Court Building. Funded under the Public Works Administration, the building is important for its association with the New Deal era programs, decades of legal decisions, and its architectural style. The New Deal era building programs showed the federal government’s efforts to provide employment, improving the state’s economy. This building was constructed as the first building specifically for the Supreme Court’s use. Architecturally, the building is a fine example of the Stripped Classicism style popular in the 1930s and 1940s. This style uses elements form the earlier classical styles and “strips” the details down to a minimum. Details on the building include the Doric capitals, a cornice embellished with classical images, multi-pane windows, marble interiors and historic lighting fixtures. The building is still used by the state’s Supreme Court.

Mead Marble Quarry and Ross Marble Quarry – Mead and Ross Marble Quarries in Knox County were listed in the National Register as part of a larger project that documented the importance of the marble industry in East Tennessee from 1838 to 1963. For over a century, East Tennessee marble was considered a premier building material for civic and private buildings. Marble from East Tennessee quarries was shipped throughout the U.S. Once prominent on the landscape, today only remnants of most marble quarries remain. The Mead Marble Quarry and Ross Marble Quarry in Knox County are two of the principal quarries that have historic features remaining. Both quarries operated from 1890-1900 to around 1940. Mead Marble Quarry is characterized by a quarry pit, historic railroad corridor, bluffs and outcroppings with drill marks and other features that indicate marble was quarried here. Ross Marble Quarry contains two quarry pits, bluffs that indicate bench quarrying, outcroppings with drill marks and scattered waste blocks of marble. The quarry sites are now part of the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville.

Martin-Dobyns House – Built in 1884, the Martin-Dobyns House is important for the time that James Wiley and Lulu Lee Cooper Dobyns lived there. James Wiley Dobyns was the first mayor of the planned community of Kingsport and is considered one of the founding fathers of the city. He purchased the house in 1915 and resided there until his death in 1923. Kingsport was chartered in 1917 and Dobyns was first appointed mayor by Gov. Thomas Clark Rye. When his appointment ended, Dobyns was elected mayor. Lulu Lee Cooper Dobyns was a member of many civic organizations, served on the Kingsport Board of Education and was a leader in the community. She resided here until her death in 1951. Architecturally, the Martin-Dobyns is a good example of Folk Victorian architecture. Constructed for Andrew Martin, the two-story house is sheathed in weatherboard and is highlighted with sawn and cut woodwork, wood shingles, a screened front porch and decorative woodwork on the interior.

Blountville Historic District (boundary increase, boundary decrease, additional documentation) – The Blountville Historic District was listed in the National Register in 1972. The revised nomination updates the 40-year-old inventory of properties, sets precise boundaries for the historic district and clarifies the areas of significance noted in the first nomination. Originally nominated primarily for Blountville’s importance as one of the earliest communities in the state, boundaries of the district were expanded to more accurately reflect the community’s role in the Civil War in Tennessee. In addition, areas that had lost historic buildings were removed from the National Register listing. Buildings in the district span the period in 1785, when the Old Deery Inn was started, through the mid-20th century, when ranch houses and bungalows were built. Historic preservation efforts in Blountville began in 1940 with the restoration of the Old Deery Inn by Mrs. Joseph A. Caldwell and continue today, with the implementation of Historic Zoning and Conservation Overlay Zoning.

Links to each of the completed nomination forms can be found in the site descriptions listed above. For more information about the National Register of Historic Places or the Tennessee Historical Commission, please visit the website at  

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