Photo Friday – Fidelity Building

The Fidelity Building is a four-story, three-bay brick office building on Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. Initially constructed in 1871 for the wholesale firm Cowan, McClung and Company, the building was home to Fidelity-Bankers Trust Company during the mid-twentieth century, and has since been renovated. The building was designed by architect Joseph Baumann. In 1984, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places for its architecture and its role in Knoxville’s late-nineteenth century wholesaling industry.

Cowan, McClung and Company was formed in 1858 by Knoxville merchants James H. Cowan, Perez Dickinson, and several members of the McClung family. During the years following the Civil War, the company became one of the most profitable in Tennessee as Knoxville’s wholesaling market grew exponentially. The company erected its four-story headquarters on Gay Street’s 500-block in 1871, and occupied the building until 1919. Another wholesale firm, Anderson-Dulin-Varnell, operated out of the building until 1929. The Fidelity-Bankers Trust Company occupied the building from 1929 until 1964.

The building’s first-story Gay Street facade, which reflects the 1929 remodeling, consists of an ashlar veneer, with a recessed entrance topped by an eagle-and-garland frieze. The rear of the building is largely unaltered from its 1871 design, the exception being a one-story addition added in the early 1980s. The building’s interior, which also reflects the 1929 remodeling, includes a central hall with gray marble walls and floors, and square Corinthian columns.

Informational Source: Wikipedia


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