Vulcan Foundry

Vulcan street cover

This Art Deco influenced utility cover caught my eyes while I was photographing Knoxville’s US Courthouse and Post Office.  I appreciate iron works of any type.  Vulcan was a popular name for foundries, as it is the name of the Roman god of fire and smithing.  Vulcan Iron Works founded in Chicago moved to Chattanooga in the 1960s, Vulcan Foundry in Denham Springs, Louisiana was acquired by East Jordan Iron Works in 1995, and there was also a Vulcan Iron Works in Fort Worth.  So, whose cover is this?

Adding V-8441 (the number on the lower edge of the cover) to the search revealed the answer.  The Knoxville Utilities Board Standards and Specifications: Section 02080 Material provides a list of approved vendors for supplies purchased by Knoxville utilities.

Lid for square meter box frame, cast iron, V-8441, East Jordan Iron Works, Inc.

East Jordan Iron Works was founded in East Jordan, Michigan in 1883.  Currently known as simply ej, the company acquired the Vulcan Foundry in Louisiana and continue to manufacture from there, are well as other locations, and provide infrastructure materials to 150 countries.

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Cameron School, Nashville

Cameron School 2

Cameron Street High School was one of two schools for African Americans in Nashville prior to desegregation.  The final all-black class graduated in 1971.  The Gothic Revival styled school was designed by architect Henry C. Hibbs and constructed 1939-1940 with support from the Public Works Administration (Van West, 2001).  Nile E. Yearwood was the builder/contractor.  In 1954, the African American firm of McKissack and McKissack designed the additional wing.

The school was recently taken over by Nashville Charter School (Grace Tatter, 60 years after Brown: Nashville Charter School looks toward students’ futures while celebrating school’s past, June 2, 2014. Chalkbeat Tennesee: Education News).  Now known as Cameron College Prep, the majority of the students are Latino, and several nationalities and ethnic groups are present, with 30 languages being spoken, and 75% speak a language other than English at home.  The school’s mission:

We will do whatever it takes to graduate 100% of our students and send them to a four year college.

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Kendrick Place

Kendrick Place 4The Victorian Vernacular row houses are named for preservationist and visionary for a downtown Knoxville revival Kristopher Kendrick.  Built in 1916 for “utility and comfort” (Historic Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour,, the houses feature projecting iron balconies and neoclassical influences of the cornices.  The architect was unknown, but some report Benjamin Sprankle might have constructed them.  Sprankle built the Daylight Building and the Sprankle Building featured in the two previous posts, which housed TVA in its early years.  Since Sprankle built his own block of houses where he also lived a few streets over, others doubt his involvement in what was originally named Masonic Courts due to the location  adjacent to the Masonic Temple.

Kendrick renovated the Masonic Courts, and gained a reputation as a preservationist, for his work in protecting architectural, artistic, and historic legacies of Knoxville.  He was particularly focused on downtown and the Old City, and the success of the “downtown renaissance in the urban core” is attributed to his efforts (Josh Flory, October 12, 2012,

The key is to get people to want to move into historic buildings, and he did it.

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New Sprankle Building: Home to the Tennessee Valley Authority

Pembroke block

Originally known as “The New Sprankle Building” in honor of the developer, Benjamin Sprankle, what is now the Pembroke was constructed in 1927, across the street from one of Sprankle’s other buildings, the Daylight.  Constructed in a “commercial vernacular style” (, the building housed the headquarters of TVA.  By 1933, TVA occupied 106 offices on 4 floors of the Sprankle.

Architect Roland Wank, who would design dams and power plants for TVA for several years, was located in the New Sprankle.

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In the 1980s, the building was renovated to residential condominiums and the name was changed to the Pembroke.  (I mean really, who would want to say you reside at “the Sprankle”)  In April of 2015, a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom 1130 square foot apartment sold for $295,000.  Probably a bit more upscale than when it was occupied during the Great Depression.

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Daylight Building

Daylight Block

Knoxville’s Daylight Building (501-517 Union Street) was constructed in 1927 by real estate developer Benjamin H. Sprankle.  According to and the Historic Downtown Knoxville Walking Tour, the building housed the engineering staff of the Tennessee Valley Authority from 1933 until the 1980s, when TVA built a new office building.  Daylight was one of four downtown buildings that housed TVA offices from the 1930s-1980s.  It was named for the design that allowed natural light into the offices, even those on interior offices, thanks to the series of windows, a rooftop clerestory, and the opalescent glass on the metal canopy.

canopy detail

When Dewhirst Properties began preservation and rehabilitation of the historic building, the glass has been painted over in one of those poorly conceived 1970s re-dos.  It was thought to be tin, and not until the restoration work began was it discovered that it was actually glass.  The purpose of the design allowed a soft glow of yellow to filter into the first floor storefront windows.

It was sitting empty and forlorn when Dewhirst acquired it with the intention of establishing storefront businesses again on the first floor, and apartments on the second floor.  They also discovered that the casings on the windows were copper, and had been painted yellow at some point.  In 2010, Dewhirst was awarded a Preservation Rehabilitation award by Knoxville for the work on the building.  It currently houses a bookstore (read about that at Suzassippi’s Lottabusha County Chronicles), local food store, and other parts of the building are under renovation.  The entrance at the corner leads to the upstairs apartments–cozy, “intimate quality living spaces.”

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Spengler’s Corner, part 2

end of block State street

Only 4 of the buildings picture above are in Spengler’s Corner Historic District.  The two buildings to the far right are c. 1940 and c. 1895.  No. 129 is the former Stag Club Building, built by H. M. Taylor Construction Company (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).  Continuing right to left, the buildings are described in Jack A. Gold’s 1979 nomination form for the National Register of Historic Places:

No. 123 N. State Street is the former Mary Frances restaurant, c. 1890

Two-story three-bay brick…shallow corbeled and dentiled cornice with central gabled section and parapet..wide rectangular window bays emphasized by panels and pilaster strips..stuccoed-brick storefront altered ca. 1960 with plate glass and recessed entrance. 

No. 121 N. State Street is Tucker Printing House, c. 1900

One-story single bay brick…first-floor storefront topped by stamped-metal cornice with garlanded frieze…dentiled metal roof cornice with building name inscribed on frieze.

No. 117 No. State Street, c. 1910, was also in use by Tucker Printing in the 1930s

Two-story four-bay brick…with prominent modillioned metal roof cornice…storefront altered with plate glass and aluminum sheathing along the former transom.

No. 113 Tucker Printing House, c. 1900

One-story single-bay brick commercial building…first-floor storefront topped by stamped-metal cornice with garlanded frieze…dentiled metal roof cornice with building name inscribed on frieze.

I located news references to Tucker Printing from around 1915-1955, and references to the “Old Stag Club” in 1909 and the Stag Club in 1921.

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Spengler’s Corner

State Street

Part of the Spengler’s Corner Historic District in downtown Jackson, these three buildings occupy mid-block in the 100 block of North State street.

…prominently sited grouping of twelve late-nineteenth and early-twentieth-century brick commercial buildings…(Jack A. Gold, 1979, National Register of Historic Places nomination form)

From left to right, the buildings are described by Gold in the nomination form:

107, c. 1890, High Victorian Italianate: dentiled metal roof cornice; segmental-arch metal window cornices decorated with anthemia and floral medallions; circular ventilators above windows

In comparing the current appearance of the building with the c. 1930s photographs and the 1979 photographs in the nomination form (click on the link above to the nomination form, which takes you to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and select the link to Spengler’s Corner Historic District to view the photographs), the iron balcony attached below the upper story windows was not present.  The lower windows had been bricked in, and the metal cornice was still in place.

109, c. 1885, High Victorian Italianate, with Art Deco facade renovation c. 1935: fenestration articulated by flat, paired, pilaster strips and two raised panels with floral relief pattern; storefront intact with diamond-pattern sash in transom

The 1930s photograph and the 1979 photograph showed this building with a metal awning that projected over the sidewalk, below the transom, where the wooden pent roof is now located.  The metal overhang above the transom did not appear in either 1930s or 1979 photographs.

111, c. 1895, Eclectic Revival: stamped-metal roof cornice with garlanded frieze topped by a curved-end parapet

The upper story windows had been replaced with metal casement windows by 1979.  Gold indicated the oriel window and semi-Palladian window were scheduled to be returned to the original design.  Photographs show modifications, in that the replaced Palladian differs slightly from the original in size, and the original oriel window had the same decorative garland above the windows.

Next, we’ll mosey on down the rest of the block and see how it fared since the 1930s, and the decline that affected downtown Jackson and was evident in Gold’s 1979 photographs.

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