Top Religious Sites in Knoxville, Knoxville

Top Religious Sites in Knoxville (Self Guided), Knoxville

Knoxville is home to over 450 churches of many religious denominations. Situated at the core of the Bible Belt, many of them are Protestant. The following tour highlights the city’s most impressive religious sites, including Knoxville’s oldest church and other historically significant ones.
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Top Religious Sites in Knoxville Map

Guide Name: Top Religious Sites in Knoxville
Guide Location: USA » Knoxville (See other walking tours in Knoxville)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Author: Sandra
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • St. John's Cathedral
  • First Presbyterian Church and Its Cemetery
  • Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
  • St. John's Lutheran Church
  • Central United Methodist Church
  • Knoxville House of Faith
St. John's Cathedral

1) St. John's Cathedral

Established in 1826 (35 years after the founding of Knoxville), St. John’s Church was one of the congregations represented at the Primary Convention when the Diocese of Tennessee was organized in Nashville in 1829. In May 1844, with 25 communicants, St. John’s became the first mission from Eastern Tennessee to be admitted to the Diocese of Tennessee.

In 1891, the original building was razed to make room for a larger facility, which was completed in 1892. The architect for the current building was J.W. Yost of Columbus, Ohio. The stone church is built in a Latin cross form, but the nave, transepts, and apse are minimal in size compared to the crossing, resulting in a large central space. The architectural style is Richardsonian Romanesque. Features include a slate roof, turrets, buttresses, and rose windows.

A devastating fire in the church in 1919 destroyed many of the original stained glass windows, but the building was promptly restored. In 1963, extensive renovation created the undercroft under the nave floor. In 1986, St. John’s was designated as the seat of the bishop for the newly created Diocese of East Tennessee.

Adjacent to St. John's Episcopal Cathedral is the church office. This two-story, brick, classical building was erected in 1857 by O. F. Hill to serve as both, home and office. The original porch had Tuscan columns and extended the full width of the house; it was eventually removed. The present porch is comparatively modest. The house faces the James Park House across Cumberland Avenue to the south.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
First Presbyterian Church and Its Cemetery

2) First Presbyterian Church and Its Cemetery

The First Presbyterian congregation was organized by the Reverend Samuel Carrick in the 1790s, and the first church adjacent to the cemetery was erected in 1816. Shortly after the church's completion, disputes arose over several matters, such as the renting of pews and a doctrinal dispute between "Old Calvinists" and "Hopkinsians". As a result, a portion of the congregation split from First Presbyterian and founded Second Presbyterian Church circa 1818.

The present First Presbyterian Church, constructed in 1903, is a Neoclassical building with a Tiffany-style stained glass window.

The First Presbyterian's Graveyard is the oldest burial ground in Knoxville. Established in the 1790s, it contains the graves of some of Knoxville's most prominent early residents, including territorial governor and Constitutional Convention delegate William Blount and Knoxville founder James White.

In 1838, hundreds of Knoxvillians died when an unknown illness (possibly, malaria) swept through the town. Approximately one-tenth of the marked graves in the graveyard are dated "1838"— more than any other single year — and one tombstone mentions "the fever." The graveyard remained open to new burials until 1857, but the last burial took place here in 1879. During the Civil War, Confederate soldiers (who occupied the town in 1861–1863) kept horses in the cemetery, and Union soldiers (who occupied it in 1863–1865) used the church as a hospital and barracks.

Humorist George Washington Harris (1814–1869), an ardent Presbyterian, served as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church during his years in Knoxville. Two of his children, Harriet (1838–1846) and George (1841–1842), are buried here.

In the 1870s, the graveyard had an indirect effect on the career of future newspaper publisher, Adolph Ochs. Then a young teenager working after hours as a "printer's devil" for the Knoxville Chronicle, Ochs feared walking past the graveyard at night, as many locals believed it was haunted. Rather than leave work after his shift (which ended close to midnight), Ochs stayed until daylight, spending the extra time learning the typesetting and printing trades.

In 1996, the graveyard was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

3) Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

The Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception is a historic church at Summit Hill in Knoxville.

Knoxville was home to a small Roman Catholic congregation by the early 1800s. Father Stephen Badin traveled to the city on several occasions to visit this congregation. Railroad construction in the late 1840s and early 1850s brought scores of Irish immigrant laborers to the city, considerably boosting the congregation's numbers. The Church of the Immaculate Conception, the city's first Roman Catholic parish, was founded in 1855 on the site of the current church. The name of the church was inspired by Pope Pius IX's elevation of Immaculate Conception to official church doctrine the previous year.

Father Abram Joseph Ryan (1836–1886), the Poet-Priest of the Confederacy, was once a priest at this parish. He was the author of the Requiem of the Lost Cause, The Conquered Banner, written soon after the surrender at Appomattox.

The existing church sanctuary was constructed in 1886, in front of the earlier building. The brick church was designed by Joseph Baumann, who along with George Franklin Barber was one of Knoxville's first major professional architects. The church was designed in the Victorian Gothic style of architecture. The sanctuary is two stories tall, with a central clock tower in a turreted spire.

The church remains a Roman Catholic parish in the downtown portion of the city. However, Sacred Heart Cathedral in the west Knoxville community of Bearden is the seat of the Roman Catholic Bishop.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. John's Lutheran Church

4) St. John's Lutheran Church

St. John's Lutheran Church is a historic Lutheran church located in Knoxville. The church building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, both individually and as a contributing property in the Emory Place Historic District.

The St. John's congregation was formed in 1888. It was the first English-language Lutheran congregation in Knoxville. The founding members were Lutherans of German heritage who preferred English over German, which was then used in other local Lutheran churches. Initially, they met for worship in the First German Evangelical Lutheran Church in downtown Knoxville. In 1889, the group leased the former the Broad Street Methodist Episcopal Church building, on the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, for worship use. In 1890, the congregation incorporated, affiliated with the United Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in the South, and purchased the former Broad Street Methodist property.

Development of the current church building began in 1910 after church member Martha Henson donated land one block north of the church building. After adjoining land was acquired, construction of the new church building began in August 1911. The new church was completed and dedicated in 1912.

R. F. Graf was the architect of the Gothic Revival style building. Gothic elements in the building include arches at windows and doorways, exterior buttresses, and tracery. The church's interior utilizes quarter sawn oak. Hammerbeam trusses vault the sanctuary, rising to almost 40 feet (12 m). The sanctuary is surrounded by 61 stained glass windows, including a series of nine pictorial windows that depict scenes from the Bible in chronological sequence. The windows were designed by Von Gerichten Art Glass of Cincinnati and assembled onsite during building construction.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Central United Methodist Church

5) Central United Methodist Church

Central United Methodist Church is located on East Third Avenue in Knoxville. On November 9, 2005, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, and is listed as a contributing property within the Fourth and Gill Historic District.

The church was organized in 1924 as a merger between Broad Street Methodist and Centenary Methodist churches after a fire destroyed the Broad Street building. The present structure was completed in 1927 in the Gothic Revival style. Baumann & Baumann of Knoxville were the architects. The exterior of the church is primarily brick, but also includes stone, limestone and marble. At the time of its completion, the sanctuary was Knoxville's largest church auditorium, seating 1,600. The organ was purchased from the Riviera Theater in 1935.

The congregation is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Knoxville House of Faith

6) Knoxville House of Faith

The Knoxville House of Faith is located in the Fourth and Gill Historic District. Initially the Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church, this grand antique-looking structure with a Latin cruciform plan includes Gothic arches, steep gables and two towers. The building was constructed in 1906 in the Late Gothic Revival style featuring high vaulted ceilings., designed by A. J. Cloud, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

Walking Tours in Knoxville, Tennessee

Create Your Own Walk in Knoxville

Create Your Own Walk in Knoxville

Creating your own self-guided walk in Knoxville is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Knoxville’s Historical Buildings

Knoxville’s Historical Buildings

The city of Knoxville is home to dozens of listed historic properties, vividly illustrating the community’s rich and sometimes turbulent past. These include James White's Fort, L&N Depot, Tennessee Theatre and many others. Take this self-guided tour of downtown Knoxville to check out some of the most prominent historic and architectural gems the city has to offer and hear the stories...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.2 Km or 1.4 Miles
University of Tennessee Walk

University of Tennessee Walk

The University of Tennessee in Knoxville, located in downtown’s west end, draws many visitors to the city. Founded in 1794 as William Blount College, nowadays it covers 550 acres, including over 200 buildings and a faculty of more than 1,400. Take the following tour to discover UTK’s best attractions.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles
Country Music Tour

Country Music Tour

The cultural hub of Tennessee’s, Knoxville is one of America’s most dynamic musical cities, renowned for its critical role in the development of what is now called country music. While the complete history of “country” is still unwritten, you may want to hear some of the stories of Hank Williams, Elvis Presley and other big names associated with Knoxville. Take this self-guided walking...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.8 Km or 0.5 Miles
Downtown Knoxville Walk

Downtown Knoxville Walk

Home to a number of historic and cultural attractions, Downtown Knoxville is perpetually busy with tourists. The latter flock here, among other reasons, to explore the World’s Fair Park, Market Square, Gay Street, the Convention Center and other places of interest. Take this self-guided walk to acquaint yourself in detail with the best sites that Downtown Knoxville has to offer!

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles