The Knoxville store has been a retail landmark in Downtown Knoxville since 1898. The building was constructed after the "Million Dollar Fire" in 1897. The fire started in a nearby hotel and destroyed the entire block on our side of the street. The flames spread so fast and were so intense that the Chattanooga Fire Department was called in to assist. They put their pumper on a train that left for Knoxville approaching speeds of 90+ miles per hour.
When the building was rebuilt, it was home to the McNulty Grocery and Dry Goods Co.
In 1901 M. M. Newcomer's Department Store made the move from across the street into the building at 402 South Gay Street. It was one of Knoxville's bigger stores.
As an interesting aside to the history of the actual building, the Original Mast Store in Valle Crucis had a long relationship with Knoxville, which makes the store on Gay Street even more interesting. In perusing the invoices for goods purchased for the shelves from 1902 until 1920, numerous invoices had Knoxville addresses. One of the addresses is just down the street at what is now the Downtown Grill and Brewery. In the early 1900s, it was Woodruffs, a wholesale and retail house for all kinds of goods. There are also a number McClung Wholesale invoices. The McClung Warehouses are just a short drive from the store and are near the rail yard. Farm implements, barbed wire, and other items were stocked from this business.
In 1932, the Knox Dry Goods Store replaced M. M. Newcomers. Through the years it provided all kinds of goods and services including a beauty shop on the second floor. Knox Dry Goods modernized its name in 1954 becoming known as The Knox. It was a mainstay in the downtown area until 1977 when The Boston Store moved into the building.
In the late 1970s, many retailers had left downtown for the suburbs. The store was vacant until the White Grocery Store moved in in 1982 and operated until 1988. After that, the building was used for storage including sewing machines and all other items.
The Mast Store opened in August 2006.