Unlike most towns and cities, which grew gradually over a period of years with many stages of development. Harriman grew from an agricultural community of two farms in 1890 to a city of nearly 4000 residents in 1892. Chartered in May 1890, Harriman was built on a grid in the bend of the beautiful tree lined Emory River. A ridge extends longitudinally across town, rising to a height of about 100 feet above the riverbanks and sweeping gracefully down on either side.
Frederick Gates, who envisioned a town where “the belief in temperance could be commercialized for business profit and betterment of mankind,” chose to build his elegant home at the eastern end and highest point of this ridge. Known in later years as the Goodman House and the present site of Harriman Middle School, the home’s name, “Cornstalk Heights” applies to the entire National Register of Historic Residential area.
By 1892, Harriman could boast a population of almost 4000! People came by horse & wagon, train, riverboat, and foot to reach the town’s “Great Land Sale” in February, 1890. In spite of financial setbacks, panics, floods, The Depression and, more recently, the rush of modern life, their homes and dreams have survived.
American Temperance University & Heritage Museum
302 N. Roane St. Circa 1891
The American Temperance University building now serves as the Harriman City Hall & Heritage Museum. The city’s developing agent was the East Tennessee Land Company, led by Frederick Gates and the Prohibition Party candidate for President, General B. Fisk. They erected a handsome brick and stone building with four Norman towers and it was said to be the “finest private office building in the state.” After the collapse of the East Tennessee Land Company, it was renamed Greenlee Hall, and was used as the administrative building of the American Temperance University. Presently it houses several city offices and the Harriman Museum.
The Carnegie Library - Greek Revival
601 Walden St. Circa 1909
The Carnegie Library is a result of the efforts of Mrs. Robert F. Armstrong President of the Library Board, Major Claude E. Hendrick, and the Harriman City Council who were able to obtain a $10,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation in 1909. The Greek Revival Building’s interior has gilt embossed columns, oak archways, and decorative woodwork. A picture of Andrew Carnegie hangs over the fireplace and the words “Carnegie Building” in the titled entry acknowledge the authenticity if the building. It is one of the few remaining “Carnegie Buildings left in the U.S.