The Emporium Building was built in 1898 as the new home of Sterchi Brothers Furniture, prior to their move to the Sterchi Building in the 1920s.
In 2001 the City of Knoxville decided to make the renovation of the Emporium Building one of the pillars of its city-wide renovation project, and in 2004 it was reopened under the management of the Arts & Culture Alliance as Knoxville’s first true art center.
Currently the Emporium Building houses lofts in the upper floors, but its real attraction are the two art galleries that showcase local artists. The building also houses the administrative offices of the Arts & Culture Alliance, the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, and eight other cultural organizations, as well as studios and rehearsal, classroom, and meeting spaces.
As the north corner of the Gay Street 100 block, the Emporium Building also retains access to what remains of Underground Gay Street. The center holds somewhere in the area of 25 exhibitions a year, showcasing art both magnificent and mystical. It also serves as a showcase for Knoxville’s monthly “First Friday” event.