Mark B. Whitaker Water Treatment Plant

Region: Downtown
2000 Riverside Drive
Knoxville, TN 37915

Details

About

Built in 1927, this proud facility marked a major improvement in Knoxville's water quality. Unusual for a public utility, the castle-like building is notable for its Gothic architecture and serves as a landmark to boaters on the Tennessee River. The Plant was designed by Chicago architect Victor Matteson (1872-1951), most of whose work is in the Midwest. Even in an era when inexpensive modernist designs were becoming more popular, Matteson advocated the Gothic design, giving water plants the same noble grace as collegiate buildings. The building's construction, which called for mahogany on the interior, drew bitter complaints from fiscally conservative city councilmen. The plant was about 40 years old when it was named for the longtime water boss Mark B. Whitaker (1901-1989), a small-town middle Tennessean who served as a Navy seaman before he came to Knoxville to attend UT and later work for the city as chief water engineer, from 1928 to 1953 -- when he became general manager of the Knoxville Utilities Board, a post he held until his retirement in 1971.