Beck Cultural Exchange Center Knoxville, Tennessee
Beck Cultural Exchange CenterKnoxville, Tennessee

History of the House

The current parcel of land that houses the Beck was originally owned by Joseph A. Mabry. The property was purchased by the Saxton family for their daughter, Alice, who married James Cowan. The Cowan’s built the mansion in 1912. 


Dr. E. F. Lennon, a black physician, purchased the home from the Cowan estate in 1947. The Lennon’s were among the first black families to move into the area.  Their home became the center of cross burnings and warnings by the Ku Klux Klan.  Undeterred, the Lennon’s remained in the home until 1968.


James and Ethel Beck purchased the home in 1968 and were the third and final family to live in the house. Following the death of James (1969) and Ethel (1970), the property at 1927 Dandridge became the field office of the Morning Side Urban Renewal Project. 


January 21, 1975 the Beck Cultural Exchange Center became chartered and incorporated. Ms. Bessie Brice, treasurer of the Ethel Beck Home (formerly known as the Knoxville Colored Orphanage), along with the assistance of Ms. Thelma Tate, community activist, pledged $22,000 from the sale of the Ethel Beck Home to help the new organization acquire the property at 1927 Dandridge Avenue.  The balance of $2,500 was pledged by the City of Knoxville under the leadership of the Honorable Mayor Kyle Testerman.  May 15, 1975, the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, named for the generous contribution made by the Ethel Beck Home Estate, purchased the Cowan-Lennon-Beck house for $22,500.  


Today, the original Beck Mansion has been expanded to include a library, a gallery, an exhibit hall and an archive studio.   


Please make plans to come and visit soon.


Please consider donating to Beck today. We cannot do this important work without you. Thank you.

Where to find us

Beck Cultural Exchange Center
1927 Dandridge Ave.
Knoxville, TN 37915



Or use our Contact Form.

Museum Hours



November 28 & 29, 2019 


December 24,2019 Thru

January 2, 2020

Our museum is open during the following hours:

Tuesday - Saturday

10:00AM - 6:00PM


In the event of inclement weather we operate on the Knox County School Schedule.  Please See
Admission: FREE
Parking: FREE


You are welcome to take a Self-Guided Tour anytime during our Business Hours

Please Feel Free To Contact Us for Additional Information

Beck Exhibits

We have Permanent Exhibits and Feature ExhibitsPrepare to be intrigued

Calendar of Events

Museum Rental


Beck appreciates the ongoing support of ...

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