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

James Garfield & Ethel Benson Beck

James and Ethel Beck were two of the most glamorous and influential members of the black community in Knoxville during the period of the 1920s-1960s and were the last people to live in the Beck mansion.  James died in 1969 and Ethel died in 1970.  He was a 1906 graduate of Knoxville College Academy where he starred in baseball and football. He taught English at Austin High School after graduation and became the first black postal clerk in the state of Tennessee in 1913. Ethel took courses in the Morristown College Academy and she had a mind for finances and business.  She invested their money wisely and they had a fortune in real estate by the time they died.  


James and Ethel Beck Purchased the mansion 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 (rormerly 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 mansion for $22,500.  


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 ...

Print Print | Sitemap Recommend this page Recommend this page
© Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Inc.