1940 – The 808: Event Space Under Construction on State Street

808 State Street, Knoxville, July 2020

A somewhat nondescript building at 808 State Street is set to get a dramatic makeover, thanks to owners State properties and Sanders Pace Architecture. Work has already begun to transform the 1940 terracotta block building into a fully functioning event space. The one story structure, which until recently had a faux stone veneer on the facade, which was not original, will have a 1,420 square foot addition on the north or Cumberland Avenue side, with a basement level beneath it.

A landscaped courtyard will also be added on that side, as well as “a patio and loading area to the rear of the addition.”* The main entry will be at the front of the building and the veneer has already been removed to show the original 1940 facade. Just inside the front door will be the bar area.

808 State Street, Knoxville, July 2020

808 State Street, Knoxville, July 2020

The terracotta block will have the paint removed to “expose its natural and intended color” New doors and windows will be added to the front and a garage door will be added to allow loading and unloading for events. The new canopy on the front will be designed to resemble the original canopy on the building.

The addition will be made of architectural metal panels with wood accents. A retaining wall of varying height will surround the courtyard and landscaping, including trees, will be added to the corner of Cumberland and State.

Sanders Pace Rendering of 1940 – The 808

Interior of 808 State Street, Knoxville, May 2020 (Photo: Sanders Pace)

The area has gotten a bit of attention in recent years, from Escape Game Knoxville on Central (just behind this State Street Location), to the Theatre Knoxville Downtown location, also on Central and near this new business. Located just a block off Gay Street, it’s a fine example of an area that might be able to sustain development as we expand our idea of what constitutes downtown Knoxville beyond Market Square, Gay Street and the Old City.

Sanders Pace Rendering of the Rear of 1940 – The 808

Sanders Pace Rendering with Materials, 1940 – The 808

The business will join a number of other event centers which have been added in recent years around downtown. Prior to the current pandemic, it appeared the number of venues could not outpace the need for spaces for weddings, rehearsal dinners, receptions and other events. Here’s hoping the event centers are once more humming in the near future and that 1940- The 808 joins them as another successful entrant into the industry.

*All quotes from the Downtown Design Review Board application and summary.


  1. Event centers and schools that get converted into old folks homes.

    Keep Knoxville…..

  2. Hold up… Wasn’t this the building that the ax throwing place was going into? It looks oddly familiar (interior) from the remodel the ax folks were doing with that building… and for whatever reason, stopped.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      No, they went in off 5th ave. and opened there. I do think maybe that building also had the fake rocks on the front, but my mind may be playing tricks.

      • It was definitely this building. Their Instagram page mentioned the new John Coleman building next to it. I personally wish they would have just knocked this down and built another multi-story building, but at least they decided to get rid of the God awful roof and faux stones. The original facade looks much better.

  3. What an improvement! That building was so ugly with the stone veneer and ridiculous “mushroom cap” roof.

  4. We are pretty excited about this, being near neighbors for close to a decade now. The old building was atrocious looking, only slightly improved when they tore off the addition on the south side a couple of years ago. The addition of the new Marriott and cleanup of the Tombras occupied building have helped bring some new looks to this quadrant of downtown and this development will add to that.

    Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

  5. It will be great to see this plan come to fruition. Community Television of Knoxville (CTV) really brought a lot of increased positive attention to the space during the years they were there until they eventually moved to a more suitable space in the First Horizon Building. It will be nice to see even greater appreciation and wider attention as this plan moves forward.

  6. Whoever owns it is going to want to watch their parking lot on UT game days. There’s an old guy who sells the spaces in all of those lots (whether he’s allowed to or not) for $10-$20 bucks a spot on the plot of land on State, Cumberland and Central. One of the lots on Central is state owned and the police were called on him last year a couple of times.

  7. Oslo Cole says

    Do we know what the venue capacity will be? And to be clear, will this also be a music venue or a private events space?

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