The Heritage Funding Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced a grant intended to protect one of the last remaining U.S. Weather Bureau kiosks in the nation. The kiosk, at the corner of Clinch and Market streets in downtown Knoxville, is stationed just outside the East Tennessee History Center.
Built in 1912, the kiosk stands next to what was Knoxville’s first federal building: the old post office and Custom House.
Before the advent of radio, the U.S. Weather Bureau, the precursor of the National Weather Service, erected kiosks in larger cities to disseminate weather data and forecasts, as well as other significant news, such as World War I battles and casualties. Some 100 such kiosks were set up around the country.
One side of each kiosk featured weather instruments behind a glass window to display temperature, relative humidity and rainfall information. The other three sides served as bulletin boards on which weather forecasts, climatic charts, weather maps and other items would be displayed.
Knoxville’s kiosk became a gathering place for locals to discuss weather, local and national events, and to pass the time of day.
By the early ’30s, radio and other new inventions made the kiosks obsolete. The Knoxville kiosk was relocated to the old Greenwood Cemetery where it was put to use to post upcoming funeral notices.
In 2007, efforts were made to bring it back to its original home in time for the grand opening of an expansion of the East Tennessee History Center. It is now the only remaining kiosk in its original location.
The grant money will be used to enhance the restored kiosk and help with building a website about the kiosk’s history and the history of weather forecasting in East Tennessee.